Handling Negative Reviews: The Do’s and Don’ts


As a real estate professional, negative reviews on Yelp, realtor.com®, or social media can be harmful to your business. 88 percent of consumers claim to trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and therefore it can be frustrating and upsetting when a negative review surfaces. However, there’s no need to panic. Here are some do’s and don’ts for handling a bad review.

What to DO

  • Respond. Whether the review is good or bad, always respond positively. Most customers won’t write you off based on one negative comment. Many, however, will gain respect for your business if you respond in a pleasant and helpful way.
  • Figure out if the facts stated in the review are true or false. If true, apologize to the client for having a bad experience and try to rectify the situation however you can. If the facts aren’t correct, take the conversation offline. Try contacting the client and talking through their feedback first. If for any reason, they cannot be reached, reply to their comment and ask to speak with them offline.
  • Draw attention to your business’ positive qualities, by turning the comments around to highlight your strengths rather than your weaknesses or mistakes. Here’s an example used in Forbes on how to start a response: “We’ve been in business 25 years and always strive to create the best possible home buying experience for our clients...”
  • Mention what you’re doing to improve the business. Perhaps you’re low on resources, response times are longer than normal, etc. Mention what you’re doing to improve these problems so they avoid impacting your clients in the future. Another example of a response is, “We’ve been low on staffing resources the past few weeks and apologize if this has impacted our work performance. However, we’re working on getting a full staff on board the first of the year...”
  • Don’t be afraid to ask to remove the comment or review. If you’ve never had this person as a client, the review is borderline slanderous, and you’re not able to contact the person directly, feel free to ask the site hosting the reviews to remove it. You typically need to provide proof as to why to remove it before the hosting site takes action.

What NOT to do

  • Ignore reviews. These are your best source of feedback and input for improving your business. And aside from analytics, reviews are a good narrative for how your business is doing and how your staff is performing. Stay abreast for mentions on social media, comments on your blog, and reviews on realtor.com® and yelp.
  • Create a fake persona or account to support your position in blogs, forums and message boards. Clients know when a review has been fabricated or is unauthentic. You will likely get caught and it will make you look worse than the review did.
  • Be defensive or rude, even if the client is incorrect. Take a moment to gather the facts. Speak to employees if they were involved in the client’s matters. Respond courteously and attentively. Remember that when potential clients are going through reviews, they will see how you handled a negative review.
  • Get involved in a back and forth confrontation online. Tread lightly on responding to a disgruntled client. You never want to get into a battle with him/her in a public forum. It won’t look good on you or your business.

Be Proactive and Win at Reviews

Jon Taffer of Spike TVs Bar Rescue said it best, “The game of social evaluations is not a fair one. You have to protect yourself and stay ahead of it.” Promoting positive reviews is key. If your clients had a great home buying or selling experience, ask them to write a review about your business. In connecting with clients and building relationships, people will support you and your business and give you good ratings and reviews. Taffer also mentions that if you’re preemptive, you’re less likely to feel vulnerable when a bad review surfaces. You will have a great amount of positive reviews to outweigh the bad.

REALTORS® now have an opportunity to get reviews and ratings all in one. Clients who have closed transactions can review REALTORS®. Friends and colleagues can recommend REALTORS®. Watch this video and learn more about realtor.com


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