With more and more people taking to the web to not only research developers, estates and builders, but to vent their frustrations when their experience with them does not meet expectations, it’s important that all property businesses learn how to handle and prevent negative reviews. After all, it can be what stands between you and a potential sale.

Luckily, there are five simple steps you can follow to minimise any damage made to your company’s reputation when a negative review appears:

1. Don’t panic

A negative review will make most of us angry, but before you take to the keyboard to retaliate with a piece of your mind, take a minute to reflect. A bad review isn’t the end of the world, even if it feels that way right now. It might even provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate your problem solving and customer experience skills. So, take a deep breath, maybe get some fresh air, and move on to the next step.

2. Evaluate the situation

Whatever you do, do not delete a negative review; it may look like you’re ignoring the problem, or worse, you don’t care about the customer and the issue they’re facing. Instead, try finding out as much information about this customer as you can. Go through your correspondence with them, review the plan and agreement, talk with the sales representative(s) who managed their experience, listen to customer service calls. The more you can find out about this customer and their situation, the better equipped you are to control the outcome. It might even turn out the review is untrue and not written by a customer after all. But remember – never delete a review!

3. Respond to the review

Whether the review is real or not, it’s important that you respond to it truthfully and ideally within 24 hours. If the customer is dissatisfied with your service, address their complaint, admit to any mistake made, don’t make excuses, and apologise. Finally, do everything you can to correct the issue.

If the review is untrue, you still have to respond to it! In these instances, it’s better to take the conversation offline to avoid any further damage being made. Respond by following the same structure as above but tell them you’re unable to find them in your system and ask them to call or email you to resolve the issue. Only after you’ve done this you may flag the review for Google or Facebook to remove it, but remember, they might not – that’s why you always have to respond.

When future customers look at your response, you want to show them you’re committed to delivering a great customer experience and assure them that the same issue won’t happen again. People don’t expect you or your company to be perfect – just transparent and honest.

If a customer is unhappy with your service and you came back to them and fixed it, they might change their negative review to a positive one. Most people leaving a bad review just want to be heard, have their problem solved, and for you to be nice about it.

4. Invest in the customer experience

Even the most customer-focused property businesses can receive negative reviews. So, while eliminating the possibility of bad reviews completely may be close to impossible, there are ways you can minimise the number and scale of bad reviews you receive. The best way is by prioritising the customer experience at every level of your business, to ensure the customer becomes the number one priority for everyone, and within every strategy. Invest in customer experience workshops, organise training days, and always deliver on your promises!

5. Learn from your experience

There’s no point in successfully responding to a negative review if you haven’t learned anything from it – or resolved the actual issue. If there’s a pattern appearing in your reviews and customers seem to be complaining about a similar issue, it’s time to solve that problem internally. You need to determine: Who’s responsible for that part of the customer journey? What needs to be changed? What needs to be improved? How can these positive changes be maintained? Only by solving these internal issues can you solve your bad review issue.

At Property Republic, we’re experts at customer experience. If you need help developing an effective customer experience strategy, get in touch!