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Tips for responding to negative reviews about your recruitment agency

The concept of ‘word of mouth’ reviews has changed dramatically now that the internet is an integral part of our lives. Years ago, disgruntled clients and candidates would express their dissatisfaction by telling their friends and colleagues. Now, they tell the world via a frustrated tweet, withering LinkedIn comment or damning Google review. The speed at which these comments can be shared means that your business can suffer widespread reputational damage, which is why it is important to manage them with care.

Just Google 'viral negative reviews' and you'll be amazed by how many results you get.

So, if an unhappy client or candidate has left your agency less-than-glowing feedback, what can you do?

  1. Don’t try to take the review down

    Tempting as it is, if people notice that their negative comments are disappearing you can be sure that they’ll want to draw even more attention to them. Instead, focus on addressing the complaint.

  2. Respond to all feedback – positive and negative

    We’ve all seen those strings of reviews where the business owners have found the time to reply warmly to complimentary posts but have acted as if the negative ones don’t exist. This sends a clear message that a company isn’t interested in dealing with unhappy individuals or resolving issues, which is a swift way to lose potential business. Showing that you understand the disappointment, frustration or inconvenience experienced is important.

  3. React promptly

    If you aren’t regularly checking your online mentions then you could easily miss the chance to respond swiftly to a bad review. Replying weeks later indicates that customer care isn’t a priority. However, take care not to reply rashly in the heat of the moment.

  4. Treat the negative review as an opportunity to put things right and demonstrate your outstanding service

    By remaining polite, helpful and showing a desire to listen to feedback, you can address the damage that the negative review might have caused.

  5. Assemble all of the facts and be fully aware of the details of the complaint before replying

    Examine all records of correspondence with the individual concerned and speak to any staff mentioned in the complaint.

  6. Remember to say sorry

    It sounds obvious, but a quick look at some replies to negative online reviews shows that some businesses get too caught up in explaining and justifying – or defending - to remember to say sorry.

  7. Get a second opinion before posting your reply

    If a complaint is particularly complex, sensitive or potentially damaging then it may be sensible to check the wording and content of your response. If you have a PR team, then they will be able to provide expert advice.

  8. Even the very best agencies get the occasional negative reviews

    Seeing them as an opportunity to receive valuable feedback which can improve your business, as well as showing potential clients and candidates that you provide an outstanding level of service, is what will help you stand out from the crowd.

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Originally published June 2018, updated September 2022

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