You’ve completed a project for a customer and you know you did the best you could. It might have been too challenging or simply did not go well due to a lack of information provided by the client. You know this home improvement project wasn’t the best it could have been. But, what could you have done to prevent this from happening? And, what should you do now that it has? Protecting your brand image is critical. Taking pre-emptive action can help you to avoid that negative online review and poor word of mouth advertising this client is likely to give you.

How to Avoid a Bad Outcome

There are a few key things you can do to avoid having this problem. Of course, you know you need to fulfill every component of the contract. You know you have to have it all in writing. However, you also need to ask for satisfaction along the way. This is perhaps the most important step to take. By interacting with the customer throughout the project, you can sidestep any potential problems.

What to Do Now

Now that the customer isn’t happy, though, what can you do? Consider these tips for handling any of these potentially negative reviews in the right manner so you don’t suffer long-term from the negative feedback.

  1. Ask the customer what you can do to make it better. It’s that simple. Before you walk away, realize the importance of fixing the problem with the customer. This is the best step you can take to avoid a negative review.
  2. If a review is already posted, contact the customer again. Discuss what you can do to make it right. You’ll have to use judgment about what the best outcome is for your business, but extending an olive branch works.
  3. Leave a comment, too. On the website of the review, leave a note about the steps you took to handle the problem for the customer. This is something future customers will appreciate.
  4. Suggest a solution to the customer. To avoid that bad review, instead of asking the customer what you can do, offer a solution. This has to be something you feel will benefit the both of you.
  5. Don’t tell the customer not to leave a review or threaten one that does. This is bad business and it will come back to hurt you later.

By taking these steps, and hiring the right reputation management team, you’ll be able to handle any negative review you may get, and potentially avoid them altogether. Work towards a solution as soon as you notice the problem. In the long-term, this is critically important to your company’s future.

Mark van Berkel is Founder and President of Hunch Manifest Inc. While managing business operations he also leads the team in designing semantic technology to provide personalized online presence and reputation management services. Prior to forming the company, he was consultant in enterprise software projects to companies including Panasonic, Shell, and General Electric and was an Architect for a world leading human capital management software-as-a-service. Mark holds a Bachelor of Information Systems from StFX University and did his graduate studies at University of Toronto, getting a MEng Industrial Information Engineering and an MBA, Strategy and Innovation from the Rotman School of Management. In 2006 he published a 170 page report as a researcher at the Semantic Technologies Lab at the University of Toronto and built a semantic technology prototype for SAP Research Labs. Connect with Mark on LinkedIn or Twitter. Mark is also certified in Google Analytics.