Reputation Management for Tradies - Dealing with Ranting Customers Online

Worker with Construction Helmet


It’s a lovely afternoon. Everything is going as scheduled. You are expecting to wrap up early today and enjoy some family time. Two of your customers have even paid today! Can it get any better?

All of sudden you get a new review alert on your phone and it’s not something you wanted to see. An unhappy customer left a negative review!

Ugggh. Why!!

Because you billed the customer for an hour’s work, when you were on site for 20 mins. Come on! Who is going to pay for an hour long drive? What happened to the minimum charge for call out? Will they ever understand?

Holding your brand up and keeping hard built reputation intact is not always easy.

While sometimes it can be a minor lack of understanding at your end, but mostly it’s just some disgruntled customer who never bothered to talk to you about the matter and was quick to take their rant over the internet, without thinking about its consequences for you as a business.

Referring your business to a friend or leaving a positive review online, has now a days become more of a trade in exchange of some expected freebie, rather than a genuine way to say thank you for your great work.

But negative reviews and bad mouthing is something all businesses have to face at some point in their growth trajectory. So chin up and get ready to tackle this.

1. Address negative reviews with facts

Rude and unruly customers can be hard to deal with, but don’t let any negative review go unanswered.

This only helps strengthen the case of the person who left the review. It feels bad and you feel angry or hurt, but don’t respond with emotion.

Rather, be assertive in your response and mention facts that fall in your favour to politely explain what circumstances led to the situation or simply why a claim a customer is making is just false. Invite them to contact you privately so the issue could be addressed one-on-one. Remember, the answer does not necessarily lie in dragging someone to the court.

Responding the right way showcases your business in a positive light, highlighting the fact that you are not only listening to complaints but also working on resolving them.

2. Eliminate the root cause of bad reviews

A good business does not accept any work that comes their way. When customers have the luxury to pick Tradies of their choice, you as a Trades business owner too need to define your segment and not accept jobs that do not fit with your set criteria.

There are ways to screen customers. From in-built forms on your website to ask all project details, budget and time-frames to your very own customer rating system from past jobs. The more systems you have in place to deliver better service, the less likely you are to find yourself in this uncomfortable situation.

3. Provide employees with tangible benefits for every review they collect

While a positive review boosts the morale of your employee who serviced the client, it is definitely also working in the favour of your business. So why not reward employees for every positive review they collect. The more, the merrier.

Sometimes getting or not getting a review is merely a matter of asking. Make sure you are doing it more in person while you are still on site and less through email. You just finished the job, the customer is happy with the work and this is the best time to ask!

Giving employees a monetary incentive to collect more reviews is always better than enticing customer with an incentive for the same. The reviews that come out as a result are more genuine and your employees will be motivated to deliver better service in order to get a good review.

4. Work on building a relationship

Tradie Coach, Brendan Veale explains his 10 and 10 rule.

Spending some time with the customer before and after the job can go a long way. Even a 10 minutes exchange of good conversation before you pick up your tools and get busy, can help make a connection on an emotional level.

Show them you care. Smile a lot. Be enthusiastic about the work. Respect their home. Accept anything they offer you to eat or drink. Don’t shut them out.

Once you are done, spend another 10 minutes to answer any questions they have or may be just ask them directly if they are happy with the job.

It can be awkward to ask for a review from someone who is not comfortable with you yet.

Make your customers feel good and they are your customers for life.

5. Be accessible through various channels

It’s not possible that a customer’s email landed in your junk folder, you missed a call from them, no one was at office when they walked in and your website’s live support team was not available to chat, all at the same time!

Providing customers with multiple ways to contact you in case of a query or a compliant goes on to show that you are there to listen and resolve. With customers, just having your Facebook page to vent out their frustrations, it’s no wonder that a negative review has landed on top of all the good ones.

Always conclude conversations with customers by telling them exactly who and where they can reach out if they need more help.

6. Make it easy for customers to leave a review

As a Tradie you would want to target your local market. Besides your Facebook page, Yelp, Google Places and Yahoo are some awesome places to get your local business listed which not only improves your SEO ranking but also provides a platform for your customers to leave a review.

Additionally, if you are using a job management app that allows two-way communication with your customers, you can prompt them to rate the service, Uber-style, right there and then on the app as soon as the job is done.

Wrapping it up:

A negative review is not something to get upset about, especially when you have a lot of positive ones to bury it down. To be honest, a couple of bad reviews makes your good ones sound more genuine.

Nonetheless, it cannot be ignored either.

With customers reading up to 10 reviews before hiring a business, just a handful of good reviews are not enough. Rather, you should work on a strategy so 100% of your customers end up recommending your business.

This also helps keep your reviews fresh and relevant, as year-old reviews do not truly represent your current service quality.

About i4Tradies

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Wardah Wadood

Wardah Wadood

Content Manager and Community Strategist at i4Tradies | Social Media Evangelist | Writer | Editor