What to Do if you Get a Negative Client Review



Negative Facebook reviews. Negative Google reviews. They’re going to happen. What are you going to do? This is a situation where Pain = Gain.

A negative fitness client review online can actually help your business more than harm it. Even if someone tells you to their face what they don’t like about you, it can be good. I promise. Here’s why.

One of my coaching clients recently told me she was feeling torn about triggering Facebook to allow customer reviews because friends of hers got negative reviews from people who didn’t even use the service and were simply passing judgment on what she does for a living. This is ludicrous and hopefully a rare situation.

The internet brings out the worst in people and the worst people sometimes. You can turn any negative client review situation around with these tips.

Take a deep breath. If you’re worried about negative reviews or just got one and are feeling bad, you’re not alone. You’re very normal in fact. Nobody wants to hear negative thoughts about their business. Tell yourself “it’s going to be ok”. If you find yourself on the receiving end of a negative client review label it – breathe.

Transform fear into a fortune. The way you respond is important. Use this opportunity to showcase your coaching and communication skills.

  • Respond with grace and an apology if you made a mistake
  • Seek to educate the person if appropriate
  • Ask a question to leave it open for their response
  • Reach out to the individual to follow up on the issue

Never argue or go “back and forth”. Reply only once online. Then, take the conversation offline. Offer the client a phone call or email contact to help resolve the issue more completely.

Ask a mentor for advice. If you are responding to an online review or anonymous customer comment and have time then talk to someone about it first. Aim to respond within a few days. Even if you find yourself in the moment of constructive criticism, you can ask to address it more thoroughly later and buy yourself some time.

Fitness mentors can be other colleagues you look up to, a supervisor, or someone you know who also runs a business. Talk with someone you respect and trust to get another opinion about the complaint and how to handle it.

Ask questions. If you are caught in the unfortunate situation of someone confronting you in person during or after a personal training session or fitness class take that deep breath again. Look the person in the eyes and listen.

Ask questions. “I’m sorry you feel this way, please tell me more.” or “Do you have suggestions for what I could do differently?”.

If the timing isn’t right you could gather information by asking a few questions and ask them for a phone call follow up later.

Make a change. If the person is providing constructive criticism that you (or your mentor) agree with then do what you need to in order to make it right. If you were consistently late for sessions, not paying attention, or said something you should never say to a client then oops. Lesson learned. We all make mistakes.

Let it go. Easier said than done, I know. Sometimes people are angry at something other than you and they take it out on you. It’s not fair, but it’s the truth. Other times criticism is an opportunity for growth and change. Address the review and then move on, you’ve got other satisfied customers who need you to move on.

Negative client reviews happen to the best of us. I have yet to meet a fitness instructor who hasn’t had a bad day because of less than desirable feedback.

Have you been on the receiving end of a bad review? Share your story.

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Beverly Hosford, MA teaches anatomy and body awareness using a skeleton named Andy, balloons, play-doh, ribbons, guided visualizations, and corrective exercises. She is an instructor, author, and a business coach for fitness professionals. Learn how to help your clients sleep better with in Bev's NFPT Sleep Coach Program and dive deeper into anatomy in her NFPT Fundamentals of Anatomy Course.