How One Writer Turned a Bad Review into Prospecting Gold

Carol Tice

photodune-4727189-negative-feedback-xsI groaned when I read the email subject line, saying a former client had written a bad review of my business on a very popular online site.

This client had been a problem for several weeks, and finally requested a refund. Despite my no-refunds policy, I agreed.

Because of a postal delay, that refund check didn’t arrive by the designated deadline. The client then sent an obnoxious email and posted negative reviews to Yelp and — sites where my profiles generate a combined 85 percent of my new client calls. Negative reviews on these important prospecting tools could tank my business.

Plus, the Better Business Bureau contacted me for a written response to his complaint there.

No question — it was a client disaster in the making.

I know clients need to trust professional resume writers like myself, so this was a “do or die” situation.

How can you make a bad review work for you, and not against you? Here’s what I did:


Calm Your Emotions

My first reaction was frustration and slight panic.

Then I remembered what a former boss once told me: “How you react to a negative situation reflects on how you handle your business.”

Another mentor told me to stick to the facts and not add any emotional responses to resolve complaints.

I analyzed the bad review to determine how to best respond professionally. Once I focused on the issues and trusted my instincts, the responses flowed smoothly. Plus, by focusing on the facts, you show professionalism and a calm demeanor while respecting the client. That impresses prospects that you won’t trash them online, either.

Stick to the Facts

This client claimed I missed multiple deadlines, including his refund, and attacked my integrity, work ethic, and work hours. And he claimed I was dishonest because I’d required full payment up front.

Here’s how I addressed each issue, showing ownership for what I could control:

  • The U.S. Postal Service perhaps delayed delivery of the refund, which I can’t control. Once aware, I cut a new check and sent it certified mail. He received it in 48 hours.
  • To speak to my character, I mentioned a public service I provide the unemployed, and that I rearrange my schedule to meet writing deadlines.
  • I mentioned that payment up front is the norm for professional resume writers.

Reach Out to Happy Clients

Wanting positive reviews to round out my page, I contacted past clients and sent my Thumbtack link. These bolstered my ranking and helped offset the impression given by the single negative review.

Thumbtack’s support team and the BBB raved at my professional responses, and the positive comments I solicited .

By staying positive, I’ve been able to find new clients and earn $1,100-$1,500/week, avoiding the typical seasonal famine that afflicts resume writers. And my new clients are excited to work with a professional.

Have you gotten a bad online review? Tell us how you responded in the comments below.

Linda A. Hamilton is a California-based resume and freelance writer. She blends storytelling with crisp content that connects with readers, for career advancement or meeting business objectives.


  1. Stacey

    I’m so sad to hear this happened to Linda. I am glad though that she managed to turn it around and make it positive.

    Often when I look at reviews I do seek out the negative reviews on a product or service to see what the professional has to say. Often my deciding weather I want to go ahead and purchase that product or service is dependent on how the professional handled the bad review. If they responded professionally, responding to every concern then I am more likely to trust them. If they resonded unprofessionally I won’t give them my buisiness.

    You did exactly the right thing and now it’s paying of (literally!) good on you!

    • Linda H

      Thank you Stacey. I’ve had several clients tell me they did the same thing as you described when determining whether to call me for services or not.

      As a former manager told me, which I mentioned in my reply, how you reply to a negative situation reflects on you and helps determine when you should be promoted or discharged. Having been in many difficult situations in Corporate America I learned the value of waiting to reply to a negative situation to gather my wits and maintain clear logic.

      The long-term payoff is often the result of better judgment without the emotional tirade.


  1. Carnival of Creativity 4/12/15 - […] Tice presents How One Writer Turned a Bad Review into Prospecting Gold posted at Make a Living […]

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