What To Do When a Customer Dumps You

Being Dumped Stinks…

I remember when a high school girlfriend suddenly dumped me in 10th grade. We had only been dating for a few weeks (an eternity in most fleeting high school relationships) and I, being a hopeless romantic, thought I had found my high school sweetheart. At the end of it all, it wasn't her; it was me. In her words, I was "too nice," which completely boggled my mind. Right after being dumped, I clammed up - turning away from her without muttering a single word in response. For months I avoided her, despite the fact that we ran in the same social circle because I was too hurt, embarrassed, heart-broken (again high school) and, honestly, I didn't know what to say. My friends and her friends, on the other hand, speculated on the break up at length without me having any say in the matter.

Thinking back, that was my first true negative review. Being too nice translated into being too demonstrative, too affectionate, too dedicated because, after all, it was high school. She may not have used the right words, but my ex-girlfriend was providing me with feedback that I needed to hear - even if it hurt me to the core. The worst part of all was that I didn't address it head on, instead letting others come to conclusions about me. (You know how caddy high schoolers are.)


Receiving a negative review from a customer is much like being dumped. As small business owners, we put our "all" into everything we do - just like me with my 10th grade "relationship." We want to make sure our customers or clients are satisfied with their experience. After all, they're the reason we do what we do day in and day out. So, when a customer breaks up with our business and leaves a negative review, it is a natural, visceral instinct that we take it personally.

Don’t Clam Up

It is also a gut instinct that we clam up and pretend it didn't happen. Sweep it under the rug and forget about it. Focus on our other clients and ignore the break up. Next please! Am I right? But that review gnaws at us. In the back of our minds, the voice of self-doubt grows louder. Not to mention, if we ignore it, consumers start to come to their own conclusions about how we run our businesses - speculation clouds their decision to buy from us. Are you seeing the connection?

Why You need To Respond to Negative Reviews

In a recent hospitality industry study, it was found that:

  • Responding to a negative review (versus no response) enhanced inferences of trust and concern amongst consumers

  • Using a human voice style in your review response is favorably received

  • A timely response also yielded favorable customer inferences on how you run your business

In essence, even if it hurts you to be dumped by a customer, even if you'd rather ignore the negative feedback and focus on the future, you need to nip those negative reviews in the bud. Follow these tips on how to respond to reviews online to get a better idea of how you can get in front of it.

If you need help proactively collecting reviews from happy customers, consider a tool like MyReviewDashboard. And, as always, contact us if you have questions about your online reputation.

Bryan Caplan