We can’t say it enough: a great online reputation is essential to the success of your childcare center.

The majority of today’s consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust sentiments from friends and family, and a bad review usually comes from a difficult consumer who could’ve (and should’ve) had their issue resolved earlier.

We often talk with our clients about how to deal with difficult parents and respond to negative feedback. Negative feedback begins in subtle ways, usually with a parent mentioning a concern to a teacher, director, or front desk employee. If not addressed appropriately, negative feedback will fester and grow to include angry emails, nasty phone calls, upsetting comments on social media, and, ultimately, negative online reviews.

In a worst-case scenario, a parent might reach out to a news station, leaving you with a PR nightmare. Now, the parents’ feedback is no longer directed to you — it’s also available to the public.

In this post, we’ll look at how to deal with difficult parents, how to prevent negative reviews, and how to address bad reviews when they happen. 

The Dangers of Not Having a Plan or Process

Without a plan or process in place to handle bad reviews, their negative impact can become long-lasting. Bad reviews deter prospects not just from enrolling, but also from scheduling a tour or contacting you about enrollment in the first place.

Negative reviews spread quickly and create a subtle but real negative public opinion about your school. Not to mention, if you have too many poor reviews, your school may not even appear in online searches to begin with, as reviews greatly affect how prospects sort data. Google, for example, allows users to filter searches based on a business’s ratings, and the most typical filter is four out of five stars and up.

Not many prospective parents want to see a childcare center with a three or even three-and-a-half star rating.

Negative reviews are difficult to get taken down, and it takes quite a few positive reviews to make up for a single negative one. It’s in your best interest to have a plan for dealing with difficult parents before they take to the internet to vent their frustration.

How to Deal With Difficult Parents

When dealing with a difficult parent who has already left a negative review, following a predetermined plan is essential. Step one of that plan should be to evaluate the review for a few signs.

If it’s full of grammatical mistakes, run-on sentences, and spelling errors, it may have been written in a state of heightened emotion. If this is the case, it’s best to wait 24 hours before responding to allow the person to calm down. Otherwise, your response may simply exacerbate their anger.

You’ll also want to check the guidelines of the platform on which the review appears. Things like crude language and hate speech are often not allowed, and if the review includes them, you can flag it with the platform and have it taken down.

If the review follows the platform’s guidelines and you find you need to respond to it, the absolute best course of action is to try to take the conversation offline. Ask politely if the parent is willing to have a conversation over the phone. 

If they will, make sure they feel heard. Apologize for the experience, calmly explain how you will handle (or have handled) the situation, and end on a positive note by reinforcing your values. Finally, politely ask if they’d be willing to remove the review.

If they’re unwilling to remove the review, you’ll need to respond online so other users can see your best practices in action.

Of course, the best way to manage bad reviews is to prevent them in the first place.

Infographic: 10 Signs You’re Ready to Outsource Your Child Care Marketing

How to Prevent Bad Reviews From Difficult Parents

The number one way to prevent bad reviews is to run a great school! As long as you’re running a clean, curriculum-based organization committed to the safety and well-being of children, you can’t go wrong.

Additionally, always foster an open dialogue between parents and staff. Whenever an issue comes up, address it head on, and let everyone know it’s been handled appropriately. An environment of open communication makes everyone feel heard and enables everyone to speak up.

It’s your job to proactively ask for feedback rather than wait for someone to approach you. Surveys are a great way to catch negative feedback before it goes public, so periodically ask parents about their experiences and opinions. And when speaking with anyone in person or over the phone, make sure they feel heard and understood.

When Dealing With Difficult Parents Is Too Much

Learning how to deal with difficult parents and the reviews they leave can be overwhelming. Worrying about the implications of a bad reputation can be stressful, and wrangling negative reviews may be just another task on your already lengthy to-do list.

If you feel like you’re in over your head, Rose Marketing Solutions can help. If you want an experienced team of experts to take on the work of managing your reputation, we’d love to help! You can reach us anytime.



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