How To Handle Bad Online Reviews


Identify The Reason For The Bad Review

A Bad Review Is an Opportunity

Most bad reviews come from customers who are simply mad about bad customer service. Businesses screw up. It happens. Sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and take responsibility for a breakdown in the quality of service or product. Good customer service isn’t about eliminating mistakes it is about taking the opportunity created by a mistake to build a deeper relationship with your customer. Respond in a manner that will fix the issue and show others if you mess up you are willing to fix it.

Your Business Might Just Not Be a Good Fit for the Customer.

At some point you will come across a customer who just isn’t right for your business whether its a culture, quality, quantity or expectation thing. It is good to identify if this is the case because forming a response to the negative review that turns the review positive is one way to combat the negative review.

The Customer Might Just Be a Jerk (not as often as you think though).

Some people are, jerks. In such cases it can be extremely hard to not lash out or be defensive. As a businesses representative you need to not fall into their trap and go back and forth with such a person whom is a waste of your time. Simply respond by thanking them for their business and move on from the situation.

These are the customers who:

  • Make personal attacks on people not problems. This can include attacks on you, your employees,  or your other customers.
  • Use non-constructive feedback, including excessive use of profanity.
  • Have spiteful outbursts.

Create A Response

Once you have determined why the bad review was left then the next step is creating a response to the issue. Keep in mind that the problem isn’t the bad review or reviewer but rather the issue that caused them to leave a bad review. Don’t focus on the result; focus on the problem. Treat the upset customer just as you would an upset customer who standing in front of you: with a genuine commitment to making things right. Do not dismiss that fact that they left the review online as them being someone hiding behind a screen, even if this is the case in the end it is your business that will suffer if you talk down to them or ignore the issue.

There are times when creating a response I will write out everything I really want to say to a customer just so  can get it off my chest then I delete that response, I then will come up with a response that is more constructive, less defensive, and will help fix the situation.

Yes, You Should Respond Publicly. But Not To Defend Yourself.

Yes, you should respond publicly. Post your response where the bad review happened so others can see the bad review and your response to it. That response should be an apology for how they feel, and a request for an opportunity to make things right. This is when you can turn a mad customer into a happy one and convert people on the fence that your company is the one to use because if they are unhappy you will make it right. Do not make a promise or response you have no willingness to keep.

There is a rare occasion that the best move might to be do nothing at all. This usually applies to when someone is being a jerk. This is where if you have nothing nice to say or have nothing constructive to add to a review or way to fix the situation it would be best served that you make no response at all. It would be better to form a constructive response but there are times when it is just better to realize that a situation might be better served to just not respond. If there are vulgarities or outright attacks against you or an employee then you can contact the review site about having the review removed.


Follow Through

Once you respond make sure you follow through with any promises you made in the response. Nothing would be worse than taking the time to make a customer happy only to have them come back again after the situation seems to be resolved and say you didn’t keep up your side of fixing the issue. Do not expect a customer to rescind a bad review once you fix the problem. The majority of the reason to fix the issue is for others to see how you handle things not necessarily the offended or unhappy customer.


Instead Of Trying To Get Bad Reviews Removed, Focus On Getting More Reviews

One thing that any business – especially one that gets customers from review-driven marketplaces like App Stores, Amazon or Yelp – would be wise to do is to focus on getting more positive reviews. The best way to get more reviews is to ask for them. If a customer is happy ask them if they would take a couple minutes to let others know how totally awesome your company is. Once they leave a review thank them for the review publicly like you would right below the review. This will help others see that you respond to good and bad and that you take the time to read the reviews left about you.



Bad reviews can be good it is all about how you respond to them.

Remember the steps:

  1. Identify the reason
  2. Create a response
  3. Follow through
  4. Ask customers who are happy for reviews.

Check back soon for an article on how to get more positive reviews…

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