Dealing With A Bad Online Review

Social media. It’s such a buzz word nowadays. But it is crucial to any business. I’m sure every one of us has searched for a restaurant or business, and the first thing you do is read the reviews. Or you’re shopping on Amazon and before clicking the “Buy” button, you read the reviews. Good reviews can bring many leads. Bad reviews, ugh.

You’ve set up your business on Facebook and Yelp. Your clients have started leaving you reviews. The majority are positive, but you have a few that are dissatisfied.

So how do you deal with a bad review?

  1. DON’T get defensive. This is a natural reaction. You’ve poured your heart and soul into your business. How dare they not love it as much as you do. Acknowledge the client’s experience. Apologize. And perhaps offer to give you the opportunity to improve their experience by inviting them back.
  2. DON’T ignore it. Ignoring a bad review will not make it disappear. First, it will make that client feel justified in their review. And secondly, it will make that client and potential clients feel that you don’t care about the customer experience. When we both know this not to be the case.
  3. DON’T get pulled into an online battle. You’ve made your initial, polite response, but the unhappy customer just continues to complain. Offer again to remedy the situation and invite them to contact you offline. You must always remain calm and not get sucked in.
  4. DON’T beg for positive reviews to hide your negative reviews. It’ as bad as Don’t #2. Instead, properly address the negative review. You want your reviews to be genuine and heartfelt. Sometimes that gets lost if you are asking for positive reviews.


  1. DO acknowledge and apologize for their poor experience without assigning blame. Most people just want to feel they have a voice. Be genuine when empathizing with them.
  2. DO tactfully promote your business in your response, if the situation presents itself. You’re sorry _____ happened to them, but perhaps their next experience will include ____. You don’t want to sound like an ad, and you don’t want to sound like you’re negating their experience. So be careful when doing this.
  3. DO be authentic and personal. Customers want to know that they are being heard by a real person and that they are being responded to in a one on one situation. Avoid having your response sound canned. Sincerity is key.
  4. DO take if offline. You’ve introduced yourself. Acknowledged their experience. Stated your business’ positive strength. Made a sincere and heartfelt apology. And you’ve left contact info for them to contact you to further resolve the issue.

“Hello, this is Beth, owner of Beth’s Baking (authentic and personal). I’m sorry you were unhappy with the service you received at our bakery (apologetic, acknowledges issue without blame). It is our sincere goal for every guest to leave feeling personally cared for (positive image). Please call me so we can further resolve this issue to your satisfaction (taking it offline).”

While negative reviews can hurt both your business and your heart, after all this business is your baby, DO use them as a learning experience. Put the emotion aside and truly hear what your customers are telling you. Learn from these reviews. Use them to continually improve your business. If you do that, everyone wins.

Posted in