It’s a business owner’s greatest fear – negative online reviews! What do you do if you get a bad review? And what does it matter anyhow? Business reviews are a great way to get your customers working for you and spread the word about your business so naturally you want a plethora of positive reviews and few to zero negative ones. What do you do when faced with a vocal and unhappy customer?

Responding To Negative Reviews

I get asked pretty frequently about how to handle negative reviews. The first thing to do is react positively in the public forum – whether Yelp, Google business pages or Facebook – you always want to keep your reply positive and avoid repeating the negative words the client typed up. For example, the review says, “The coffee shop had a really slow line and service took forever”.

Write back immediately and say, “We like to provide prompt service, can we connect offline so I can learn more about what happened?” This accomplishes two things: it takes the conversation out of the public realm, it gives you an opportunity to see if it was just a particular day, a particular employee or just one particularly rushed customer. This also shows future review readers that you handled the issue quickly and cared about your customer’s opinion!

This is a huge one. Perhaps the customer will not be back, but you can bet that others will see that review. However your response speaks volumes about your character. Show you are an engaged business owner publically with a fast, kind and sympathetic gesture like offering to talk outside of the review forum.

Plan Ahead Because It’s Bound To Happen Eventually

Everyone wants to know if it’s possible to get rid of negative reviews. The answer is no. Unless the review is truly not about your business, you will get no sympathy from Google and especially not from Yelp. The best way to prepare for a negative review (which happens to the best businesses too!) is to prepare in advance by gathering positive reviews.

How do you gather positive reviews? The first step is to simply ask. When you are with your clients let them know you are trying to get the word out and it would help if they provided feedback online. Another way is to collect your client emails and send an email request for reviews. Lastly, put a sign up at your place of business and offer a check-in deal. This is especially helpful for Yelp reviews. Customers are more likely to write a review (and have it stick) if they check-in.

No one can make everyone happy, that’s a given no matter if it’s business or pleasure. But there are things you can do when an unhappy customer becomes a vocal customer. Curb their influence online by building your reviews organically, over time, with customer feedback from the clients who count most – the ones who already love you.