How To Handle Bad Online Reviews As A Business Owner | webFEAT Complete Blog

How To Handle Bad Online Reviews As A Business Owner

Oct 20

How To Handle Bad Online Reviews As A Business Owner

Yelp, Google, Facebook, Foursquare, Trip Advisor, Open Table. The list goes on and one. These are just some of the outlets where customers can leave reviews on their experiences with your business. These are sites that you simply can’t throw by the wayside. A study done by the Harvard Business School found that a one star increase in overall rating on a listing results in a 5%-9% increase in revenue. That’s not a statistic to ignore. Not to mention reviews are visible when someone does a search for your business. Yep, right there on the front of Google.

The misconception about these online review websites is that once a reviewer leaves a review, whether it be positive or negative, it is set in stone. This is simply not true. The great thing about these sites is that they offer you tools to communicate with the reviewer to resolve their issue with your business.


What To Do When Receiving Bad Online Reviews

  • Respond to the review publicly – Virtually all of these review sites give you the option to respond to a reviewer. Because there are always two sides to a story, this feature is helpful for a variety of reasons. First, it gives you the opportunity to apologize to the customer for their bad experience. It also gives you the chance to offer to make-up for their issues. You should never bash a reviewer however. Even if you disagree with what the person is saying you should be apologetic and take their problems in to consideration. Take this review from a local restaurant here in Cincinnati. The person gave the establishment 3 stars originally voicing some concerns. The business replied and assured the person that they have rectified their problem and suggested they come back in to give them another shot. And guess what? They updated their review to 5-stars after another visit. This is just one example of effective customer service through review sites.


  • Respond to the review privately – If the matter at hand is a little more sensitive, responding to the review privately may be a better option. This also serves the purpose of an owner being able to give a customer their personal phone number, or email so they can personally try and solve the problem.
  • Flag the review – There are a number of reasons you may want to do this. Maybe you feel (or know) that this review is a conflict of interest. It could be a competing business, an ex-employee, or someone who hasn’t even visited your establishment. The best course of action is to flag or report the review. This alerts the moderators to check into the review as to the validity of it.
  • Respond with thanks – Make it known that you are aware of their review and appreciate them taking the time to write one. This shows them and other potential customers that you care about them as consumers.


What NOT To Do When Receiving Bad Online Reviews

  • Deny the issue exists – When a customer has a complaint the worst thing to do is to deny that the issue exists. Even if you feel that the problem is on their end, you should acknowledge the issue.
  • Argue With Reviewer – Of course it’s only natural that you feel angry when you receive a bad review. However, the worst thing you can do is post negative comments in a public forum, because of the internet, these last forever and give a negative image of your business.
  • Fake reviews – Some owners may feel the urge to write fake positive reviews to even out their rating. Or even hire people to write positive reviews. On some sites these come with repercussions including consumer reports warning users of the attempt to game the system.
  • Do nothing – Ignoring the reviews gives the image that you don’t care what people think. Even if the review is bad, taking action on them shows that you at least care about people’s experiences at your establishment.


Reviews aren’t going anywhere anytime soon so it’s best you start taking action to ensure your business is handling them properly. Not to mention reviews show up in search results, directly under you business listing in some cases, which adds another layer to SEO efforts. If you follow these guidelines and take a proactive approach to online reviews you will see increased revenue directly stemming from websites like Facebook, Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, Open Table and others.

About The Author

Justin is the Social Media Manager at webFEAT Complete. As the resident social media expert he is responsible for planning and executing effective social media strategies for clients that drive traffic and increase social SEO. When he's not reading up on the latest social media trends he is on a constant journey to find the best burger in Cincinnati (a never ending quest).

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