How to Deal with Bad Reviews

by Steve Milner, July 20, 2018

If your business has any kind of online presence, then it’s safe to say that receiving a bad review is inevitable. Negative reviews can really hurt your business. In a recent survey done by BrightLocal found that two-thirds of customers form their opinion of a business after reading just four reviews. Don’t worry, it happens to everyone and it doesn’t have to be a total nightmare. While your first instinct may be to ignore it completely, don’t. It’s counterproductive and we’re here to provide you with some helpful advice on how to handle these kinds of situations.

Monitor Your Online Presence
You really need to be aware of your brand’s presence online. If you’re not out there actively looking then you’re totally in the dark. Using something like Google Alerts, Hootsuite, or Mention will help keep you in the know. Regularly monitoring each and every platform that your customers use will help you find bad reviews so you can respond quickly.

It is crucial that you think before you react to any bad reviews. Read it a few times. Is it legit? Or is it spam? You can flag an inappropriate post on almost any platform but don’t use this function on bad reviews.

Take notes. What was the issue that client experienced?  Are there any action points that are needed to resolve the problem? Before you respond, think about the best approach to handle these questions.

Respond ASAP
Be friendly AND professional. The person that left the bad review was already a customer, you want them to return to your business and use your services. Keep your tone of voice in mind, it should align with your brand. DO NOT GET DEFENSIVE. It’s unprofessional and will end up causing more harm than good. You need to be accountable to your customer, don’t just dismiss their complaint.  

Reply to the customer on the same platform they made the review on, don’t just send a PM. Other folks will be seeing this review so it’s important that they also see some sort of resolution to the problem.  

This is not the time to be careless, make sure you are responding to every bad review, not just the easily-solvable ones. Be consistent by making sure all of your customers feel equally heard and valued.

Be Personal
Try to connect with the customer, don’t just send a impersonal response. Use their name and show that you truly care about their complaint and will do your personal best to resolve it.


Here’s a neat little acronym that is commonly used to handle a bad review. Remember it.

Listen – People want to be heard so make it clear that you are actively listening by responding with something like “Do you have a suggestion?”
Empathize – Understand their frustration, this will help in finding a successful resolution. Remember customer complaints are legitimate and they deserve to be treated so.  
Apologize – Say that you’re sorry. It’s demonstrates remorse and accountability. Be sincere.
React – Take action to find a solution to the problem. This could mean a refund or a gift card or even a change of practice.
Notify – You need some conclusion to the interaction. Thank them for bringing the problem to your attention. Do let them know that the issue has been addressed or that changes of have been made.


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