How to Deal with a Negative Review

As a business owner, the idea of online reviews might scare the heck out of you. After all, the internet (and particularly social media) is a wide-open forum for people to say whatever they think whenever they think it, right? Right. So what do you do when someone has something less-than-perfect to say about your company? Well here is your guide to get you through the process and come out shining on the other end.

Step 1: Don’t Panic

The moment when you see that a customer has written something terrible about your company, your hackles go up, your blood pressure spikes and you naturally feel the need to jump to your own defense. Don’t! Take a deep breath and remember that even though you put your blood, sweat and tears into running a first-class operation, there is always a chance of one of your customers having a negative experience. Resist the urge to fire back a nasty response…that will do you more harm than good. Instead, let’s handle it in a smart, professional way.

Step 2: Consider Your Response

Every review deserves a response, but particularly a review from a customer who has had a bad experience. After all, this person felt so passionately about their experience with your company that they took the time to sit down and write about it. That’s huge. Your response should include the following:

·         Thank them for writing.

·         Let them know you hear what they’re saying.

·         Ensure that you will take action.

Many times, a reviewer simply wants to be heard. They really are doing you a favor by expressing their feelings so be grateful for the information they are providing. This doesn’t mean that you must offer them something free in return, although that may sometimes be warranted. Even if the customer has some of their facts wrong, or if there were extenuating circumstances (they were late for their reservation, etc.), the customer still left with the impression that they had been treated unfairly or didn’t receive what they expected from your business.

Step 3: Be Sincere

Now that you have responded, the responsibility is on you to do something about the situation to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Put an action plan into place to ensure that all of your customers have a good experience even when things initially go wrong. Give your team the direction and authority to make customers happy…immediately!



Step 4: When to Consider Reporting or Deleting the Review

I’ve been asked many times if the business owner should delete negative reviews or report them as abusive to Facebook, Google, TripAdvisor or Yelp. The answer to this is almost always “no.” If the reviewer has a legitimate complaint, the right course of action is to hear the customer out and respond appropriately. The only time a review should be deleted or reported is if it is false, intentionally misleading or otherwise malicious. It’s pretty rare for a competitor to post a false negative review, and the online community has many tools in place to prevent this, but it can still happen. In that case, our Screaming Fans Marketing team has the playbook on how to take action against this.

The bottom line is to let social media be social media. The immense power of our customers freely talking about brands they love or don’t love is the driving force behind business today. We as business owners should be able to rest easy at night knowing that as long as we are doing a great job for people, they will talk about that one hundred million times more than the isolated negative incident.

If your company would like to chat about your social media strategy, get in touch with us at today!

Jennifer Leach