What You Can Do About Bad Reviews

Ugh. The dreaded negative review has happened. The damage is done and what’s worse is that you can’t take it down. It’s there for everyone to see, shaming you. So how do you turn into the skid? Right now, it’s public record, and you need to fix the problem as soon as possible. Whatever the venue, Facebook Business, Yelp, or a Google review, all of these platforms matter. It’s essential to address a customer’s issue, even if there isn’t much you can do immediately. 

Step back and take a breath. No one is perfect.

What you need to remember is bad reviews happen. It’s all about how you rectify the situation. Don’t let bad reviews linger without resolution, it will only encourage other customers to pile on. Get a few bad reviews, and they could sink your place of business quicker than any bad press ever could. It’s critical to show that you’re concerned about a bad review and care what people think. 

Think about how you check out new places, a lot of us read reviews on Google or Yelp, especially if we’re in a new town or looking for a specific type of food or service. If there’s a sea of four and five star reviews with one or two bad ones sprinkled in, most people can see that the reviewer was being difficult or whatever the case may be. But, the point is, we’re all reading the reviews, even if we’re trusting all of those five star reviews as gospel.


So, what should you do? 

Well, it turns out, there’s a lot. 

Here’s the first thing to think about: does the review need a response? 

If someone complains about the mustard bottle being half empty, that’s not a federal offense. Let’s be honest, people do just like to have the platform to complain. But, sometimes, comments can be downright brutal. If the feedback is a little jabby, but factual, acknowledge it and move on. Show that you’re paying attention. 

But, when someone leaves the ranting, all caps nonsense, that’s nothing but pure slander – don’t bother. If the comment is inflammatory but has a shred of truth, you can respond, but do so tactfully. If the comment is a bunch of nonsensical name calling and helpful to no one, Yelp and Google have guidelines for these sorts of offenses but don’t count on them getting removed. There are built in algorithms which will push bad reviews down toward the bottom, but still, they’re there.  


What should the reply look like? 

Don’t respond right away if someone left a comment an hour ago. Give yourself a little time to think it through. No one has ever gotten anywhere by responding through pure emotion. Make sure you’ve got the story straight from employees if you’re the manager. When you’re ready to respond, keep these simple things in mind: 

  • Thank the person for their thoughts 
  • Address their concerns 
  • Stay as professional as possible
  • Give them some contact info if they want to follow up

Commenting out in the open shows your business values customer interactions. 


Should you reply privately?

There’s no harm in sending a polite, professional message. You can encourage the person to call or email, as well, it all depends on how comfortable you are with conflict resolution. There’s a potential that this person might be a little salty about their experience. They might take it out on you. 

The best-case scenario is that the reviewer updates their review, and everyone wins. If you’re a taco stand, you’ll probably have to offer a few free orders of chips and queso, but whatever. Don’t ask them to take it down, but instead ask them for an update. It’s better to have an updated “ok” review than a bad Yelp review.

One of the most critical things you can do is to take the high road. No matter what the situation is, think about the long-standing effect bad reviews can do to a business. This doesn’t mean placate everyone who doesn’t like the temperature of the store, but if a customer has a genuinely less than desirable experience, it’s crucial to treat these concerns with respect. 


Just remember: bad reviews are going to happen. 

Give credence when there’s a legitimate concern, but don’t overwhelm yourself by answering every little complaint. That said, if you keep seeing the same charge over and over again, there’s clearly an issue. Make sure you’re communicating with staff on potential issues, but also staying informed on any and all things that might pop up in on Google or Yelp. There’s no silver bullet in finding out how to remove bad Google reviews. 

Do you have a strategy for dealing with bad reviews? We’d love your input. Comment or send us a message, we’re always looking for even better best practices. For everything else, don’t forget to check out the Adia blog. There’s a little something for everyone.

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