Bad Online ReviewsIt’s the digital age and nobody likes to make a bad online purchase.

So they check the online reviews.

But what happens when your business gets tagged with bad reviews?

It could really affect your sales.

Even the best businesses get the occasional bad online review.

It happens!

So what do you do about it?

There are two ways to view a bad online review:

  1. as a threat
  2. as an opportunity

Since bad reviews are inevitable, knowing how to deal with them isn’t enough; you should know how to capitalize on them as well… and that’s exactly what we’re going to break down!

Dealing With Bad Online Reviews

Say you get a bad review on Yelp, Google, Facebook, whatever! Take a deep breath and follow these steps to the best of your ability!

Or Let The Pros Do It

Acknowledge There’s An Issue

Mistakes happen, even to the best of us.

Sometimes the mistake(s) isn’t even your fault.

Regardless, it’s your responsibility to acknowledge there’s an issue and reach out to the displeased customer. This will benefit you in a few ways:

  1. Responding politely conveys that your business cares about its customers and is willing to fix issues, rather than ignore them.

  2. It shows your business is transparent and will own up to its mistakes, rather than kick them under the fridge. Customers know mistakes happen and they’d rather see a business admit a mistake and move on. This shows a human side and establishes trust within consumers.

  3. It will encourage potential customers checking your reviews that you are an honest, people-friendly business that reflects highly for any brand.

In other words, you can either let your business burn or look cool putting the fire out.


When we say apologize, we’re not suggesting you should automatically admit to guilt because there may not be any.

You should initially apologize for the customer’s bad experience to defuse any hostility. It gives the dissatisfied customer an opportunity to cool down and shows other reviewers/onlookers that your brand is composed.

Make it Clear You’re Working on the Issue

Consumers will be calm if they know you’re working with them, which makes the process much easier. This also shows onlookers that you’re taking a productive approach.

There are SO many businesses that try to hide the fact that there’s a problem, rather than take the genuine road and work with their customers.

Wouldn’t you rather potential customers see the human side of your business?

Determine Who’s At Fault

This is not a matter of pointing fingers.

However, you have to identify where (and how) something went wrong if you’re to begin fixing it.

Thoroughly investigate the situation by getting your employees’ side of the story.

If you own a restaurant, consider contacting bystanders for an unbiased account in exchange for a coupon.

When it’s Your Fault

If you determine your company was at fault, apologize again. Depending on the severity of the situation, you can choose to continue the conversation publically, or take it to a private setting.

When to Continue in Public

If you’re talking about a common issue and the customer is being civil, keep the conversation where it is. Since the contents of the situation aren’t very damaging, you have little to lose and a lot to gain if you win the customer back.

When to Take Things Offline

If the situation is more serious and/or your customer is irate, consider taking the conversation to a private setting such as a private chat or a phone call. This will prevent any damaging info from surfacing and will give you a chance to help the customer in a more intimate setting.

When it’s Their Fault

In the event that the review is fake or inaccurate, you can go on the offensive (within reason). Consumers know bad reviews can hurt businesses, so when a reviewer is respectively called out for being wrong, you have an opportunity to rally support.

We’ll use Mary S and Broadway Oyster Bar, as an example.

The review detailed Mary S’ “sub par” experience. This is the actual review.

Seems damning, right? Well, John, the restaurant’s owner had a different account of what happened. Here’s what he had to say.

This added some more context to the situation and while onlookers might not know 100% what happened that night, they respected John’s rebuttal.

Knowing when to challenge a bad review requires strong judgment and adequate experience.

Analyze My Reviews

Fix the Problem

Above all else, your primary objective should be to resolve whatever issue your customer is having.

If you can fix the problem and share the experience with visitors, you’ll have a chance to mitigate the issue, salvaging customers and building trust among potential the process.

Thank Them For Their Feedback

That’s right, thank them for their feedback. 

Like we said in the beginning, poor reviews should be seen as an opportunity to improve. Encouraging feedback is the best way for your business to improve and is a great way to build your business’s online reputation.

Finally, be sure to learn from the experience.

Managing your online reviews shouldn’t just be a projection of a positive online reputation, it should be the quest for better. 

Are negative online reviews hurting your business? You’re not alone! Active Web Group has been helping businesses of all sizes and industries build their reputations for over 20 years. 

Contact one of our experts for a free online consultation. Can’t wait? Give us a call at 800-978-3417.