Handling Negative Reviews Effectively

Handling Negative Reviews Effectively

There’s not much you can do to completely eliminate negative reviews, they are going to happen. Servers have bad days. Equipment breaks. Some people are just very hard to please. But how you respond to those negative reviews is fully under your control. Even a simple reply acknowledging the issue is better than nothing at all:

When you engage with upset customers, you’re speaking not just to them, but to every single person who might walk through your doors.

Anyone who reads that review will get a sense of you and your business from the way you respond to that single negative review. Ignoring online reviews only validates the complaints. It makes you appear neglectful and hurts your brand in an important online forum.

Apologizing, promoting your business by highlighting your strengths, and offering to make it right with an offline conversation will turn an impactful negative review into a potentially positive experience. This is especially true if you can fix the problem and get them to update their review.

Handling Negative Reviews Effectively

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Online Reviews

With the vast majority of consumers trusting the opinions of their fellow consumers online, you need to treat every review as an opportunity. Businesses that underestimate the power of even a short review from a customer are hurting themselves more than they may realize.

To take advantage of the situation, there are three things you can do:

  • Build a Plan to Solicit Reviews from Customers –Your business is likely to get dozens or even hundreds of reviews regardless of what you do. Instead of passive involvement, take a proactive role and solicit reviews at the point of purchase, on receipt printouts, and through your servers. This will create a conversation about your service, rather than a one-sided judgment.
  • Be Proactive in Engaging with Customers to Drive New Reviews –Building a list of customers through email, Facebook, or other social media allows you to reach out and ask for feedback when it matters most – whether you’re launching a new location, pushing a new menu item, or combatting a recent spate of negative reviews.
  • Don’t Be Afraid of the Bad –Have a Plan for Response – Build an action plan for how to handle negative reviews. It’s possible you’ve experienced the worst case scenarios when a business owner loses their temper and flames an online reviewer for what they perceive as an irrational complaint. By building a plan for response, including a timeframe for replying, what you’ll offer, and the language you will use, you can get in front of bad reviews and showcase your customer service to future customers.


By far the most important component of an online review policy is staff engagement. Ensuring your staff understands the importance of their performance is vital. Engaging them to ask for reviews will not only improve service quality but encourage them to take ownership of the process.

As an entrepreneur, reviews can make or break your business. Build a strong action plan, take them seriously, and be aware of what can happen if you don’t. If you do it right, you can turn every piece of feedback you receive into solid gold – benefiting both your public perception and your bottom line.

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