How to Deal With Negative Online Reviews

Recently one of my clients received a poor review and they asked me how they can deal with these negative reviews.  I thought what I wrote to him via email could be useful for any business so I’ve turned into a blog post.  Here is what I wrote:

(Client),  here are some great resources on how to deal with bad reviews (read below).  Treat this like a mini-resource guide to handling poor reviews & online brand management.

Most of the resource articles are written by my friends or local search marketing peers who do similar work to me.  This might be some good (or required) reading of your marketing, sales & customer support teams.  Let them understand the big picture and they’ll be better able to support your online brand management goals.

I suggest following ideas/strategies on these various local search engine marketing blogs when dealing with poor or negative reviews:

My personal opinion on how to handle bad reviews is this:

  1. Look at as a Positive – If it’s a real review, then learn from it and treat like an opportunity to improve your business.
  2. Contact Reviewer – Try to connect to the reviewer and thank them for their feedback and ask how you can make it right.  If you can ‘make it right’ with the client/customer, then ask them if they wouldn’t mind amending their review with an update of how you corrected the challenge.
  3. Be Offensive – The best way to fight bad or poor reviews is to get lots and lots of good reviews.  Find as many creative ways to ethically bribe your clients & customers to post online reviews of your products and/or services.

Now you can often respond to poor reviews directly on most of these review sites, however I caution you when doing so.  If you respond wrong, you could open yourself up for further scrutiny.  If you want to respond…PLEASE… before you do, read this post first: by another blogger I follow closely (Lisa Barone), she too writes some great marketing advice for small businesses.

Now one more thing you can do that a lot of small businesses don’t do, and that is they don’t study the reviews of their competition.  Crazy, right?!  How we can easily miss the obvious.

When you read poor reviews (even good ones) about your competition you can learn a ton.  This is golden information that can help you not fail prey to the same problems your competition is having.  It can give you a better insight into what your target audience wants and expects in your services.

You may also want to watch this quick video: In the the video, Seth Godin (one of my favorite writers) discusses with Top Chef Tom Colicchio how he handled a business that was slammed by a poor review.  It offers some great real life advice and what kind of mental state is best to deal with poor reviews.

All in all, bad reviews is a part of being a business owner.  It is natural for them to happen.  They can also add some trust because no one ever has ALL perfect reviews.  Try to see them as positive/gift to improving your business and implement some of the strategies offered in the resources listed above.

Now I know there are quite few resources (listed above) to dealing with bad reviews & online brand management and it will probably take you (or your team) about 30 minutes to through all the material and digest it all.

This may seem like a lot of time for someone as busy as yourself, but I highly recommend grabbing a good Cup of Joe and take the time necessary to go through all the material.  By understanding this important element of online marketing better will only greatly improve the bottom line of your business.

BTW, if you think the review is fake and it’s on Google Maps here is an interesting thread on Google Maps forum on how to remove a negative reviews.

Let me know your thoughts…? Or if you have any other questions.

Matthew Hunt


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6 Responses to “How to Deal With Negative Online Reviews”

  1. Very helpful post. In particular I like your advice: “The best way to fight bad or poor reviews is to get lots and lots of good reviews.” Sometimes it's worth trying to counter obviously fake negative reviews, but I think your recommendations are spot on. Did you see this Entrepreneur article?

    Some great examples illustrating your “Look at it as a positive” recommendation.

  2. Yeah just read it. Yes the social aspect of shopping is interesting. I like how they said “When online retailers engage in social media correctly, both they and the online community benefit.”

  3. In regards to reviews, it's probably more natural looking to have a mix of “stars” in your reviews anyways…if all your reviews are 5 star…that might look suspicious. So I'd count it as a good balance!

  4. Solid advice Matthew. I like your three tips. And thanks for mentioning myReviewsPage. I'd like to mention this post on the our blog too.

  5. Don – glad you liked. Yes, yes of course please feel free to mention it, it would be a honor to be mentioned. :)

  6. Great post, I think that the possibility of getting a negative review is what keeps so many companies from taking advantage of the online marketing opportunities. You offered some great insight on how to handle these situations.

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