The hard truth about negative online reviews

Online reviews are powerful. They can make or break your business, and they’re more important today than ever before. If you’ve been around the block a few times in the customer service world, you know that negative feedback isn’t always so bad—sometimes it brings to light some areas that need to be improved in your business, which makes your company better. But when it comes down to it, most businesses would rather not have any bad reviews at all. As a result, some might try to remove them from websites like Yelp or Google Reviews. However, this isn’t only ineffective—it can also be dangerous for your brand reputation in general!

The hard truth about online reviews is that the power of what people say about you on the internet is real. In fact, it can make or break your business. If a customer likes your product, service or experience, they will probably tell their friends (and new customers) about it. But if something goes wrong and someone has a bad experience at your place of business, they’re going to express their discontent publicly by writing an online review – even if those negative reviews are unfair or inaccurate in some way!  

So what do you do? The answer lies in understanding why these types of online reviews happen in the first place; learning how best to handle them once they appear; and thinking about proactive ways you can avoid having them at all (or prevent them from getting worse). 

Why Do Bad Reviews Happen?

Here are a few reasons people leave negative reviews after dealing with a company:  

    • Poor customer service: A customer who has a bad experience with your business will be more likely to leave a negative review than someone who had a good experience. If you don’t do an adequate job of handling the problem at hand, they’ll have no choice but to voice their frustration online.

    • Poor quality of service: This can include anything from not meeting their expectations in terms of delivery times or product quality, to providing poor communication or failing to follow up after sales have been made.

    • Poor communication skills: When someone leaves a negative review about your business, it’s important that you address their concerns head-on and professionally—not defensively or apologetically like many businesses typically do (and thus exacerbate the situation). Customers want answers! They want explanations for what happened and how it will be fixed moving forward, too – if applicable.

Should You Respond to Negative Reviews?

Should you respond to negative reviews?

Absolutely! First and foremost, responding to your customers is an opportunity to build trust with them. Customers trust businesses that are willing (and able) to help them. Your response can also provide a valuable learning experience for you and your employees alike. In fact, many businesses have found that responding positively when their customers post negative reviews has led to positive results such as increased sales and improved customer retention rates.

However, it’s important not just because it helps build trust but also because failing to do so could result in legal action against you by the reviewer or someone else who feels aggrieved by the review—a situation no one wants!

What Should You Say in Your Response?

When you respond to a review, it’s important to be honest and transparent. Your response should not try to sugarcoat the situation or use excuses; it should simply be an explanation of what happened, how you feel about it, and why it will not happen again.

If you can’t offer any details regarding the issue that led to the bad review (for example, if your restaurant was closed down due to a fire), try explaining as best as possible what happened in general terms so that customers understand why there was no response from management or staff members at first. Remember: these people aren’t just reviewing your business—they’re giving their money! Show them respect by being honest about what went wrong and how you plan on fixing things going forward.

Respond quickly when someone leaves feedback on Google or Yelp with new information about resolving an issue for yourself or for others who may have had similar experiences with your brand–this will help show other potential customers that there are real people behind every company out there working hard every day towards making sure things run smoothly for everyone involved! 


I know that it can be hard when you receive negative feedback, but try not to take things personally! Instead, use this opportunity to learn from each experience to help your business grow and reach the level of service your customers need and want.  And – the good news is that many people expect to see at least a couple bad reviews about a business online – but as long as the good reviews outweigh the bad, they will still patronize your business.  

-Angela Black

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