How Can I Handle Negative Reviews Online?

Receiving negative reviews online is an inevitable reality of having an online presence. Even local businesses with high quality services, even those that have received numerous accolades for their services, will still suffer the complaints of at least one implacable patron.

There are several routes for the business owner who has suffered a backlash on an online review site. The most popular online review site for local businesses is Yelp. If you receive a bad review on Yelp, the first thing you can do is flag the review. If it is clearly false, contains offensive language, or it contains sensitive information related to your business, this should be your first step. Yelp has strict policies regarding these types of reviews, so there is a good chance the review will be removed if it breaks their policy.

If none of these apply to the negative review, the next step you can take is to respond the review. This is where the business owner responds directly to the review with their side of the story. If you can recall the reviewer being at your store, and know why they are voicing their complaints, this is best. You can explain what happened and why, and may be able to give the reviewer some kind of reparations. Or alternatively, you can call out the reviewer for not telling the whole truth, or for exaggerating the story to favor themselves.

Another option, and this is probably the worst option you can take, is to wait out the review. Many reviews naturally get filtered out of Yelp’s system. This is especially likely if the reviewer has no other reviews or friends. This is risky, however, and you should be proactive with your reviews.

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