How to Handle Negative Online Reviews

How to Handle Negative Online Reviews

By Cebron Walker, Marketing Specialist

Cebron is a marketing and PR expert with twelve years of experience in Public Relations and publicity in the book and film industry and ten years as a Marketing Agency Director. I invite you to check out his tips for handling negative online reviews. – Rohn Walker


Let’s face it, every business or practice hates receiving a bad review. It cuts deep and feels like a stab in the heart. After all, you work daily to serve and help your clients or patients. It feels terrible when someone writes something negative about you or your practice or business.

Further, no reviews or bad reviews DO affect your sales and leads. Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • 92% of consumers will hesitate to buy a product if there are no or bad reviews.
  • 94% of consumers say they won’t patronize a business because of negative reviews.
  • 75% of people trust a company after seeing a positive review.

Those percentages are pretty bad. But don’t get discouraged if you have some bad reviews. Realize that you are not alone. Yes, it is incredibly frustrating. But receiving a bad review is certainly not unique to you. It is a problem for healthcare practices and other types of small businesses all over the country. The Internet is a wonderful playground for people with spite and bad intentions. People can say just about whatever they want without any restriction or consequences.

As the owner of a digital marketing agency (Walker Kreative) focused on helping healthcare practices, this is often a topic of conversation. “How do I handle a bad review?” and “How do I get more positive reviews?” are common questions. In this article, we’ll talk about handling the negative ones.

How to handle negative online reviews

The first thing to do is step back, give yourself a breather and realize it’s not as bad as you think it is. Go and do some work; get your mind off it. Then come back to it and handle it without all the emotions getting in the way.

Indeed, some bad reviews are because of a mishandled service or treatment. But often, it is a disgruntled past employee or someone who is spiteful and wants to criticize your business and say how you could have done better, no matter the quality of service.

So, what do you do? What are your options? There are many. And at Walker Kreative, we’ve handled all versions of a bad review over the past several years.

Most reviews will be on Google or Facebook. There are other review sites as well, but you handle these in similar ways.

The “best practices” for dealing with a bad online review:

  1. First, understand your goal – it is to get the negative review removed or the error repaired so the person who wrote it removes it or updates it saying you fixed the problem.
  2. Second, don’t respond or do anything while you are angry or upset. Step away from it and go back to work or do something else until you can return to it with a less emotional reaction.
  3. If you know the person, and if possible, contact them off-line and see if you can get them back in or in some way fix the problem. With the issue resolved, you can ask if they wouldn’t mind updating their review. (Everyone realizes how critical reviews are.)
  4. If you don’t know the person and have no evidence of them being a client, go to the review and ask Google or the other social platform to report the review as false and request it removed. You can state it is harassment, a conflict of interest, or whatever other reason fits
  5. The same above applies if you know the person was a past employee, a competitor, or something similar

Note: Not all reviews, even if they are wrong, will be removed, but you can do your best and try.

  1. If you can’t reach the person off-line but think they did receive service, you can thank the reviewer for reaching out to you. Don’t lash out. Even if you’re right, it won’t end in your favor. Your goal is to defuse the situation, not win an argument. Stay high ground.
  2. Tell them how you are improving policies and would like to have them back to fix anything that may have occurred. Address legitimate concerns only. Issues within your control and negative reflections on your business are worth addressing. You can waste a lot of time on people who will never be happy, so don’t take up their direct criticisms or attempts to make you look bad.
  3. At the end of the day, realize that people reading these bad reviews, and your responses to them, will be able to see how you tried to fix the situation. That’s the most important thing. If you are professional and appropriately answer, most people will see it. The spiteful and mean reviewer will also stand out as a negative person who is not worth listening to.

Keynote Guides to Handling an Online Negative Review.

  • Please don’t ask a negative reviewer to remove their review. This can easily make things worse and they could add that you did that. You can ask them to update their review if the situation has been resolved.
  • Before responding, ensure you get all the facts straight. Know the situation inside out and be prepared to offer ideas to remedy a problem. Some people need to vent and let off steam, and you’re better off just taking it. Other times, if there’s a problem with your business worth taking to heart, thank the customer for bringing it to your attention.
  • When you have resolved the problem to the person’s satisfaction, ask for an update to the review to reflect your efforts. They might update it, or they might not. If they do, excellent! If not, at least your business is on record as having replied to the reviewer.

Finally, and probably the MOST IMPORTANT point of this list, is to continue producing good quality service, treatments, and products and work to get more positive reviews. When you have lots of great reviews and lots of raving fans, then you are thriving, and nothing can bring you down, not even a mean review from someone with a black heart.

Here’s to your growth and excellent online reputation!

CEO, Walker Kreative


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