What To Do When You Get A Bad Online Review

Uh oh! You just received a bad online review and the customer is furious. Your next actions determine whether or not you can make the best out of an unfortunate situation.

Receiving a bad review can feel like the end of the world for a small business owner. Your business is personal and it can feel like a kick in the gut. Some outcomes are unavoidable and sometimes very one-sided. However, these are the same feelings on either side of the transaction.

A poor experience is often caused by miscommunication, or the lack of communication, but good communication is often the cure.

Your customer or client may feel like their needs were not satisfied, which leads to an emotional response. This response can come in the form of a complaint, which can be publicly visible for all to see if left in an online review.

Now that online reviews are common place, a higher level of accountability is required for creditable small business owners, and due diligence is required to keep an eye out for these complaints in order to correct the wrong.

When your business receives a bad review, here are some steps for attempting to turn it around.

Don’t get upset, relax and reflect on the customer’s experience

Were the needs of the customer fully met? If not, did they have different expectations? Wrong expectations occur before the transaction has taken place. By the end of the transaction, these wrong expectations have had time to grow into something bigger.

Upset customers usually just want to be heard and get attention

What you have to understand is that the customers who are vocal about their discontent are giving you the opportunity to improve your abilities, communication, and the experience you create for all of your customers. Treat this as a learning experience, every time.

Decide the best course of action

Customers can be consoled through communication. If the customer’s issue is reasonable and there is a possible positive solution, this needs to be communicated with the customer. At the same time, you need to be open to the customer’s feedback.

Write out your first communication

Carefully craft your communication with the customer, even if it will be over the phone or in person. This preparation helps you keep your own emotions under control. Make light the fact that the review has been received and apologize for any error in services or product. If the issue is with a product, can it be returned or replaced easily? If it is a service, can the result be modified or services rendered again easily?

Give time for processing and easing emotions

When you contact the customer, give them time to process what is happening. They may still be upset, so giving additional time for emotions to settle can be a good for the outcome. While the customer is taking the time to process a new option, be ready for their response. You want to be quick and responsible for completing any next steps.

Be persistent, but not annoying

If you are unable to reconcile on the first contact, follow up with another contact several days later. You want to be courteous of your customers time and attention, and by consistently following up to resolve the issue, you are displaying your dedication to good service. Be careful not to badger your customer with too much contact as it can be seen as annoying, or even harassing.

Give assurance and ask for a second chance

Once the customer is ready to reasonably communicate, provide assurance that their satisfaction is priority. This is now the opportunity to right the wrong and correct any issue that resulted in the negative review. Don’t go overboard and sell yourself short, but do give extra effort to make the situation right. Also, make it a priority to improve your communication with the customer. Your goal is to please your unhappy customer so they reconsider their attitude towards your business.

Ask for a new a review

Your best approach here is to be grateful the second chance and the learning experience. Hopefully, you did find a way to grow as a professional and as a business to avoid this situation in the future. When the customer is pleased with the results of the transaction, you can request that the customer reconsider their negative review and update it with new information.

Show your appreciation

Give your appreciation to the customer for their collaboration for solving the issue. Without them speaking out on their negative experience, you would not have the opportunity to become better.


While it is possible to change the outcome of some sour transactions, not all will be as simple or forgiving. Do your best to prevent this type of scenario in the future by making the channels for communication with your customers loud and clear. Online reviews are a great way to boost your business’ exposure and credibility, but these same reviews can work against your business when utilized by the vocal few who want to be heard.


How are you improving the experiences of your customers?

Leave your answer and feedback in the comments section below.

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