How to Handle a Bad Online Review

by Joy Lanzaro

We all know that when things don’t go as planned in business, one side of the story might end up on Yelp. As a Diamond Certified company, you most likely made every effort to resolve the customer’s concerns in a fair and timely manner. You may have a lot of conflicting feelings about the reviewer and Yelp, and you might even be concerned that the review could negatively impact your business. Here are three things to keep in mind:


  1. How you respond to a bad review can reveal more about your company’s character than numerous perfect reviews. I believe your response to a one-star review can leave a positive impression. Use the opportunity to shine.
  2. Trust that readers know crazy when they see it. If you got a crazy reviewer, be the rational one.
  3. Keep in mind that some readers are suspicious of 200+ five-star reviews. Having a few less-than-perfect reviews may lend credibility in some readers’ minds.


When responding to a negative Yelp review, focus on the three F’s: facts, figure it out and future.


Lay out the relevant facts. Focus on addressing the reviewer’s fact-based, performance-related concerns.


Figure it out
Explain how you learned what caused your performance to fall short of expectations (if it did).


Discuss what steps you’ll take in the future to prevent something like this from happening again.


If you were a customer, would you hire your company after reading your response? You probably would if your response accurately reflects 1) a constructive and timely response to unpredictable events and 2) the humility to take immediate steps to own, apologize and correct the rare times that an error does occur.


We recently had a Yelper write an extremely long review about a Diamond Certified company that involved a wild conspiracy theory. The review was filled with attention-seeking statements, claims and assumptions. I believe the review was posted to leverage a refund. Remember to be the rational one and trust that readers will draw their own conclusions. Don’t get caught up in drama and never speak about the customer’s character. The last thing a reader wants to see is a defensive, personal response. It’s off-putting and will likely cause the reader to empathize with the reviewer, which will magnify the negative influence of that one-star review. Among many five-star reviews, the one-star review may be your best opportunity to sell your company to future customers because it catches the eye. Your rational, reflective and reassuring response will leave a positive, long-lasting impression.