I Hate Your Business, So What?

Negative Business ReviewsWe all have them – those mean, nasty customers that are hard to please. Some of them even seem like they do everything they can to make sure you don’t please them. So what happens when that customer makes their way online to review your business? What do you do when that “one-star” review pops up on Google, Yelp, or Facebook? Easy, follow these four R’s of bad reviews!


First and foremost, once you notice the review, respond. I recommend trying to personalize it as much as possible, but it may be beneficial to come up with a generic script to start. Make sure you script contains the complainant’s name, an apology for any misunderstandings, a request to help make it better, and a way to contact you. Sometimes, this may be the only step that you need to take. Some people get hacked and leave reviews they did not know occurred, some simply leave reviews on the wrong page and responding makes them reevaluate the name, or, if someone doesn’t completely understand how reviews work, they may have left the negative review completely on accident! Don’t become emotional, take a breath and take the first leap of responding.


Review the case on hand. When did this customer come in? What good did they buy or what service was provided? Who was in contact with this customer? When the customer calls (or if you attempt to contact them), make sure you ask these. Also, while you’re on the phone reviewing, allow them to air their grievances. Sometimes, the best way to solve the problem is to let the customer first yell at you a little. I know it can be difficult, but many times these angry people want to be heard and tell their side of the story to someone who is listening, and just listening can really help.


Repair the problem. Does the product need to be replaced? Offer to get them a new one. Do they need a technician to come back out and repair something they missed? Send the technician ASAP. Do what you can to fix the problem at hand. I realize sometimes there is no resolution, but sometimes it does help to show the customer that you are trying to ensure their happiness.


This is the biggest one – request that they update their review. If they are satisfied with the solution and how things are handled, most will be more than willing to at least give an update. No, it still may not be a perfect 5-star review, but it is better than a 1-star! By updating, it shows that you have worked with the customer to reach an understanding. This, in turn, shows other customers that you are committed to customer service and want to be sure everyone is satisfied when they have used your product or service.

Try not to delete negative reviews if possible. The only time I would recommend deleting a review is when it contains: a) profanity, b) a personal attack at an employee, or c) any sort of threat to the business or to a person. If any of these appear in the review, take a screen shot of the review for future reference and then delete it.

Remember, not all negative reviews are necessarily bad. These reviews give you a chance to showcase your customer service skills, identify a weakness you might not have known existed, and gives you more legitimacy. Bad reviews may even benefit your business! In a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, products with polite negative reviews (ie starting off with “in my opinion,” or “I don’t want to be rude”) hardly affect customer perception of the particular product.

So remember the four R’s next time someone wants to bash your business online. If you would like to learn more about responding to negative reviews, ask us! Let us #TurnTheLightBulbOn for your business one review at a time.

About Nicole Firebaugh

Nicole is a graduate of Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, with a degree in Advertising with a minor in Creative Writing. She has had experience working in retail, graphic design, photography, and newspaper writing and editing, and is grateful to have found her future career at Harness Digital Marketing. She is excited to be here to #TurnTheLightBulbOn for your business!


  1. I own a funeral home. I would like to develop an e-letter to send to a family requesting that they review the services on Google Reviews or Yelp. The problem I’m having a problem with Google Reviews is that people have a problem finding the page where to leave the review. Google doesn’t make it very easy. I would like a very simple set of directions (text or link maybe) as well as a convincing letter to get these folks to act. Mobile friendly certainly. What type of person should I be looking for to complete this task? Do you do stuff like this?

    I have FB, Google+ and a website http://www.bradygill.com. SIU Alumni 1978. 2 daughters Maura 2012 and Kari 2013 also Dawgs.

    Thanks for any help.
    Mike Gill

    • Mike, this is a common question we come across. There are different ways to obtain reviews, but the best way to do it is to cross promote reviews among email campaigns, social media, and your website. We have found success with using direct links with a call to action and follow up emails 2 weeks after the service/job was completed. It’s more about getting a system in place than anything. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at info@harnessteched.com or call us at 31-884-1192.

      • Any examples online? Couldn’t figure out the phone number you sent.

        • Hello, Mike! I’m sorry about that, the phone number is 314-884-1192. We do not have any online examples of the process, but we’d be more than happy to explain it further if you’d like. Feel free to give us a call and someone will be glad to assist you!

  2. Great article! Thanks for sharing. I know it’s best to return to the client’s home or business ASAP to take care of any small details that are troubling to the client. That’s the best way to respond.

    • Thanks for reading, Guido! Customers are your number one lead generator – if they’re not happy, people will know. Taking care of the customer needs to be a high priority for every business.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: