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  • Writer's pictureJoe Odas

Control Your Critiques

What can you and your business do to reverse negative online feedback?

What we post online is forever. It should no longer be needed to have this fact hammered into our minds when observing today's world. Jobs and business opportunities have been won and lost based off of employers and prospective clients reactions to one's online content. What might seem like a harmless joke to one person may be deeply offensive to someone else who might have been willing to open up their wallets for your business or employment.

But how are businesses able to control the narrative when they are unable to control the content impacting their company? Online review companies such as Yelp and Glassdoor make it possible for businesses to be evaluated externally with no way to change their rating. These sites do allow businesses to reach out to their reviewers to attempt to rectify the situation, but few actually adjust their score based off of the response. If they do, it is mostly even more negative.

There's no sense in getting upset over reviews that you cannot control. As a matter of fact, getting upset is probably the worst thing that you can do - especially if you choose to harness that negative energy in a response back to your critics. It's best to turn that frown upside down and "kill your critics with kindness".

Here are some Do's and Don'ts on how to respond to customer reviews.

- What NOT to Do

(Taken from a real life Yelp Review)

Is Jennifer A. a jerk? Probably. She obviously doesn't like service with a smile and she was out of line with her comment. What the owner of this pizza restaurant needs to realize is that no one reading this knows which waitress Jennifer A. is referring to - so to continue this discussion in a public forum while asking something of your customer is counter productive. As painful as it might seem on some occasions, the customer is always right. Though it may seem honorable to show an employer standing up for an employee with such vigor, asking Jennifer A. to recant her review resulted in her downgrading her score to One Star possibly losing a customer forever. Not only that, but the circus like response regarding drugs in that "most of the population should be taking them" could affect future business prospects as not many people find jokes regarding mental illness to be funny, yet alone insinuating that the majority of the population should be on them. And that was supposed to be the original "respectful" response!

(Taken from a real life Glassdoor Review)

This doesn't seem like such a horrible review. The former employee of this marketing firm compliment their former coworkers and the work environment while critiquing the possibility of the firm trying to "spin" facts when discussing it's company growth and job openings. I've seen much harsher reviews on Glassdoor that did not warrant such a defensive response from the business. In the response, the business kind of does what the reviewer is referring to in their post in that they are not "growing" because of their success and that they are only hiring new employees to replace the one's who have left by stating the company's accolades and not really addressing the point. The company could have tried to not be patronizing in their tone, and tried to reach out to the reviewer and try to see if there are ways to make the situation right. The reviewer may have been impressed to the point that they took the review down. Instead, the defensive response with the conspicuous list of accolades makes it seem like there is a little truth to the reviewer's viewpoint.


It may be a real uncomfortable experience for many business owners to receive negative reviews online. The thing that you definitely don't want to do is ignore the reviewer. Being passive in this situation would seem that you don't care about what your customers or employees think, and allows a negative message to be permanently shown online about your company with no response. It's best to be proactive in customer feedback responses to show that your business is humble and would do anything to correct a negative experience. That response can only help you, and not hurt you.

- What to Do

(Taken from a real life Yelp Review)

Here's a pizza joint review where the customer didn't seem to have a problem with the food, but rather on "up charges" and the service. The service was so unsatisfactory that the customer used profanity in the review. (It sure is great to be anonymous, isn't it?) Though the response seemed like it came from a form message from the business, the owner provided a contact email for the customer to address the situation further. There was no sign of the business insulting the customer, nor did they seem patronizing. The business did everything in their power to rectify the situation, and hopefully offer some sort of incentive for the customer to give them another chance.

(Taken from a real life Glassdoor Review)

This reviewer did not really get into specific details as to why they provided this digital marketing agency with a 3 Star review, but the company responded in such a classy way that you almost forget what the reviewer wrote. Props to the company for admitting that they are not perfect, because many businesses have a hard time admitting that fact. The company mentions aspects of their employee retention rates that they are proud of without patronizing or insulting the reviewer. The response almost makes one think that there is a little truth to the business's viewpoint. The reviewer had the ability to provide them with a One Star review, but did not do it. Maybe this company could be a great place to work at after all? It's overall 4.4 star rating out 5 seems to prove that. Kudos to the company for not allowing one bad review to spoil the overall success of their reviews.

There is a popular saying that life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it. The same can be said of online reviews. Your business can either respond negatively, ignore the review, or respond in a positive manner. I believe that the latter is the best way for businesses to take a negative experience and change it to a way that could possibly lead to new business opportunities. What do you think?

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