So, it’s happened. Your business received a bad online review from a customer. While your gut reaction, may be to feel angry or embarrassed and want to defend yourself, there are several better steps you can take to reduce the damage and ultimately make things right with the customer and win them back over. If you find your business with a bad online rating, read more to learn how to handle bad reviews.

Reviews are important and can go a long way to help future customers determine if they should work with you. Managing both good and bad reviews are an important part of any digital marketing strategy and should be treated as such.

If your business has received a bad online review, take these steps to win the customer back, learn from the experience, and grow in a way that will prevent the need for future poor reviews:

  1. Turn on Review Notifications: First and foremost, make sure you have email notifications set up for any platform your business accepts reviews on, including Google, Yelp, Facebook, and the many other review platforms out there. By getting an immediate notification of all your reviews, you’ll be sure to see any that require a timely response. Customers are much more likely to feel heard and taken seriously if you respond to their concerns in a timely fashion. Both good and bad reviews should be responded to at regular intervals, and having notifications turned on will help you manage the process.
  2. Respond Kindly: While it may be tempting to fire off a rebuttal and defend your business, remember that many other people besides the original reviewer will see your response. It’s best to keep it professional, informative, and helpful where possible. You would not want potential customers to get a bad taste in their mouth for your business before they even give you a try, simply based on your response. Keep it courteous, apologize if necessary, try to make things right with the customer, and keep it short and sweet.
  3. Ask for More Information: While no one wants a bad review, it is a good chance for your business to learn and grow from the interaction. Invite the reviewer to send you an email with more details about their negative experience. This will give you the chance to open a dialog and hear their side of the story. It also shows you care about customers’ experiences and want the best for everyone.
  4. Make Things Right: If you or your team messed up, make things right. It’s okay to admit you made a mistake—your apology and peace offering will go a long way. It can change their opinion of your business and help keep them from telling their friends and family about their negative experience. It might also encourage them to update their review to a more positive rating. But more importantly, it’s just the right thing to do.
  5. Don’t Take It Too Personally: Despite your best-laid plans and intentions, some customers are never going to be happy. And you know what? That’s okay, too. Your business isn’t going to suit the needs of everyone, and you can’t please everyone. Find your audience and provide services and products that they do like. Know you won’t win them all, but do your best to cater to your tribe.
  6. Remove the Review: It is very difficult to contest a poor review and get it removed. If the review is fake or contains hate speech, you can flag a review and ask Google or Yelp to remove it, but they will only do so if there is a legitimate reason. If it is simply a bad review for a legitimate customer, it might not be worth your time or effort if the reviewer did indeed have a negative experience.
  7. Drown Them Out: The overall best plan of attack is to have plenty of good reviews that will drown out the occasional bad review here and there. Do good work and provide a good service that will ultimately encourage customers to leave good reviews.

Bad Online Review Response Examples

Sometimes it’s helpful to have an example to follow when responding to a bad online review. Use these examples next time you need help responding to negative feedback, but keep in mind that reviews should be personalized to the reviewee and the situation at hand:

Hi, Reviewer—We are incredibly sorry we didn’t meet your expectations. We take reviews very seriously, as we know they help our business grow and improve. Would you please consider sending our Director of Operations an email to with a bit more information about your visit? Most importantly, we want to make things right with you, but also we would love to use your experience as an opportunity to better train our staff. Thank you!

Thank you for your feedback, Reviewer. We would like to apologize for your recent experience and are sorry to hear you were less than satisfied with us. Our business prides ourselves on our [product/service] and the high-quality standards we maintain, and we would like to make things right. Would you please consider reaching out to our team at with more information about what occurred and how we might make it up to you? Yours sincerely, Name, Position

If your company has been receiving reviews online for some time, but you have neglected responding to them—start today! While it’s better to address a negative review right away, it’s not too late to address the problem now. It will show future guests and clients your commitment to their experience and will help clean up your reputation online. Start working toward positive reviews and pay attention to what people are saying about you online.  

Reviews matter and are an important part of any well-planned digital marketing strategy. If your business could use help collecting and managing your online reviews, Aspen Grove Marketing is here to help. We’ll show you how to integrate reviews into your marketing strategy and leverage them to effectively engage with your customers. We’re your local, Northern Colorado digital marketing agency and will help you make the most out of your reviews—good and bad!