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How To Handle The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Of Online Reviews

Online reviews – love them or hate them, they are here to stay and can have a massive impact on your business. With 92% of consumers now reading reviews online before making a decision to purchase a product or service, they have never been as important as they are now.

The Statistics

A study of online buying trends showed that 86% people hesitated to purchase a product or service because they had read a negative review online. That’s nearly 9 out of 10 of your potential customers that could be swayed by a negative review.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, a whooping 68% say they trust a business more if they read a positive review.

With 63% of customers more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews, your business has to take them as they come – and then deal with them in the best manner possible. Positive or negative.

Monitoring and responding to reviews is clearly becoming more and more important in managing customer feedback and protecting or building brand reputation.

Managing reviews is quite the task, and you need good communication skills to excel. We’ve done a lot of research on this, and we’ve gathered the do’s and don’ts to handling the good, the bad, and the ugly of online reviews.

good online review2

The Good

When people think of managing online reviews they normally jump straight to the negatives.

But as a matter of fact, 68% of Yelp reviews are actually highly rated at 4 or 5 stars, so in ignoring the positives you’re missing the opportunity to build better relationships with that 68%.

Responding to reviews, good and bad, shows to your customer that your business cares about what they have to say. So not only are you nurturing your current customers but you are attracting new customers with your engaged responses and willingness to learn.

You can really boost and build your brand reputation through responding to positive online reviews, and by handling the negative ones in a confident and friendly manner.

How To Handle Good Reviews

If you are short on time, prioritise the customers that have clearly spent time on writing a review, you should browse through them and work through them in that manner.

Positive reviews are a great opportunity to keep the conversation going in a public way, so if you can, reply to their review publicly so others can see. If you have time, a private message would go a long way to making your customer feel cared about too.

Tips for your response


  • Create a personal connection by using their name
  • Thank them for taking the time to share their thoughts and using your business in the first place
  • Reflect on the details they shared so they know you read it
  • Offer them something of value – even if it’s just advice
  • Thank them again and welcome them back


Check out these extremely well handled responses for some inspiration: 8 Amazing Examples of Business Owners Responding to Review

the bad online review 2

The Bad

Bad reviews might make you want to cry, or maybe even throw whatever device you’re reading them on at the wall. No matter what, it is never nice to receive a negative review, but try not to see it as all bad. There is a chance to benefit your business from a negative review, as long as you handle the response well.

As mentioned, responding to any review shows that you care about your customer’s experience, and in the situation of bad reviews, that you are willing to own up to the mistake and try to fix it. Also, as hard as it might be to swallow, it might actually highlight an issue that does need addressing that you may have overlooked.

So look for that silver lining and see it as critical and useful feedback to make your business even better.

How To Handle The Bad Reviews

First things first, do not respond with a hot head. That is a one way ticket to a viral disaster with your business reputation likely being mob dragged through the mud. Take some time away to cool off before you respond, or hand it over to someone with a cooler head than you.

Secondly, what is the best way to respond? Can you make it private or does it need to be public? If you can, do both. First, send a private message and then once it is resolved post a public message so that other potential customers can see how well it was handled.

Thirdly, do your research of the issue at hand before you make any form of reply. If necessary speak to your staff, check emails or whatever else you need to do to get a full overview of what happened. If you do not know the incident they are referring to in the case because they didn’t provide enough information, you will have to ask them to contact you to discuss it further.

Fourthly, if they have provided you enough information, try and see it from the customer’s point of view. It might be a simple matter of miscommunication so you have to look at it from their side, even if you don’t agree with it.

Tips for your response


  • Create a personal connection by using their name as long as it is still professional and courteous, otherwise use titles
  • Thank them for taking the time to share their thoughts and using your business in the first place
  • Apologise for the fact their experience wasn’t satisfactory
  • Reflect on the details they shared so they know you read it
  • Tell them what you will do to fix it
  • Offer them some kind of compensation
  • Thank them again and invite them to return


If a customer has raised some serious issues, you might need to think more carefully about your offer of compensation and their invitation of return as that might make matters worse.

Likewise, if you do not believe your business is at fault you may wish to respond differently. As long as you remain polite and professional at all times you should avoid any further damage to the situation, and if you can clarify where the mistake is that wasn’t of your doing you may reassure other potential customers that this review does not reflect your normal business.

Sometimes it is okay to fight back and protect your brand reputation if it is not true and you know you can handle it well.

Try to respond as quickly as possible, 52% of customers expect to hear back from brands within 7 days of writing an online review, particularly if it is negative.

Here are some examples of how you can handle negative reviews: Respond to Negative Reviews Like These Business Owners

The Ugly

These are the reviews that are often completely false and/or out to incite anger from your business in the sole purpose of trying to damage your business reputation.

Who would do this? Hopefully you won’t have to deal with it but it may be competitors, customers that were in the wrong (e.g asked to leave for being aggressive), or what the internet just knows as ‘online trolls’ doing it for the fun.

On the most part people can see through these reviews as unbiased, as they are often aggressive, unintelligible and irrelevant personal attacks. It is therefore advised to simply ignore them. But if you want them removed the best option is to flag them to the platform that the review was posted and hope they get removed, however this isn’t always easily done, but if they break the site rules (e.g profanity, threats etc) they might be quick to remove it.

As a business owner you might have a lot of things on your plate, but dedicating some time to your online reputation can vastly improve your opinion from both current customers and potential new customers. You can show that you care and value your customers opinions, that you are willing to reflect and react on feedback and that you are proud to stand behind your business and make it better for your customers.

With online reviews having such a huge impact on your future customers, you need to put in place a system for online reputation management. If you would like to talk to our team on setting up a digital strategy that includes reputation management and review generation, call us on 0141 343 8470 or contact us here.

We can also boost your campaigns to see you soar to the top of the ranks and boost your brand awareness to keep you ahead of the competition.

Head of Digital

Ross manages our digital output across the design, development and marketing teams. Experienced in a number of project management methodologies, Ross brings supportive and adaptive structure to everything we do.

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