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Receiving a negative reviews is a horrible experience. It cuts deep and feels like a stab in the heart. After all, you work every day to serve and help your clients or patients. When someone writes something mean about you or your practice or business it feels terrible.

Further, no reviews or bad reviews DO effect your sales and leads.

  • 92% of consumers will hesitate to buy a product if there are no reviews or bad reviews.
  • 94% of consumers say they won’t patronize a business because of negative reviews.
  • 75% of people trust a business after seeing a positive review.

Those percentages are pretty bad. But don’t get discouraged if you have some negative reviews. Realize that you are not alone. Yes, it is extremely frustrating. But receiving a bad review is certainly not unique to you. It is a problem for healthcare practices and other types of small businesses all over the country. The Internet is a wonderful playground for people with spite and bad intentions. People can say just about whatever they want without any restriction or consequences.

As the owner of a digital marketing agency focused on helping healthcare practices this is often a topic of conversation. “How do I handle a bad review?” and/or, “How do I get more positive reviews?” is a very common set of questions. In this article, we’ll talk about handling the negative ones (there is another article about how to get more good reviews).

How to handle a negative review

The first thing to do is step back, give yourself a breather and realize it’s not as bad as you think it is. Go do some work, get your mind off it. Then you can come back to it and handle it without all the emotions getting in the way.

Certainly, some negative reviews are because of a mishandled service or treatment. But oftentimes it is also a disgruntled past employee or simply someone who is spiteful and no matter how their service was handled, they want to critique a business and say how you could have done better.

So, what do you do? What are your options? There are many. And at Walker Kreative we’ve handled all types of versions of a bad review over the past several years.

The majority of reviews will be on Google or Facebook. There are other review sites as well, but most are handled in similar ways.

Here are the “best practices” for dealing with a negative online review:

  1. First, understand your goal – it is to get the negative review removed or the error repaired so the person who wrote it removes it or updates it saying you fixed the problem.
  1. Second, don’t respond or do anything while your angry or upset. Step away from it and go back to work or do something else until you can come back to it with less emotional reaction.
  1. If you know the person, and if possible, contact them off-line and see if you can get them back in or in some way fix the problem. With the issue fixed, you can ask if they wouldn’t mind updating their review. (Everyone realizes how important reviews are.)
  1. If you don’t know the person at all and have no evidence of them being a client, you can go to the review and ask Google or the other social platform to report the review as false and request it to be removed because it was harassment or a conflict or interest or other reason.
  1. The same above applies if you know the person was a past employee, a competitor, or something similar

Not all reviews, even if they are wrong, will be removed, but you can do your best and try.

  1. If you can’t reach the person off-line but you think they did receive service, you can thank the reviewer for reaching out to you. Don’t lash out. Even if you’re right, it won’t end in your favor. Your goal is to defuse the situation, not win an argument. Stay high ground.
  1. Tell them how you are improving policies and would like to have them back in to fix anything that may have occurred. Address legitimate concerns only. Issues that are within your control and are negative reflections on your business are worth addressing. You can waste a lot of time on people who will never be happy so don’t take up their direct criticisms or attempts to just make you look bad.
  1. At the end of the day, realize that people reading these bad reviews, and your responses to them, will be able to see how you tried to fix the situation. That’s the most important thing. If you are professional and appropriately answer, most people will see it. The spiteful and mean reviewer will also stand out as a negative person who is not worth listening to.

Additional things to think about:

Don’t ask a negative reviewer to remove their review. This can easily make things worse and they could add that you did that. You can ask them to update their review if the situation has been resolved.

  1. Before responding, make sure that you get all the facts straight. Know the situation inside and out and be prepared to offer up ideas to remedy a problem. Some people need to vent and let off steam, and you’re better off just taking it. Other times, if there’s a problem with your business worth taking to heart, thank the customer for bringing it to your attention.
  1. Again, after you’ve addressed a problem and the individual is satisfied, you can ask for an update to the review to reflect your efforts. They might update it or they might not. If they do, wonderful! If not, at least your business is on record as having replied to the reviewer.

Finally, and probably the MOST IMPORTANT target in this list is to continue to produce good quality service, treatments and products and work to get more and more positive reviews. When you have lots of great reviews and lots of raving fans then you are really thriving and nothing can bring you down, not even a really mean review from someone with a black heart.

Here’s to your growth and awesome online reputation.



CEO, Walker Kreative