Don't let a bad review hurt your business

The “Don’ts” of Dealing with a Bad Review

Don't let a bad review hurt your businessThere’s nothing worse than putting all your effort into something and then getting heavily criticized for it. In these situations I would put “my temper” in the top 5 easiest things to lose, right next to “my keys”, and “my left sock”. However, when it comes to your business, and your brand, that’s the last thing you want to lose. So here’s some tips for things you want to avoid doing when you receive a negative review of your business.

  • Don’t email the reviewer

    At least not immediately. Give yourself time to soak in what the reviewer is saying about your business and take it as constructive criticism. Time and time again you read stories of reviewers receiving caustic emails from angry merchants, and this never ends well for the merchant. The best response is to reply to the review directly in the public forum, let everyone that reads the review see that you’re willing to work with customers that may have had a bad experience. Spin the negative review into a positive outcome.

  • Don’t blame the reviewer

    Sure it may seem odd for the customer to order a cheese pizza without cheese. However, blaming the customer will just give you a bad reputation. Instead focus on the main issue that the reviewer is complaining about, and see what you can do to fix it. Unfortunately though, sometimes there is nothing to fix, you just made a mistake. Which leads to my next point.

  • Don’t be afraid to admit you’re wrong

    Probably one of the hardest things to do. We’re all human and no one expects you to be perfect, mistakes happen. Admitting when you’ve been wrong or made a mistake is an admirable trait. Be willing to admit when you, or your business has made a mistake, and be sincere about it. Offer them a free cheese-less pizza as an apology, bring the customer back into your business and do your best to make sure they’ve had a positive experience.

  • Don’t do anything

    Now this last point doesn’t apply to every review, in fact probably doesn’t apply to most reviews, but I want to mention it anyway. It’s like what your mother said to you about the bully at school “just ignore him and he’ll leave you alone”. Sometimes the reviewer could just be a troll, if your site is doing well on review sites like Yelp, then a review out of left field is posted ripe with personal attacks, it’s likely this person is a troll. The best solution is to ignore them. Most people can tell when a reviewer is being a troll and will likely do the same.

I’ve listed out four “don’ts” but hopefully the message is clear. Losing your temper, especially in a public forum, could wreak havoc on your brand. So before you start putting words to paper, make sure you’re calm, read it twice before sending, and ask yourself “Is this the kind of message I would want to receive?”

IMG_9375_600x600Michael Baaske is the Digital Product Coordinator at PowerSites® who has received a bad review or two. PowerSites® is an all inclusive website-hosting, creation, and marketing solution that helps local businesses establish their brand, drive leads, and track success. PowerSites® is a leading resource in print, online and mobile for hyperlocal advertising, and brand management with our Business Directory Listings.

Small Business Tips: Don’t Get Caught with Wrong Information

This blog post was written by PowerSites staffer, Michael, who wanted to provide some insight on the Internet Data Problem.

Here is a common scenario. A customer comes into your business and asks for the Apple Strudel.

“Apple Strudel?” You say, “We don’t serve that, in fact, it hasn’t even been on the menu for a few years”

The customer looks annoyed, “I drove twenty minutes to get here, because I heard online you had the best apple strudel, what do you mean you don’t serve it?”

What’s going on here? Why is this happening? Why would your information be online, when you don’t even have time to browse the internet? How did it get there?

Welcome to the Internet Data Problem.

As the saying goes “No man is an island” or, updated for the information age, “No THING is an island”. To understand why your data online is wrong, it would help to understand what is meant by “the Internet Data Problem”.

Solving the Internet Data Problem? When it comes to data, there are three different types of websites: Sources, Aggregators, and Combination. Sources generate the data, and make it available for other websites to use, either freely, or by charge. Aggregators take data from various sources and try to compile it in a way that makes sense to the end user (think Google). Combination sites do both. To make these more complicated, sites may choose to make some, all, or none of its data available to other sites. And just for fun, the data can either be User-Generated Content, or Merchant-Generated Content.

An unfortunate side effect of having so much information freely available, with so many sources and aggregators, is that the information isn’t updated correctly. It may be wrong, or just plain out of date.

Is your head spinning yet? It’s okay, don’t panic. There are steps you can take, to not only fix this problem, but take advantage of it. With so much misinformation floating around, internet users tend to gravitate towards sources they can trust, and are skeptical of limited content.


Yelp, Google+ and Facebook–Find out if your small business is listed there, if it is, claim your listing. If it’s not there, create one. Most of these sites make it possible for the business owner to claim their listing on their websites through an easy verification process.


Go through each profile page and update all the information on there. Verify Email addresses, phone numbers, store locations, website addresses. While you’re there, add some more information about your business, and a few pictures. Include a brief description about your business, and remember to tell your company’s story, in an effort to better connect with your customers.

That’s it. There are many other social media sites out there, but these are the big ones. By updating these you can ensure your content is correct, also, by adding more information you add to the legitimacy of these postings. You have just taken your first step towards optimizing your information on the Internet.

Solving the Internet Data ProblemWhy is this important? In a recent webinar, reported that they had over 18 million business listings, and only 1.5 million of them were claimed by the business themselves. This issue is not unique to; in fact it’s an issue many websites face. By taking a few minutes to complete the above steps, you’re already ahead of the 15 million plus businesses out there that may have incorrect information on the web.

As world culture moves more and more towards web as their primary source of information, it becomes more important to ensure that your information on the web is correct. This not only makes it easy for your customer to find you, but also so they don’t end up driving 20 minutes for an apple strudel that doesn’t exist.

Foursquare and Yelp: The New SEO

Foursquare and Yelp: The New SEOSEO used to mean “keywords” and, well, that was about it. Eventually Google started to use more sophisticated formulas and algorithms to turn out results, and SEO started to depend more on a science of striking the right balance of keywords and phrases. Now, SEO is a much more intensive and all encompassing part of your marketing strategy. It’s simply not enough to have the right keywords anymore, now you need to have the right keywords in the right place, you need to improve your rank on sites like Yelp and Foursquare and get good reviews on Google Places. Keywords simply aren’t enough anymore.

If you have a small business, here are a few marketing tips to getting what you need out of sites like Foursquare and Yelp:

  • Engage With Your Reviewers

    The more you engage with your reviewers, the better you’re going to do on these sites because people like to know for certain that their voices are being heard by the people who need to hear them. Thank the positive reviewers and ask for an opportunity to make it up to the people who had a bad experience. Customer engagement does not occur in a void.

  • Link But Don’t Pressure

    Letting your customers know that you have a listing on Yelp and on Foursquare is a great idea. Begging them for a review at every opportunity is not only obnoxious, it’s discouraged. Take the time to link to these sites in your signature, mention your Yelp presence in your newsletter, but don’t beg your customers for reviews or they’ll think of it as an unwanted obligation.

  • Develop a Multimedia Presence

    Including multimedia in your corporate profile on these sites is a good way to kick start engagement by simply adding a little more color and life. In fact, you may simply consider this to be a part of completing your profile, making it feel more robust and substantial. People don’t always want to contribute a review if it’s going to be the sole piece of real content on the site, so building a real presence on these sites means that your customers don’t have to do that for you.

The more you use Foursquare and Yelp, the higher your SEO ranking is going to climb when it comes to Google results for your niche. SEOis about more than just using the right search terms in your content now. Today, search engine optimization means creating the kind of results that people actually want to find, not just the results that Google will give them. This means making use of sites like Foursquare and Yelp to get the word out about your business.

This is the trick to marketing in the new decade: your customer base is your new marketing team. It’s your job to give them a message that they can run with and a product or service that they can get behind.

The Secret to Yelp: Engagement, not Review Solicitation

There’s not much that a small business can do to annoy you like begging you for a review. This is why Yelp actually discourages review solicitation: it bugs people and may even lead to negative reviews.

You don’t want to put that pressure on your customers, not only because Yelp discourages it, but because it doesn’t really work. Rather than begging for reviews, what you want to do is create engagement, you want to let your customers know about your Yelp presence so that they have an opportunity to engage with you, to be heard and to participate.

Don't solicit yelp reviews, encourage engagement instead.When you solicit a review as if your customers owe it to you, you turn an opportunity to engage into an unwanted obligation. Here are a few marketing tips for getting Yelp reviews through engagement rather than solicitation:

Put the Aim on Engagement Itself

The reviews are a bonus. The engagement itself is what you’re really after. A customer who is engaged is more likely to recommend you to a friend, more likely to come again, and yes, more likely to give you a positive review on Yelp and similar sites and resources.

Follow Up

Depending on the size of your small business, you might not be able to do this with every single customer, but taking the initiative to make a follow up contact yourself can make a tremendous difference in engagement. Assuming that you bought a power drill from one store and a band saw from another to work on your garage, and you find yourself needing a new hammer a week later, would you be more likely to buy from the people who sent an email along to ask how your new powertool was working, or the people that didn’t? Waiting for the customer to take the first step to engagement doesn’t always work. Don’t pester your customers, but let them know that they’re appreciated and they may take the next step in engagement.

Link to Yelp, but Unobtrusively

The Best Yelp Reviews are not SolicitedA hundred requests for a Yelp review in your newsletter isn’t an unobtrusive link. Unobtrusive means “check us out on Yelp!” in your signature on message boards and in emails. It means a link on your homepage to your Yelp profile. There are plenty of ways to let people know about your presence on Yelp without shouting it in people’s faces. A good strategy is to link to your positive reviews through your Facebook and Twitter feeds so that your followers can check it out and see if they have anything to add.

Address the Negative Reviews

Arguing with negative reviews is bad publicity. Making up for whatever led to that bad review isn’t. Make use of negative reviews as an opportunity to get some good publicity by replacing a faulty product or adjusting your service based on the feedback you’re getting. A negative review can be a bigger boon than a positive review as it can help you to improve, and to publicly announce that you’re making things better. If you’re still fearful you won’t know how to address a negative review, check out our post on How to Deal With Bad Yelp Reviews to help you through the process.

In short: Let people know that you’re on Yelp, just don’t beat them over the head with it.

How To Deal With Bad Yelp Reviews


"Come in and try the worst meatball sandwich that one guy on Yelp ever had in his life" Photo by Christine Kirk

So you got a 1-star review on Yelp. Your first instinct might be to get this thing removed ASAP! Having negative reviews on Yelp can feel like someone protesting right outside your place of business. It’s hurtful because you know that the business you manage is better than that… It’s very important to take a step back and read the review. Actually read it, and try to understand the situation from the customer’s perspective.

Ask yourself, does the reviewer have a legitimate complaint? A review for “the worst meatball sandwich” reads very differently from a review for “the meatball sandwich was served cold and the bread was stale.” Figure out what was inadequate about the product or service you provided. Once you have figured out the root of the problem, then you can prepare to respond publicly.

Start off by thanking the customer for their business and feedback. Then go into specifics and mention the root of the problem and what changes you are going to make in order to prevent that from happening to another customer. Perhaps, you can make them an offer to try out your product again. Once you establish a relationship, you could regain the trust. Plus, this helps new customers see what you are willing to do to keep a customer, and for a small business, this could mean a potential new lifetime customer.

E.g. “Mr. Customer, thank you for taking the time to visit our restaurant and trying out our meatball sandwich. We are so sorry that the sandwich we served was not up to your standards. It’s very important to us that this never happens to another customer again. We have a manager on-site that is overseeing the sandwich making process and keeping track of all the important factors that make a good meatball sandwich. Please give us another chance, come by anytime for a free meatball sandwich on the house! Bring some friends… we promise not to disappoint you again.”

Responding publicly is the best way to show that you value customer feedback and that you recognize the need for improvement. You can also start with privately contacting the user to apologize and offer your side of the story. Especially if the review contains false information, explain the misunderstanding privately so the user doesn’t feel like you are calling them a liar. Attempt to resolve the misunderstanding and get a sense of whether or not the user is empathetic of the situation.

E.g. “Dear Mr. Customer. I’m the manager of Joe’s Deli. I wanted to take this opportunity to apologize for the misunderstanding that led to your 1-star review on our Yelp page. I was the on-site manager that day, and we were completely out of meatball sandwiches. Our deli is famous for its meatball sandwiches, but because of the football game, we sold out during lunch! We put up signs apologizing for the meatball shortage and offered a 50% off discount on all of our hot sandwiches. When we spoke, you were upset and I wanted to offer you a free meatball sandwich on your next visit. It was our fault for underestimating the large demand of the meatball sandwiches and we would definitely like to make sure that all our customers get to experience our famous meatball sandwiches. My offer still stands. Please give us another chance, come by anytime for a free meatball sandwich on the house! Bring some friends… we promise not to disappoint you again.”

If they are still upset, you may choose to publicly acknowledge their comment, apologize for the misunderstanding, and refer to your private message for a conflict resolution.

E.g. “Mr. Customer, we sincerely apologize for the misunderstanding. We simply ran out of meatball sandwiches that day. Unfortunately, we were unable to resolve this issue with you when we sent you a Private Message last week. We value your business and feedback, please let us know if we can further assist you.”

Whether it’s a meatball sandwich, a tax preparation service, or a bathroom remodel… your best way to deal with bad reviews on Yelp is to reach out and make a personal connection. By understanding your harshest critics, you can make improvements to provide better customer service and turn one-time customers into lifetime customers.

Best practices for small businesses using Yelp: Part 2

By Alisha Rechberg, Online Copywriter at PennySaverUSA

In part 1 of this series, I explained what is and why it’s important for businesses. If you have yet to read that piece, I recommend that you give it a read first – Explaining Yelp & what it means for your business.

When it comes to, many businesses prefer to leave it alone and let the users run rampant with posting reviews and photos. Either they don’t think they have time to monitor their page or they aren’t sure how to best handle users appropriately. However, this isn’t a wise route. Today, I’ll go over the best practices for businesses using and how following these can make your experience a success.

Buff up Your Profile.

  • Post your own photos, add detailed descriptions about the business and owner, update any incorrect information, and spread the good review karma by leaving positive and honest reviews of other businesses you like in the area. Empower Fitness Training in Santee, CA, does a wonderful job in owning its profile. Owner Kari has filled out the “About This Business” section with informative descriptions, made recommendations of other San Diego businesses, and added quality photos of the gym. This gym may be on the smaller side, but it packs a huge punch on and her efforts have paid off – 5 stars on!

    Empower Fitness in Santee has an Exceptional Profile

    Buff up your profile like Empower Fitness in Santee

Key Items to Remember About Your Profile:

  • Match your profile to your site and other social media profiles. You want to create a unified presence on the Internet by having the same tone, look, and feel.
  • Only post quality photos to Make sure your photos look professional, sharp, and show off the best features of your business.
  • When leaving reviews for other businesses, be honest and positive. Negative reviews may come back to hurt you and overly sales-like ones can make you appear untrustworthy to customers.
  • Be authentic when you fill out the information about your business. Don’t make BIG exaggerated claims because Yelpers will quickly shoot them down and make you look unprofessional.

Interact with Yelpers.

  • This might be the scariest part. What do you say to people who love your business and what do you say to those that don’t?

Rule of Thumb when Interacting with Yelpers:

  • For those that post kind reviews (4 to 5 stars): It’s best to privately message them. Thank them for their encouraging words and, if possible, offer a coupon for their next visit. Some companies also like to publicly reply to positive reviews, which is a nice touch. But remember a profile should feel community-owned and adding too many comments from the owner loses the authenticity. As an alternative to replying, you can give them virtual high-fives for their review by checking “useful, funny, or cool” on the bottom of the review.
  • For those that post negative reviews (1 to 2 stars), businesses should publicly reply to their comments with politeness and a promise to improve. Another recommendation is to privately message these reviewers and offer a discount for giving your business another try. Hot Fries in Santa Ana, CA, does a wonderful job in approaching negative reviews and offering a resolve.

    Hot Fries Approach to Answering Negative Reviews

    Hot Fries Does an Excellent Job in Answering Negative Reviews

Market Your Profile.

  • Unlike “if you build it, they will come,” Yelpers may never come to your profile organically. And the downside? Not having reviews on your Yelp page may work against you, especially if your competitors have wonderful reviews.

Free Ways to Market Your Profile:

  • Throw an event and post a free listing on’s Event Page. Your ad will be seen by more local Yelpers and if you throw a great event, you’ll get even more exposure. Events can be as simple as “free (product or service) for the first 500 customers.”
  • Tell customers about your profile. You can do this by: sending out a newsletter to your email list, letting customers know you’re on on your website, asking them to leave a review when they are in your store, or by using other social media sites to drive traffic to your profile.

Visit Your Profile Frequently.

  • Be aware of your brand reputation and what others are saying by checking your profile at least once a week. Yelp makes it easy by sending you an email alert every time someone posts a review. All you have to do is make sure your brand image is going in the direction you want it to go.

Like all review sites, words can hurt. But if you follow these helpful small business tips to navigate the community and you listen to what your customers recommend, you’re on your way to having a really successful business.