Deleting negative online reviews? Find a better way.

Deleting negative online reviews? Find a better way.


Find a better way for handling negative online reviewsThe number one objection we hear from people about opening social media accounts is “what if someone posts negative online reviews?”. At this point, your customers, clients, supporters or patients are online, and they are talking about you. The real question is “are you listening?”.

Receiving that first bad review stings, I won’t lie to you. Try as you may, neither you and I will please all our customers all the time. We are human, and we just plain mess it up sometimes. If we get lucky, we have a chance to fix it. 

Bad Reviews on Yelp, Google or other sites

I met with a business owner not long ago, and she mentioned a patient who wrote a bad review about their office a couple of years ago. What do you do, she asked. Most sites will allow you to leave a response. I highly encourage businesses to thank good reviews and offer solutions or apologies for bad ones. (If an actual “I’m sorry” could leave you liable in a legal case, you might work with your attorney to draft an apology that doesn’t completely skirt the issue but won’t leave you in trouble later.) Sometimes saying something as simple as “We’re really sorry you had a bad experience. We strive to provide excellent customer service but sometimes we miss the mark. We’d like to learn from our mistakes. Could you call ________ at ________?”

If you are a small facility, you likely know by the name on the review or the details of the review who left it. Go a step further and send that person a gift. If they are a patient or regular customer, you should have enough contact information to do this. Imagine the buzz, when they post a picture of the flowers you sent or the tickets for a local pro or semi-pro ballgame you sent. Not only will they know you are serious about making up, their friends and family will know it, too.

Negative comments on social media

Never, just never, get into an argument on social media. We have run into occasions where updates or pictures posted on networking sites were taken out of context. Sometimes a simple explanation clears up the problem. If you find yourself going back and forth in a heated conversation with a person on a networking site, ask them to contact you through email or by phone to continue the conversation. Take it off-line as quickly as possible. Always keep your tone upbeat and turn any negative comment around as quickly as possible. For one client, we chose to delete an entire post because of one very off-the-wall comment. The post hadn’t had many views, and we really had no response to this person’s comment. The comment made no sense, but it did leave a bad taste in your mouth. In another instance, we cleared up some questions about a status update and used the questions to point the need for giving for our capital campaign. I don’t always recommend that, but their question lead directly to the reason we were raising money.

Google alerts

Your company name or brand names may come up in conversations throughout the web, in places you don’t even think to check. We recommend setting up a Google alert for the most important words in your business, most likely your company name, the names of key employees and brand names associated with your company. Google will send you an email whenever someone mentions you online. By setting up an alert, we saw when a disgruntled employee from one of our clients posted a trade secret to a message board. We followed the procedures for having the information removed, and the client’s attorney took it from there.

Your employees and staff

Create a policy for handling the negative or sticky issues related to your business. Handling negative online reviews, especially can be difficult. Have one person who responds to these issues and make sure they are briefed and ready to respond quickly. Create a list of words, topics and language you and your employees should not use on social media in relation to your company or industry. Create a list of positive language you encourage them to use instead. Make sure everyone with your company has a copy of both lists.

You can’t alway turn a bad situation into a good one. Some relationships and customers you just have to let go, but if you can let them go without hurting your reputation, you’re a step ahead of your competition.


Need a little helping getting your social accounts started? Schedule a 30 minute consultation and bring all your questions to us.