It’s no secret how important online reviews are to businesses – 88% of customers rely on them to decide whether or not to do business with a local company. But many business owners are so laser-focused on getting reviews that they don’t consider responding to reviews.
It’s inevitable – if you’re actively soliciting reviews, you’re going to get a bad review. It might be unfair, full of lies or a long, unintelligible rant. When nasty reviews trickle in, business owners have two options:
- Respond politely and offer to fix the situation offline
- Like a mother bear protecting her cub, leap into the fray with claws out and teeth bared
Some business owners choose route 2…and the results are disastrous for their business. Here’s a roundup of some of the worst responses to real reviews. Warning: some naughty language below. Don’t try this at home.
Amy’s Baking Company vs. The Entire Internet
In possibly the most infamous case of “how to ruin your business overnight,” Amy’s Baking Company’s legacy started with a disastrous appearance on the show Kitchen Nightmares. After the episode generated attention on social media, the owners took to Facebook to fight back.
The saga ended with the owners hastily saying that their social media accounts were hacked. Their efforts to win back fans didn’t stick, and Amy’s Baking Company is now closed.
The Radiator Doctor vs. INTERNET TOUGH GUY
As a general rule, don’t insult your reviewers. When the owner of the Radiator Doctor took offense to a one-star review, he went straight for the jugular with a hilarious tirade.
Turns out ranting against customers is bad for business – Radiator Doctor closed a few years later.
Layfield & Barrett vs. Former Employees
Former employees of Layfield & Barrett found themselves at the end of a lawsuit when their former boss subpoenaed review site Glassdoor.com to have negative reviews removed. Among the offenders were “Working Here is Psychological Torture,” “For the love of God, do NOT work here” and “Anyone who gives this place a full rating has literally just started working there.“
When Layfield was reached out for a comment from the website Above The Law, his dismissal of the reviews added fuel to the fire:
Unfortunately, most of those people are unwilling to recognize their shortcomings and they turn to anonymous blogs to spit their venom. The reality is that they should be upset with their parents for raising lazy and incompetent young adults, but they choose to spew false information on blogs such as Glassdoor. The majority of these posts contain blatantly false information. We are going to obtain the identities of these cowards and bring them to justice.
Dylan Saccoccio vs. Reviewer
Authors are no strangers to online criticism, but when a reviewer left a one-star review on Dylan Saccoccio’s book, the author leapt into the comments section to defend his work. In the process, he garnered the wrath of fellow reviewers who didn’t appreciate his attempts to shut down criticism.
The exchange went on for several pages, culminating in a conspiracy about the New York Times and ending with 1.5 star average rating for his book.
How You SHOULD Respond to Negative Reviews
As tempting as it is to want to respond back in kind to a nasty review, the high road is the best route to avoid internet infamy. Even if the reviewer is spouting off incorrect information, you should respond the same:
- Thank them for the review, and apologize for their experience.
- Offer to take it offline to help them.
It’s up to the reviewer if they want to take you up on your offer, but this puts the ball back in their court. It also shows potential customers that you don’t ignore criticism and actively try to make things right. However, if the review contains defamatory or libelous comments, you can report it to Google or Facebook as inappropriate to have it removed. Note that they will only take action in extreme cases: a review saying you charged them additional fees even if you didn’t likely won’t be removed, but a review saying you’re a thief and a criminal likely will.
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