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Online reviews can make or break a business. But you already know that. The bigger question is: what are you going to do when you get a bad online review?

There are business owners who have applied best practices in responding to reviews. Check out some of our case studies to see who we’re talking about. They’re simply awesome at what they do. And then there are business owners who are – well, who are not that awesome, and whose responses to reviews have damaged (instead of healed) their business’ online reputation.

Today we check out some of these not-very-exemplary cases of how NOT to respond to reviews. Please don’t make the same mistakes that they did!

Don’t call a Yelper a b**** and don’t tell her to go f*** herself

Boners BBQ in Atlanta (yes, that’s the name of the restaurant) got a bad review from Yelper Stephanie S. The owners were not very happy about what she said. So they went on Facebook and said some unpleasant things to Stephanie. Just how unpleasant? See for yourself:

How NOT to Respond to Online Reviews (or How to Get People to Hate Your Business)

Oh my. That’s truly cringe-worthy. Needless to say, Boners BBQ received tons of bad publicity after posting this personal attack on Facebook. It also drove away future customers, who didn’t like the fact that management could be so rude to people who didn’t like their dining experience at Boners BBQ. (To be fair, the restaurant has since deleted the Facebook post and apologized to Stephanie, saying “Would like to apologize for any inappropriateness on our part…. Trying to stir up the pot, we lost our lid and spilled the beans.”)

Don’t have a Facebook meltdown

If you watch Kitchen Nightmares, then you might have heard of Amy’s Baking Company. It’s the first restaurant that celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay was unable to transform. (Read the details of the infamous episode here. Yes, it’s so infamous it has its own Wikipedia page.) Anyway, the owners of Amy’s Baking Company are also notorious for their harsh responses to online customer reviews. Shortly after the Kitchen Nightmares episode, the restaurant’s management team generated extra amounts of bad buzz after having a meltdown over Facebook. Read some of the things they posted (WARNING: strong language):

How NOT to Respond to Online Reviews (or How to Get People to Hate Your Business)

The lesson? Don’t have a Facebook meltdown – or any other kind of meltdown – whenever you receive negative feedback from customers. You’re just going to make yourself an easy target if you lose your cool.

And please: turn off CAPS LOCK.

Don’t pursue legal action as your first option

Fake reviews happen. (Here’s how to spot them.) If they happen to you, take the time and effort to report the review to the review site in question. Apparently, this wasn’t an option for the owner of a Detroit restaurant called 24grille. After getting an anonymous TripAdvisor review telling people to avoid the restaurant “unless you and your family actually enjoy sharing your evening with the local prostitutes,” the owner sued TripAdvisor for libel and negligence – and for “failure to investigate the allegations contained in a false user review.”

The lawsuit went nowhere. Why? Because there’s such a thing as the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which renders review aggregators like Yelp and TripAdvisor immune from being held liable for user reviews and comments. The anonymous review was eventually deleted, but the point is this: pursuing legal action as your first option will only leave you frustrated. It will also cost you a lot of money.

Let’s face it: you’re going to receive a bad online review one way or another. That’s just the way the world works. But you may even turn out to need these reviews. So – if and when this happens – make sure you don’t lose your cool and make the same mistakes these guys above did. And please don’t let it get ugly: the Internet is watching. Peace!

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.

Discussion

  1. Natalie

    What horrible people! Not only they didn’t preserve their dignity, which is always essential in any business, but they also turned out to be a joke. People can be rude, and unjust, and just mean and one simply has to respect that fact. Or, more precisely put – not underestimate that fact.

    @Migs – you said it well “you’re going to receive a bad online review one way or another”, The only difference is how you react.

    Reply
    • Helena

      It’s not O.K. when someone has a bad day and writes an evil review for a business that someone built for years. Not every review is true.

      Reply
  2. Susan Armand

    You can not lose your integrity no matter what. This is a business and in business there is no place for such outburst of emotions. There is thousands of ways you could handle this issue in a professional manner. and guess what- without bad publicity.

    Reply
  3. Roshaun Philips

    Wow. B & F words are bit too much. No mater she was a B, you shouldn’t write this online. A well crafted, eloquent response is much more effective in this case. You should learn more about sarcasm.

    Reply
  4. Roshaun Philips

    As for Amy’s Bakery, I didn’t watch the show about it but I suppose it’s a family business, made by hard-working people and I really believe that a lot of unsatisfied reviewers are lazy a..holes. However, this posts are the worst way for dealing with those customers. The owners look deranged, no wonder they were ruined afterwards.

    Reply
  5. Hollaback Will

    A bad response on bad review … make the war starts on. Don’t response immediately on bad review if you are in a bad mood. You only make things worse. Chill out, cool it. Maybe the customer was in a bad mood also, so wait. Then read again and try to provide polite and reasonable answer,if you must. Bad response can only harm to your business. Your task is to give pleasure to your customer and to make them go again, it is not easy but is helpful. Don’t fight with ugly words, someone just like to play dirty . You have stay in business.

    Reply

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