Knowing how to handle negative feedback about your business on an online review site, such as, is essential to your reputation management.

You work hard to maintain positive relationships with your customers and clients, and then the inevitable happens—there is a miscommunication, a generally surly client, or you make a mistake—and the offended party posts a nasty, negative Yelp (or other site) review raging against your business practices.

What to do?

First of all, here’s what you DON’T do:

  • Do not give in to the temptation to counter with fake reviews by friends and employees. It’s transparent and will end up hurting, rather than helping your reputation.
  • Do not email Yelp and demand that the review be taken down. Never gonna happen unless it’s clearly an over-the-top comment by a clearly delusional maniac, and even then it’s doubtful.

What you SHOULD do instead:

Respond quickly and professionally to the comment. Here is a good example:

negative online review and positive response

This real estate company turned a negative review into a positive impression.

The one-star comment was obviously written by someone who is not familiar with how the real estate industry works. He simply slammed this real estate company with a poor review and stomped off. I ran across this during a routine Yelp search, and what caught my eye was that this negative comment took top billing in the preview pane.


So I was curious. And what I found when I scrolled down to this negative review was that a company representative from Domicile Properties had handled this admirably. She responded professionally, and she covered all the bases. She subtly addresses Yelp’s visitors at large, while technically addressing the complainer—who doesn’t seem like someone who is easily reasoned with, anyway.

She explains clearly what happened to cause the misunderstanding and with a positive attitude, she succinctly erases every doubt that any reader would have that the reviewer was correct in his low regard for the company. She provides just enough information about what happened, reassures us that the matter has been successfully resolved, and offers clarification for anyone who has the same question as the reviewer. She is credible and professional, and we are left with the sense that this agent is someone we want to work with. She has turned a potentially harmful review into a positive outcome for the company.

There is only one thing that Domicile Properties could have and should have done better to respond to this situation, and that is to respond quickly. This comment sat for nearly two years without a company response. This is why you must monitor your business name online to protect your reputation. We’ll talk about setting up alerts for your name and your business name in part two of this article.

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