How to manage bad online reviews

by Daniel Steele

Getting a bad online review is what many of us dread. Once it's out there it is near impossible to remove too. But, and here comes the big but, customer complaints can actually have positive effects - if managed correctly. How you choose to deal with bad online reviews and other customer complaints say a lot about you as a business. Most customers will judge you more based on how you handle the complaint than the review itself. 

thumbs up and down

The first step when receiving a bad review - just after you're done hyperventilating for a bit -is to decide if it is something you can actually respond to. Is it a complete trolling or angry rant without any context or something that you can actually address? Any issues that are within your control, legitimate concerns or complaints, need to be addressed in a calm and professional manner.

First rule, do not respond emotionally. Take the time to cool off and clear your head before sitting down to write your response. 

and breath relax

Next, get your facts straight. Make sure you have as much information on the customer as possible, when they booked, how they booked, are they a return customer or a walk in? Try to recall as much as possible about all the interaction between your business and the customer, what have you talked about, what has been said, how was their experience etc. 

Now you're ready to sit down and start putting together your response.


Always start with thanking the person for bringing the issue or situation to your attention. Even if you think that they are completely wrong, or do not in fact at all want to thank them for their horrible review, it will show that you take complaints seriously and are willing to listen to your customers. 

Address legitimate concerns only. Make sure to show that you've understood the concern, take it seriously and, if possible, describe how you will resolve the issue and what you will do to ensure it will not happen again. 

Stay neutral and avoid sounding defensive. Keep it short, sweet and professional. 

like a boss

Wrap things up by leaving your name, phone number and email. If any further information or a response is required, encourage the person to continue the conversation offline or via email and keep the public conversation as short and clear as possible. If you have the person’s contact information already it could be good to reach out privately as well as publicly to try and keep as much of the communication between yourselves.  

Hopefully you will be able to reach a resolution to the issue, in that case it's beneficial to ask the person to change their review to reflect that. Be careful with asking people to remove their reviews completely as this can be seen as pushy and censoring.  

If you manage to turn a bad customer experience into a good one by managing it in the best way possible, you can actually end up having an even stronger advocate for your business in the end than if they’d had a good experience from the beginning.


Publicly responding to bad online reviews will also show other readers and potential customers that you truly care about customer satisfaction and can in the end help you gain more loyal customers.

Wonder if it's worth actively seeking online reviews when they can create so much hassle? Here's more on why online reviews can be your most powerful marketing tool.

Want to know more about how you can increase your bookings with our online booking and management system? Learn more here

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