How to Minimize the Impact of Bad Reviews on your Business

Bad reviews can kill a young business, and the worst part - you can't prevent them 100% of the time. BUT - there's a lot you can do to help your business shine through! #badreviews #reviews #business

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Close your eyes and come with me on a journey… It’s Saturday at noon. You and your sig-other are brainstorming new restaurants for dinner tonight. After much deliberation, probably some constructive back-and-forth, and a few “I’m not feeling Mexican tonight’s” you settle on your final two options. Knowing that Saturday night is a sacred thing – and to waste one would be treasonous, at best – making the right selection is critical. If you haven’t done this already, what’s the first thing you’ll do to help aid your decision…? Let’s all say it together: “Check out the restaurant’s good and bad reviews!!” 


Thanks, all – I was thinking the same.

(Photo courtesy of Al Emmert)


I could use the same illustration with moving to a new town and looking for a new set of doctors, child care facilities, neighborhoods, dry cleaners, etc… With about 90% of customers reading online reviews and 88% admitting to trusting those reviews as much as a personal recommendation (source), it is so critical to have a plan for managing your customer reviews.


So, then, as a business owner, why would you not prioritize generating a ton of positive reviews?? Rhetorical. Don’t answer that one. We all know that in the modern economy your business’ online presence is of paramount importance. But it’s not always that easy to just will something to happen, especially when it’s not you in control of making it happen.


I’ve read that each positive review can be worth as much as $50-500 to your business. Meaning that if you were to go out and pay for an advertising campaign to send direct mail or to create some sweet graphics, for instance, having someone else write a positive review on your behalf would cost between the $50-500, as noted above.


What about a bad review and its impact on your business?


As this Inc. article puts it – considering that the average person on social media has 300 friends, if you sell a product for a measly $10, that negative review could cost $3,000. On top of that, if one of the 300 friends tells some of their friends… You can see how this could snowball. For our business, specifically, that price could far exceed $30,000.


When you’re talking about prospective new patients, the cost of some dental treatment and the fact that there is so much competition in our marketplace, just one negative review could torpedo all 2018 goals and aspirations. Here’s the scary news: if you own a business, the dissatisfied clients will definitely happen and as a by-product, so too will the negative reviews.


So what do we do? Just lye awake all night and wait for that rouge internet tough guy or gal to hit enter so that you can immediately hit your keys in response? Not quite.


Here are 7 ways to minimize the impact of bad reviews on your business:


1- Ask for positive reviews


From day 1 we prioritized asking patients who we knew had positive experiences to leave a review on our site. We straight-up asked them, offered the chance to win free electric toothbrushes and other prizes, and gave them T-shirts. On top of that, we offered to buy our staff lunch for every X reviews generated. Just recently, we’ve taken to automating a portion of this process. We’ve hired a marketing company that offers a review feature, and this has kicked positive review generation into high gear. Every time a patient visits our office, they will be asked via email or text if they had a positive experience afterward. Positive responses will be shared on our various sites while negative responses can be handled directly so that the client can have their concerns voiced, we can improve as a team, and hopefully, the review would only remain in-house. Obviously, the client controls their words so if they choose to escalate the process, there isn’t much to do that will stop them. With all of this in mind, we’ve been able to generate 43 5-star reviews in just under 7 months! I’ll take it.


2- Give good service


If you legitimately do your best to provide the best quality service or product, then you are inherently reducing the chance of ‘earning’ a negative review. So know your business and your service, take CE courses and give people the personalized touch so that you leave them thinking of how awesome you and your staff are. That sounds like a positive review to me.


3- Be nice people


If all else fails, just check your bad day in the parking lot. Once you set foot inside the business, you’re having a good day and nothing will get you down. Talk to your clients about their families, ask them about hobbies, and show them you actually care about them as people and you’ll be more likely to avoid those dreaded negative reviews. I’ve seen that people are more willing to give you the benefit of the doubt if they like you and consider your relationship ‘friendly’ rather than the typical owner-client interaction. Make friends, it pays.


4- Make sure the negative review isn’t all alone on your Google page


When we were first starting out, there wasn’t much I feared more than a lone 1-star review on our Google, Yelp, Facebook, or website. If you only have 3 reviews and one of them is a 1-star review, chances are that prospective clients will take it from Jay and move “On to the next one.” But, if the 1-star review is surrounded by 50 of the 5-star variety, that future client may be thinking, “A wise man told me don’t argue with fools…” (Also Jay).


5- Respond promptly, admit any mistakes, and discuss improvements


Hey – sometimes we make mistakes. And when that happens, identify it quickly, figure out what happened, and correct it moving forward. The worst thing to do is to just let a negative review hang there all alone. People would feel much more at ease if they knew you took action to correct your mistakes. Just don’t make it a habit…


6- Make it right


On those rare occasions that you do make a mistake, I would advise going out of your way to make it right with the client. Your gesture may go a long way in smoothing things over and who knows, you may grow a better relationship with that individual after exchanging more information about your services and their experience in your office.


7- Let it go


Sometimes there is no cure for an upset client, whether you made a mistake or not. Could be a bad day, the individual doesn’t like change, a bad year, or insert any randomly selected variable here that may be causing someone to have a negative experience at your office. We can try all of the methods above, but if those have no positive effect on the outcome, it’s time to move on to the next client to provide more focus and to make sure they have the best experience possible in your business.



It’s not enough just to have a plan to generate positive reviews. I truly believe that you need to think about every aspect of your client’s experience in your office. See their trip to your place through their eyes then take that information to make their time as enjoyable as possible. If you model your business with the client at the center of your philosophy, you’ll go a long way toward providing an excellent customer experience – which should pay dividends in positive reviews!



Thanks for reading!


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I’m glad you’re here. Thanks again and talk soon!


– Mike
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  1. You definitely have to take online reviews with a grain of salt. Typically you get bias as someone is get more likely to feel the need to leave a bad review than a good one. We have all seen those how’s my driving stickers. How many times have you or someone else called just to say the driver was driving well. But if that driver cut you off you will be more inclined to call.

    1. Xray – thanks so much for taking the time to leave a (review) 😉

      On its face, you’re not wrong (in my opinion). However, whether we like it or not, those reviews make a huge impression on potential clients (in our case: patients). So we’re left with a choice to either be passive, write it off as a “eh… can’t control their opinions and you need to take those reviews with a grain of salt.” and just let those reviews come in when someone has a poor experience (or a great one) – OR you can do what we’ve done and design your business model to basically create the experience that someone would want to tell all their friends about, and then ask those people to leave those comments on Google (or other review source).

      Marketing can come in many forms, but once those new clients hear about you, they’re going to validate your business. And they’ll most often do that by looking to see what others are saying about you online. As we’ve grown these last 2 years, I can’t tell you how many new patients of ours have come because of our reviews. I really don’t think there’s any more important (marketing) thing that we could do.

      My $0.02 – take the bull by the horns and control the narrative.

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