Your Small Business and Negative Comments

by Ken Mueller on December 16, 2013 · 4 comments

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There’s criticism, and then there’s constructive criticism.

Unfortunately, it’s often hard to tell the difference. Even criticism that is delivered in a less than constructive manner can be valid. But none of us likes criticism. None of us wants to be told that we’re doing a bad job. Yet we can still benefit from listening to that criticism.

I regularly follow the online and offline activities of quite a few local businesses. And over the past few months I’ve been paying particular attention to a newer business in town that has seen a rather mixed bag of reviews.

On the one hand, the business opened with great anticipation, and because of a unique line and selection of products, they have done fairly well. On the other hand, this business has been apparently marked by poor customer service, coupled with what appears to be a devil may care attitude from management. While the business is usually busy when I drive by, they seem to creating a growing number of detractors.

On Facebook, they initially responded harshly to those commenting negatively. Then they shut their page down, only to bring it back in a more sanitized version. Negative comments were deleted. Now, they’ve completely hidden the review section of their Facebook page, and have also removed the function that allows people to post on their page. The only way you can write on their page is to comment on their status updates, and I imagine they are probably moderating them.

Additionally, they don’t seem to have claimed their Yelp and other review listing accounts, which are also quite heavy on negative reviews. The owners of the business don’t really seem to care, and have swept best practices under the rug. Hiding reviews, deleting comments, and preventing customers from commenting can only go so far. Word of mouth works beyond the Internet, and eventually you’ll alienate enough people to keep them away.

When you have a lot of negative comments saying the same things and complaining about the same areas of service, then it’s time to listen. In this particular case, there are clearly two areas they need to work on, but they’d rather hide the problem.

Negative reviews can help. They aren’t fun, and they sure can sting. If you listen to them and take corrective action, they can be quite helpful.

A little humility and listening can go a long way. How about apologizing to the person writing the comment, fixing things, and inviting them back?

When people give you negative comments or reviews, there are several rules:

  • Don’t ignore them.
  • Don’t hide or delete them.
  • Don’t fight fire with fire.
  • Listen, respond, make corrections.

How do you deal with negative comments and reviews? Are you willing to listen and take corrective action when necessary?


 Your Small Business and Negative Comments
Long Island Marketing
Long Island Marketing

There is a lot to be said about replying to negative comments. If you delete negative comments or try to hide them it makes your business look like it doesn't care. Everyone that interacts with your business is important.


Ken, I'm a little surprised that negative reviews for this business have found their way to Yelp considering that site has a reputation of hiding or burying negative comments so people can't seem them. Nonetheless, your post should strike a chord with all of those who feel that ignoring or laying silent in the face of negativity will somehow make the problem go away. Negativity should be addressed immediately, with an open mind, and an approach to turn the negative into a positive in the wake of our shift to referral based marketing.

KenMueller moderator

@JohnMTrader What I've discovered is that Yelp hides both good and bad reviews. And there are a number of factors that determine which get filtered. Something I need to write about soon, I guess. 


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