How Do I Delete Bad Online Reviews?

Your business received a scathing review on Yelp. Or Facebook Reviews. Or Angie’s List. It’s inaccurate, exaggerated or just a simple misunderstanding. Is it possible to delete the review?

In most cases, it’s not going to happen. (If you believe the review to be fraudulent or it concerns a product you don’t sell or a service you don’t provide, you can report it to most platforms. For instance, on Yelp, login to your business account and click the “Flag this review” button.)

For just plain negative reviews, it definitely stings, but you can’t delete them. So, you have a choice: complain about the unfairness of it all or engage with the unhappy customer to the best of your ability. We vote for the second option. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Reach out and try to resolve the problem

Most people are happy when others try to understand them. Whether you are a marketer at corporate headquarters or the manager of the local store, talking or emailing with customers should fill you with excitement, not dread. Approach the person as you would anyone in your store—you are there to serve and help.

Whether you respond privately through the reviews platform or publicly, do this:

  1. Apologize for the experience the customer received. You can always investigate their claims with your staff offline, but the reviewer’s feelings and feedback matter.
  2. Offer to address the issue with your staff. Tell the reviewer you will make sure the problem doesn’t happen again, if you can guarantee that.
  3. Use personal and friendly language that sounds natural.
  4. Avoid cutting and pasting past responses.
  5. Stay positive and avoid defensive language.
  6. Thank the reviewer for their comments.

   2. Thank your happy customers

This is the best part of the job. When a great review is posted (Connectivity customers receive text or email alerts to new reviews), thank the customer using normal language.

Not so great: Your review matters to us. Thank you for sharing your opinion.

Awesome: The three-cheese lasagna is amazing, we have to agree! We’re so glad you chose us for your holiday party. Come back anytime.

  1. Get ahead of the review
    It’s possible to ward off one or two-star reviews before they ever hit social media. Here’s what to do:
  • Be honest with yourself. If you know that your restrooms are dirty and missing toilet paper, fix that today. If you consistently hear that serving sizes are too small or the cheesecake is just “meh,” then take action to correct these issues. Same thing goes with surly or rude employees. For enterprise marketers, it’s important that you bring these issues to the team in charge of store operations. If you know about a problem, speak up.
  • Send customer surveys. Email your customer base with a short survey asking for feedback. When responses come in, thank the customers with a coupon or small gift. People like to be heard and your attention to their opinions may be the touch that repels a public flogging.
  • Go for loyalty. Forget the plastic key fob. Today’s loyalty programs are connected to debit and credit cards (once signed up, you never have to show a membership card again), location data, text messaging and more. It may be time to consider starting or bringing back a loyalty program. Rewarded customers are more likely to stay loyal and offer constructive feedback, not just flame-throwing reviews.

No one likes a negative review. But with a little effort and goodwill, you can leave a trail for future customers. Even if the unhappy customer is never satisfied, the fact that you tried will leave a legacy for as long as the Internet lasts.

Olga is Senior Manager in Marketing and Sales Operations for Connectivity.