Sticks and Stones

What to do—and not do—about bad reviews

Written by Melissa Edwards

Salt may be a top five Vancouver restaurant on Yelp, but it gets its share of one-star pans. “Dinehere.ca hates Salt and Yelp loves it,” says owner Seán Heather, referring to two popular review sites. To him, the disparity proves that his restaurant, which specializes in small, tasting portions of cheeses and charcuterie, is serving its chosen market. “The Dinehere customer is looking for a hot meal, and we can’t provide that,” he says. “The people I meet that use Yelp seem to be the kind of customer we want.”

While Heather never responds to review-site comments, Adel Majd at 416-So-Clean, a Toronto carpet-cleaning service, takes the opposite approach. “We always respond to every review,” he says. A positive comment earns a thanks; when it’s negative, “we try to get to the bottom of it.” One such conversation prompted Majd to improve how the company communicates about arrival times.

The key, says consultant and blogger Phil Rozek, is to avoid responding in anger, as nothing will draw attention to a complaint like an online flame war. “You can flag suspicious posts, but there’s not much you can do unless it’s potentially libellous,” says Rozek. He advises embracing less-than-glowing reviews as proof for the ranking “robots” that your reviewers really exist.

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com