Sticky Situation: Bad Online Reviews

These days, the keyboard is mightier than the sword—how do you respond when your spa gets cyber-slammed?

The Situation: Every once in a while, even an established and award-winning day spa gets slandered on a review site, as Scott Kerschbaumer, co-owner of ESSpa Kozmetika Organic Skin Care in Pittsburgh and ESSpa at the Carnegie Inn & Spa in State College, Pennsylvania, can attest. However, Kerschbaumer has an effective style of dealing with public criticism.

The Solution: "We respond to each negative review within the day," Kerschbaumer shares. "We do this because bad reviews stay online forever, so it's better to have each followed immediately by our response, to show clients and potential clients that we care about what they have to say and about making them happy. You have to be careful not to be defensive or insinuate the client is wrong, however. I usually start with, 'Thank you for taking the time to share their experience. I really appreciate your comments—good, bad, or indifferent—because they help me know what is going on at my spa. So, thank you for that.' Having a real person, especially the owner, directly deal with the situation—rather than send a generic email response—usually diffuses the situation immediately."

What would you have done? Please sound off below in the comment field. Have you had a similar experience? Got a sticky situation to share? Email your spa horror story to!


Anonymous's picture

I respond as quickly as

I respond as quickly as possible in a pleasant tone. You will convince the public with your presence by remaining professional and acknowledging the review as constructive criticism. I have also added pertinent details that the reviewer chose to leave out so the public has a full understanding of the situation. I can tell you that I have silenced my share of snarky reviewers by explaining what took place. Some of them abandon their Yelp profile altogether. I am teaching each one of these reviewers that they could have brought this to our attention before putting it on the Internet in front of the whole world. Sometimes the reviewer will get back to me privately through email. Some of them thank me for trying to rectify the situation. They claim they will do an update to their review. But they rarely do.