how to ask for an updated review (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/nanpalmero/)

how to ask for an updated review (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/nanpalmero/)

Editor’s note: This article is part of a featured series that tackles the basics of reputation management. In our Reputation Management 101 series, you’ll learn about basic (but important) concepts, tasks, and tips for reputation management. Each post will include actionable advice and realistic ideas that you can use — today — to improve your online reputation. Join us as we explore reputation management resources that everyone should know!

We’ve all been there: a bad review. Sometimes they’re earned, but sometimes, they can feel unfair. And if there’s anything you can improve upon in the review, it’s a good business practice to reach out to the reviewer and ask for another chance — and a new, updated review.

There is, of course, a right way to go about doing this — and a wrong way. A new restaurant owner provides the perfect example of what not to do on Yelp when you’re asking a reviewer to update their entry.

You can read the entire conversation on Consumerist.com, but we’ll share the highlights here:

The owner, Joe, who had just purchased a restaurant, wanted to encourage a reviewer to remove a negative review he’d left. Joe did not offer any updates on the changes made at the restaurant, and it seems he assumes that a restaurant under new ownership deserves a clean slate — but that’s not the case.

Hey Mark my name is Joe I own [redacted] I just bought it in April 2014 trying to clean up my yelp any chance you could take your post down
Thank You joe

Mark, the reviewer, didn’t return to the restaurant, and he left the review as is. The owner contacted him again, a year later — and while his original request wasn’t great, his follow up is where he really made some major mistakes. He sent 13 different messages, many of them attacking the reviewer or questioning his legitimacy. A few of the worst offenders:

I acutally don’t believe you even stepped foot in the [redacted] I think you were just angry that someone cut you off and flipped you off. Apparently you must be bored seeing how many reviews you have written
continued success with your yelping!!

Just fess up you know it’s true

Oh and why no photo ??? Hmmmmmmm!

If you saw my tax returns you would know you will never see me on restaurant impossible !!

The new owner clearly didn’t handle this well. The review still stands, and now the reviewer is irritated with him — enough to share his experience with the owner publicly online.

Obviously, it’s a bad idea to take this approach. Hounding customers to change their reviews with no offer of apology, updates on service, or invitation to try again is simply no way to ask for a better review. Here’s how to ask for an updated review the right way:

  • Avoid asking while you’re angry: Updated reviews require diplomacy and a level head, not anger. It’s normal to be upset about a bad review, but it’s best to wait until you’re feeling better about it before you reach out to the customer. We all remember how things turned out for Amy’s Baking Company.
  • But don’t wait too long: While you shouldn’t reach out in anger, it is still important to make sure you get in contact with the reviewer soon. Wait too long, and they simply won’t care about updating — they’ve already moved on.
  • Avoid threats: It’s a good idea to avoid contacting customers while angry, but an even better idea to stay clear of issuing threats to those who have left a review.
  • Apologize and say thank you: Typically, customers will leave a negative review because they feel wronged or disappointed in some way. Whether you agree with them or not, apologize and show your sympathy for their disappointment. And of course, always thank them for their feedback, even if it’s not positive — they’ve taken the time to let you know how they feel, and that is useful and valuable.
  • Genuinely ask how you can do better: Show the customer you want to make things right. Tell them directly that you value their opinion and ask them to tell you how they’d like to you to handle things better in the future. This is valuable feedback for improving your business!
  • Implement improvements: Take action on what they’re sharing with you and work to make your operations better and more customer friendly.
  • Encourage the customer to give you another chance: Explain to the customer that you’ve improved and you want them to see how much better you can be. You may want to offer them an incentive, such as a discount or a free item that will entice them to come back and give you another shot to impress them. You should also let them know you’re seeking an updated review, as it’s best to be upfront and honest.
  • Ask for an updated review: If you’re confident you’ve done better, ask them directly for an update. Encourage them to share any further concerns or compliments they have with you, and let them know that you take their opinion seriously — and you’d like others to see what they think as well, now that you’ve had a chance to improve.
  • Remember to say thanks: It’s just common courtesy. Whether the customer has returned and updated their review or not, always remember to do the polite thing and thank them for their time and attention. Leaving a review and offering feedback is helpful, even if you’re not able to have it updated more favorably.