How To Respond To Negative Online Reviews

How To Respond To Negative Online Reviews

Mar 10, 2019

Online reviews will make or break your business – period. When reviews and ratings are managed correctly, you will thrive. When managed poorly, your business can suffer. The pressure on business owners to understand how to respond to negative online reviews is immense, and it’s easy to be tempted to look the other way. Getting a bad review is a terrible feeling and we’ve all been there, but what if we told you there’s a way to get past it without damaging your brand reputation?

Research shows that consumers are becoming increasingly dependent on online reviews in determining where to spend their money:

“87% of people say that a business needs a rating of 3-5 stars before they will use them.” – Social Media Today

You Have The Power To Elevate Your Brand Reputation

When you start to see your negative reviews outweigh the positive, it may feel impossible to redeem yourself. However, with strategic planning in your responses and your public relations, it’s possible to turn dissatisfied customers into return customers, and a negative review into a potential positive representation of your business. But poor reviews aren’t all bad! Sometimes they can bring up significant underlying organizational issues that are negatively impacting your business – this provides an opportunity to capitalize on fixing a problem that was costing you customers. Let’s talk about the importance of responding to negative online reviews, and how to turn a bad situation into profitable online exposure:

How To Respond To Negative Online Reviews

Online reviews are the most public form of customer relationship management; this is your moment to show the world just how much you respect your customers. Three guiding values in responding to dissatisfied customers are to:

be tactful, thoughtful, and sincere. 

The most important point: you have to respond. Saying nothing still says something – and it is worse than the review itself. By not responding you are telling every person who looks up your business that you don’t care about your customer’s experiences. We have comprised a list of the 4 most important tips on how to respond to negative online reviews, start to finish, and how to be ready for the next time a poor rating pops up on your page.

The Response

Your response to a negative review should be carefully crafted; it should be apologetic, professional, empathetic, genuine, and non-confrontational. It should show initiative in addressing the issue and provide an explanation if necessary, but without making excuses. How do you portray all of these things in a 200 – 300 word message?

Important points to note:

  • Thank them for bringing up the issue
  • Apologize
  • Ask for another chance
  • Take initiative to fix the issue (in the form of compensation or by internally making a change)
  • Invite them to contact you offline
  • Do not state your business name in your response to avoid negative reviews being prioritized in search engines

Strive For More Positive Reviews

If up until now you have ignored bad reviews and it’s too late to resolve them, the best you can do is strive for more positive reviews to push down the negative ones. This can be a effective strategy; according to Bright Local the average customer only reads up to 10 reviews before they decide whether or not to trust a business. A few tips to start to grow the number of reviews on your page:

  • Choose one platform to encourage customers to rate your business on (refer to #1 on how to know which review sites are important)
  • Start responding not only to negative reviews but positive ones as well to increase engagement
  • Ask clients that you have established a relationship with for an official testimonial for your website to let them know that they are a valued customer

Ask For A New/Updated Review

If the customer ends up contacting you privately and it goes well, feel free to ask them to change or add to their review. This is a great opportunity to show the public a remedied situation, fix the review, and improve your ratings. Here is an example of how to privately approach this after successfully conversing with the customer off-line:

We are so pleased that this situation could be resolved. It would appreciated if you would consider adding to your review on [review site name + hyperlink to review] to reflect the outcome of the situation.

Only ask a customer to add to their review if they are happy after the issue has been resolved. If the customer is unsatisfied, asking them to add to their review could prompt them to write another negative comment.

Navigating the emerging world of online reviews can be tedious, but the effort is so worth the outcome of building a strong reputation and return customers. Once you have figured out the best way on how to respond to negative online reviews, your business will thrive!


Businesses with strong brand reputations are better equipped to withstand trials and tribulations than those without, giving them a cutting edge. 

Are you ready to elevate your business?