Business Owner’s Guide to Dealing with Negative Reviews

If you’re a business owner, you’ve probably dealt with an unhappy customer. If not yet, A+ for you! But even the best of the best deal with negative word-of-mouth. Every situation is different, but any negative review has the possibility to tarnish your reputation. The good news is, if you prepare for the inevitable, you’ll get through it. We’ll show you how to handle negative reviews like the pros with our negative review crisis plan.


Don’t Fear the Review

A lot of businesses are wary of venturing onto Yelp, or even social media, in fear a negative comment. We’ve all seen the stories of social media blunders and backlash and thought—“Whew–glad that’s not us!”.  Don’t let this deter you from the true value of social media. Your brand can shine in the online space. You just have to approach it properly.


Why Reviews Matter

The bottom line is, reviews matter.

According to BrightLocal:

  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
  • 54% of people will visit the website after reading positive reviews

That’s why you have to have them as a part of your SEO strategy. Having a review function on your website, or being active on a reputable third-party website, creates a lot of opportunities to showcase how great your brand and products/services are. With all the effort you put into being visible online, having great reviews allows you to leverage the power of social proof to push your sales to new heights.


Dealing with Negative Reviews

You can’t keep everyone happy all the time. Sure, sometimes complaints can be unreasonable. Sometimes you can do all the right things and still end up with an unsatisfied customer. But, the old saying is a classic for a reason—“The customer is always right”.

The best way to deal with negative reviews is to address them head-on, in a professional and polite manner.


Don’t Do This

Although it may be your first instinct to get mad and argue your case, stop and think! Once on the internet, always on the internet. Don’t do anything that could tarnish your brand reputation forever.

So, let’s start with what not to say, shall we? Here some examples:

  • “This guy is crazy.”
  • “We don’t want your business anyway.”
  • “See ya.”
  • “[Insert expletive of choice] you.”

To Delete or Not to Delete?

As a general rule, we say no to deleting negative comments and reviews. Here’s why: Once it’s up, people have seen it. And more likely than not, they’ll notice you’ve taken it down without responding. That doesn’t look too great on your company. You might also anger the customer further—free speech is free speech after all.

Now, there are some situations where deleting a negative comment or review may be warranted:

  • Spam
  • Hateful or negative language
  • Comment is not relevant to post or page

Note that deleting a post isn’t easy. Review platforms aim to be objective so users can actually trust what they’re reading. If you believe your post should be deleted, you’ll most likely have to contact a website admin to get it down.


The 3-Step Approach to Negative Reviews

Do we agree that an aggressive response is a wrong way to go? Super.

If your business receives a negative review, here’s how you can handle the situation in three easy steps:

1. Respond Appropriately

Always respond to your reviews, whether they’re good or bad. Try to do so in a timely manner, at most 3 days after they leave it.  The goal of responding is to illustrate your customer service skills, so be sure to put them on display!


  • Thank you for your review. Your opinion matters to us and will be considered as we continue to improve our customer experience.

2. Take it Offline

Once you address the issue publicly, your next goal is to move the conversation into a private space. You can either message them directly or provide a phone number or email to have them contact you. This puts the ball in their court again.


  • Hi, John Doe. Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. We’ve messaged you directly about solving this.
  • Dear Sally Sue, we’re deeply sorry to hear about the inconvenience you experienced with us. Please email us at so we can look into your situation further.

3. End it

Your main goal is to squash the issue. Whether you were able to win your negative reviewer over or not, thank them for their comment and let them know you’ve heard their feedback loud and clear.

If possible, make up for the situation with a coupon or comp. If your response was good enough to ease your customer, going the extra mile to ensure their happiness will help ensure the customer isn’t lost for good.


  • Hi, Jane Doe. Thank you for bringing your situation to our attention. We’re happy to inform you that we’ve sorted out your issue. We’d like to extend this $25 store credit coupon for the inconvenience this may have caused you. Thanks for sticking with us!

Sometimes individuals update their reviews based on a business’s response. Or, if you’ve solved the issue with the customer, you can ask them to update their review. This is your chance to make up for any missteps.


Final Advice

We understand that a negative review can be a dark stain on your pristine brand reputation. But at the end of the day, time heals all things. Even negative online reviews.

If you happen to get a bad review, don’t take it too hard. So long as your company acts with integrity and follows the three-step approach to negative reviews, your good-will reputation will continue to grow. In the long-run, you can drown out negative reviews through a good review strategy.


Sumeet Mann
Sumeet Mann
Sumeet has been enthralled in all aspects of marketing since graduating with a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of California, Riverside, in 2013. Sumeet spearheads all content marketing efforts at ViM, developing targeted lead-generating content with integrated promotional campaigns. She is also actively involved in streamlining and executing social media strategies for our clients.

I live to learn, and creating is my passion. Whether it be “telling the story” for our clients through marketing campaigns or painting, crafting or cooking in my free time, I’m always exploring something new. On a day off, you’ll find me cuddled up to my dogs, researching new recipes to try or delving into the latest documentary on Netflix!

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