How to deal with negative reviews online

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How to deal with negative reviews online

You should NEVER incentivize people to remove their negative reviews online because this could incentivize people to make complaints. (Glad we got that out of the way. Let’s proceed.)

No matter the context, negative coverage about your business should be limited. However, catching criticism online might seem unavoidable for any businesses. Google reviews are the most important public figure to those who might be interested in your product. But sometimes they are not very thorough and vary in temperament. Nonetheless, they help customers make purchasing decisions.

Receiving negative feedback online is the same as in life; it’s painful at first, but if constructive can help us improve. The first step to dealing with a bad review is to care, and chances are that if you’re reading this, you already do. 

The two types of negative reviews

1. The spiteful

These are the grumpy reviews that are surprisingly customary in business. These are good indicators of your mistakes.

These reviews can be summed up as:

  • I went by the store, but it was closed (at 1am probably)
  • Staff was rude (bad day)

2. The memorable

This reviewer often takes the form of a constructive critic, they are good indicators of your shortcomings. The main difference between this and the other is that more care is put into the review. People are rational and often very considerate of business needs. For these types of reviews, seek reconciliation, the reviewer will be more understanding. 

3 steps on how to deal with negative reviews online

Step 1: Care

React professionally and be polite

Responding to the situation is crucial, but don’t rush into your response. It’s easy to take things personally even after you’ve had time to review and evaluate the comment. 

Research their complaint and take the time to really see things from the reviewer’s perspective.  Ask yourself:

  • What exactly is the reviewer’s concern? What’s the severity of it?
  • Is it a mild inconvenience or a major risk?
  • Is there anyway we can solve their concern?
  • How can we compensate them for the inconvenience?  

Show the reviewer that their opinion matters to you, after you have publicly addressed their concerns, take the issue off-line by providing an email address so together you can find a solution.

Having a conversation with them about these things shows that you care about the well-being of your customers, and respectfully asking them to remove the review, is far more effective once you’ve acknowledged their original complaint.

Step 2: Evaluate 

There is good in a bad review

A study by Harvard Business found that 95% of people see a flawless review page as being fabricated by the company, and understand a few negative reviews. 

If the bad review will not hurt your business, leave it. Negative reviews can benefit your business, often other customers will reply if the complaint is unreasonable and defend your services. If you only have glorious reviews, it will give the customers the impression that they are all manufactured. Having a few negative reviews can contribute to building trust, instead of diminishing it. 

Step 3: Adapt

Make it apparent

If you notice a specific review page that is giving you grief, consider campaigning for it. Encourage more and better reviews to dilute the others, and remind your customers that you have an open door communication policy, and that their needs matter to you.

It’s important, beyond reputation, to have the ability to adapt to negative reviews. What will double your return is the ability to show that you listen to other people’s challenges surrounding your business. Anything that is perceived to be broken (long wait times, for example) can be perceived as fixed (by adding more employees, or quality assurance). 


When monitoring reviews, think about your own experience as a customer. A few negative reviews are often summed up as just a bad experience because they can often be vague and they can easily be dismissed if there are other reviews to contradict them. 

If anything, these review sites should be used as a tool to help you monitor your business to better understand the needs of your customers. 

So where are you stuck?

Some business owners might say that only certain coverage is worth reacting to, but we challenge that belief. More eyes and ears on the internet will help keep you in the consumer’s mind. Check out our services to learn how we can help you listen and adapt to your clients’ needs.