How to Handle a Negative Review

We have to admit; it’s a little surprising when we hear of a business that still hasn’t joined the social media platform for fear of negative reviews. The fact of the matter is that “68% of customers trust reviews more when they see a mix of good and bad reviews.”

Many businesses hesitate with creating an online profile for fear of getting a negative review or snarky comment from a disgruntled customer or former employee. It’s not worth missing out on crucial marketing avenues because of “what if.” The truth is that not everyone is going to love you, and that’s ok! If you take pride in the product or service you offer, you will have more positive reviews sharing their appreciation for your business versus negative. People rarely leave negative reviews “just because.” Typically there is a reason behind the review. Perhaps they are disappointed at the fact that they may not use your product or service again because of their experience. They feel the need to express their concern in hopes of getting a positive action from you to encourage their repeat business. “Consumers expect brands to respond to reviews—and are disappointed. Fifty-three percent of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week. But 63% say that a business has never responded to their review.”

That being said, it’s still devastating when we see that dreaded 1-star review that could potentially affect your overall rating. The key is to react accordingly to help turn the negative into a positive. Let’s look at how to handle a negative review (if it happens).


Our first reaction is to remove it immediately. We try to find a way to delete it all together, but that’s not always an option. If a review is a lie formed from someone’s biased opinion, from a competitor, or a former employee; you do have the option to dispute or request to remove the review.  It would ultimately be up to the website’s review team to research the review’s content to determine if it is appropriate or not. If they feel it is not viable, they will grant permission to remove it. If they feel it is a legitimate review, they will leave it.

Platforms like Facebook, Yelp, and Google try to form viable accounts that searchers can trust as true resources for their needs. As consumers, we rely heavily on reviews from other consumers to determine if we want to move forward with a product or service. If we gave businesses the option to delete every review they didn’t like, we would only hear what they wanted us to hear. We need these reviews to get honest opinions and experiences from others so we can form our own. Seeing a negative review doesn’t immediately result in someone moving on. They will continue to read the rest of the reviews, look for responses to the negative one, and form their own decision based on the information in front of them.


If the negative review is here to stay, you need to respond professionally. Show you genuinely care about the experience described and that you want to rectify it to prove you offer a quality product or service. Hear what is being said and address each point. The most important thing to note is to try and keep “emotions” out of it. We understand the anger and hurt that you can feel when reading the negative comments about your businesses. However, letting our emotions get the best of us can result in a response that is unprofessional and not supportive of the positive image you are trying to portray.

If it’s a situation that you are familiar with, then compare the review to the facts of the incident and respond while remaining supportive of their feelings. Don’t play the “blame game” stay neutral because neither party is right or wrong.  If, for some reason, your business or employee’s actions were in the wrong, own up to it! Communicate that you are doing everything in your power to ensure it will not happen again. Closing out your response stay true to your business and the quality behind it. Be honest in the apology level you want to give. If the action is a discount or other offer to show your sincere apology then provide them an option to reach out to you personally to follow through.


Avoid the back and forth. It doesn’t often happen if handled correctly however, there are some cases. If someone is “fired-up” and “in the moment,” they may be inclined to not hear you out and continue to rant about what they felt they experienced. If this is the case, respond with a simple apology that they feel the way they do. Repeat the fact that you heard what they’ve said, and you want to clarify that you take pride in your product or service. Don’t play into the he said she said act. Take the higher road, be the bigger person. Keep your response professional and straight to the point. Other viewers will see that you have justly responded and offered your apologies. Don’t continue to respond if they continue to haunt you. Viewers will see that you are trying to back your business and you care about your customer service. From this, they will likely form their own opinion about the person leaving the negative review.


Don’t forget to respond to all reviews, good and bad. Responding to every day (positive) reviews backs the integrity of your business. This shows that you care about all of the feedback you receive, and appreciate the kind words people have to say. They took time out of their day to let others know how happy they are with what you provided, be grateful for that! Don’t just focus on the bad reviews. It will portray a negative image that you didn’t appreciate the positive comments that were shared.

Keep in mind that “there are more and more positive reviews. Reviews are increasingly shifting from being a place where consumers air their grievances to being a place to recommend businesses after a positive experience.”


We have to rely on the trustworthy reviews and information put in front of us by the search engines. Consumers have learned to weed through the good and bad to determine their decision on whether to move forward. We can’t avoid necessary and beneficial marketing tactics fearing a negative that might not happen. Always take a positive and professional approach and trust that others will see that.

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