Tips For Handling Negative Online Reviews

October 5, 2018

According to The Wall Street Journal, even the Great Wall of China, one of the most impressive wonders of the world is not immune to a bad online review. In fact, the landmark's average Google review is 4.2 stars. Keeping this in mind the next time your business receives a less than stellar online review helps keep it in perspective. Follwing the advice below will help you rebound from a negative review effectively.


Be open to learning from feedback - It's virtually impossible to please everyone, even if your business is amazing. There is likely to be a small but vocal minority of people who can find fault with even the best intentions. These are the folks likely to drop an unflattering review online. So instead of being defensive when you see negative comments, consider whether there is any validity in the criticism. If there is, take appropriate action to rectify it.

Follow up with any staff who are involved - If the online review mentions any specific staff members, get their side of the story. That way you'll have a clearer picture of the exact nature of the complaint and how to handle it internally and externally. You may even ask those team members involved if they have any ideas to help resolve the issues raised in the review.

Respond to the review with the customer in mind - Other than being belligerent (not recommended), the worst thing you can do is to ignore a negative online review. Customers (and potential customers) will think more highly of your business, even with a negative review, if you take the time to address it. When you do respond, put yourself in the customers' shoes. Affirm their feelings, whether you agree with them or not, and thank them for taking the time to share them with you. Then proceed with the rest of the tips noted here.

Take your conversation offline - If a review is negative, responding defensively and publicly is not a smart strategy because it will only escalate the situation. Instead, try to take the conversation offline by offering a direct email or phone number where you can be reached. This will allow any additional grievances to be shared privately, for you to collect more details, and for a more comprehensive response.

Turn negativity into opportunity - While you may not like a negative review, it may have a silver lining for your business after all. For example, it gives you an opportunity to learn more about what customers want. It can also help you identify weak areas in your operations so you can be proactive about heading off any future issues. And even if you made an error in the eyes of the customer, handling it professionally can win back their confidence and loyalty.


Any kind of negative review of your business - online or offline - can be very painful and difficult to deal with. The best strategy is to use the tips above to handle reviews objectively, resolve issues in a positive manner, and learn more about how your business can better serve customers in the future.

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