How to Handle Negative Reviews

How to handle Negative reviews

Nobody likes to receive bad reviews but you only need to look at review sites such as Tripadvisor and Yelp, to see that even the most iconic five star establishments are not immune to reviewer’s wrath.

That’s the problem with reviews; they’re completely subjective and are dependent upon so many factors outside our control, for example people’s previous experiences of a product or service with other brands, people’s expectations or even if they’re just having a bad day.  But there’s no such thing as a bad review, so see it as an opportunity to demonstrate your excellent levels of customer care, and also, where prudent, take actions to make positive changes within your company to benefit other customers going forwards.

Certainly there’s a multitude of things that can be done to limit the occurrence of negative comments and reviews, but when they do arise the way you deal with them will determine how successful the outcome is.

  1. Deal with it head on – the review isn’t going to go away and the longer it festers the more people will see it. So, no matter how menial you find the complaint, investigate its legitimacy then address it with a reply and nip it in the bud before it escalates. You don’t want unhappy customers taking their reviews to other audiences on other sites.
  2. Speed is paramount – the speed at which you reply is crucial as it is a direct reflection on how important your business views its customer service. With only an estimated 25% of consumers leaving reviews it’s likely they have strong feelings one way or the other to prompt their comment so the quicker you can put out a fire the better. Aim to respond within 24 hours. This will mean routine monitoring of review sites; however it is time well spent and is a good business decision.
  3. Remain professional – it’s all too easy to take negative comments and criticism to heart. Remain calm, keep all responses professional and don’t make excuses or deflect blame.  Try to be empathetic and take time to understand the reviewer’s point of view. Also it’s important to consider who the response will come from.  A response from a Director will hold more weight as you will be seen to be taking the comments seriously.
  4. Take the conversation off line – although you should make an online response for the world to see, it’s best to take things off line as quickly as possible to avoid an argument ensuing. Acknowledge their complaint then give them the details of how they can reach you so that you can try and rectify the problem directly with them. Once the problem has been rectified, provide an update online stating how the matter has been dealt with.  This will give confidence to potential customers.
  5. Don’t ‘copy and paste’ a response – how to really annoy a reviewer and a sure-fire way to lose their business for good.  I’m stunned at the number of companies that think this is acceptable.  It’s just plain lazy.  If someone has take the time to write a review the least you can do is take the time to provide a well thought, original response that deals with their individual issues and disputes.


At the end of the day, you’re never going to make everyone happy all of the time, however, your response in such a public forum will affect the purchasing decisions of many potential customers.  You should encourage your customers to leave reviews and if you’re doing things right the good ones will far outweigh the bad.