How to respond to negative reviews online

Blogs 7 May 2020

You can't please all of the people all of the time. Learn how to deal with negative reviews in a positive way with our helpful guide.

No matter what kind of business you run - and no matter how well you run it – there is a strong chance that you will receive a bad review at some point. Such criticism can feel like a punch in the stomach. Every business will experience negative reviews at some point in their life, but it’s how you respond that matters.

Although social media and review sites such as Google Reviews, Trustpilot, Glassdoor, Checkatrade and TripAdvisor are a great way to spread positive messages about your business, they also provide the perfect platform for people to publicly air their grievances.

Responding poorly to a negative review can sometimes do more damage than the review itself. This is a time where your customer services skills will be put to the test, and customers take note of companies who excel in diffusing situations and turn negatives into positives. With the right response, you may even win over the person who wrote the review!

Here are some important tips for dealing with general complaints:

  • Have a cup of tea.  Above all else, resist the temptation to react immediately, in the heat of the moment. Stop. Breathe. Calm down and collect your thoughts.
  • Visit your pages every day.  The worst type of online complaint or review is one that isn’t responded to within 24 hours because this hints at slow processes and poor customer service. It can even motivate someone to increase their campaign of criticism. It is worth visiting your social networks daily to check for any negative reviews or complaints. Remember to share the good ones.
  • Say when the issue is resolved. Respond to a public complaint in a public way. Apologise for any shortcomings relating to your product or service, then set out what you have done to rectify matters. If the criticism is unfair, tactfully intimate that you are sorry they feel this way, that you have hundreds of satisfied customers, but you appreciate their comments.  The key here is not to inflame the situation.  Take the wind out of their sails by retaining your composure and being professional.
  • Take it offline. If the complaint is especially complicated or extremely embarrassing to your business, quickly find an alternative way to communicate with the customer. Ask if you could message them privately or contact them by phone or email.

In the early days of social media, consumers paid far more heed to negative comments and reviews. Many now appreciate that receiving the odd negative review is an everyday part of business, and it’s how you respond to them that matters.


Affordable PR support you can count on in a crisis

Protect your reputation with FSB PR/Crisis Management. Professional PR advice for small businesses, with specialist crisis communications support and insurance of up to £10,000 in the event of a major public relations crisis.