Responding To Negative Online Reviews

Receiving a not-so-positive review is an inevitable part of owning a business. At some point, someone is going to be less than pleased with your service or product and will feel the need to let others know about it, most likely on the internet. This is important because studies show that 9 out of 10 customers are likely to read online reviews before visiting a new place of business. So, what should you do when you inevitably get that negative online review?

Negative reviews tell consumers what might go wrong with a product or service and how your company reacted to a situation. Responding immediately is smart; it allows you to address the customer’s concerns and hopefully save the relationship. Respond in a way that is both genuine and on-brand. Investigate where things went wrong, if necessary, so that you know the full story and can better understand the circumstances from the point of view of the customer. 

It is often smart to offer a reasonable accommodation to a customer, such as a credit or replacement product. Regardless, your response should show care and concern for the consumer, with an explanation of what happened on the company’s side — not an excuse. Sometimes mistakes happen and no one is at fault; it is your response — not the actual incident — that could determine whether you lose or keep this customer.

Remember that every negative review is an opportunity to get feedback on your business. Respond to each comment personally and thoughtfully and it could help market your company. Potential customers will see that your organization may not be perfect, but you are willing to take responsibility for mistakes and work to make things right. For more tips and information on negative reviews, check out the accompanying resource.

Brian Farrell is a coach, helping clients achieve their personal and professional goals. He's also the creator of the "QA2 Method". For more about Brian, visit

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