Handling Negative Reviews

Essential Steps to Handle Negative Reviews of your Business

Bad online reviews can cause potential customers to shop elsewhere, negatively impacting your business’ bottom line. If your business has received a bad online review, here are steps you can take to handle it and minimize the damage.

Respond to Customer Reviews

Ignoring a bad review won’t make it go away. On the other hand, responding to customer reviews can result in better ratings and improve your business’ online reputation.

The Harvard Business Review (link is external) analyzed tens of thousands of hotel reviews and responses from TripAdvisor. The study found that around a third of reviews on TripAdvisor receive a response and almost a half of hotels respond to reviews. According to the study, hotels that respond to customer reviews receive 12 percent more reviews and their ratings increase by an average of 0.12 stars.

Yelp for Business Owners points out that (link is external) responding to reviews is a great way to learn from your customers and build goodwill among your most vocal customers.

Be Nice and Avoid Getting Personal

If you’ve received a bad review online, it can be tempting to defend your business and get personal in the process. However, as Google Business Support advises (link is external), it’s important that business owners remain polite and avoid getting personal when they respond to customer reviews.

Replies should be useful, readable and courteous, because it’s difficult to win an argument with an unsatisfied customer. That’s why it’s important to think before you reply to a negative review. As Yelp for Business Owners points out, if a reviewer believes you’re being “rude, condescending or disingenuous in any way, there’s a chance he or she could get angry and make the situation even worse.”

Thank Your Reviewers and Customize Responses

You might be angry over a bad review but your response should be professional, authentic and humane. Apologize to the customer and thank them for taking the time to highlight issues with your business. That can help transform a negative review into a positive one.

Also, make sure you use the reviewer’s name and recap their specific complaint. Customizing responses will show that your business genuinely appreciates customer feedback.


Take the Time to Upload an Image with a Review Response

Yelp requires all business account users to upload a real photo before they message customers. Yelp does this in order to make the messages more personal.

If you’re responding to a bad review, make a video response message or send relevant photos with your response. It will show that you’re taking the complaint seriously and are responding in a diligent way, which can help build trust with your customers and win them over, despite their negative experience.

Show You’ve Taken the Necessary Action

Customer feedback is an essential part of improving business performance. If you’ve received a negative online review, showing that you’ve taken the steps to resolve the issue could help turn a negative review into a positive one.

Once you’ve acted upon the issue your customer raised, reply to the complaint on the review site so that other customers can read what about what you’ve done.


My name is Anita Campbell. I run online communities and information websites reaching over 6 million small business owners, stakeholders and entrepreneurs annually, including Small Business Trends (link is external), a daily publication about small business issues, and BizSugar.com (link is external), a small business social media site.

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Meadowlands Magazine

Meadowlands Magazine

Meadowlands Magazine, the official publication of the Meadowlands Chamber and its affiliate organizations, has proudly served the business community of the Meadowlands region for over 40 years. We are among largest business magazine in New Jersey (second by circulation) and offer prime visibility opportunities for businesses to connect with potential customers.

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