Dealing with Negative Customer Reviews

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 3 Minutes, 36 Second
 Written By John Marx

 Tags: Small Business, SEO


It's time to talk about the pieces of our business that no business owner ever hopes to be discussing. Being prepared though is the first step in this situation. Dealing with your own mistakes, mistakes of employees, mistakes of other customers, misconceptions, missed expectations, and dealing with people that are just unhappy with your services. How you handle these situations will either turn them into an advocate or make them your worse enemy. Let's shoot for your advocate! Whenever we take on a project for our SEO and social media Business Improvement Plan clients we do an onboarding meeting whether on the phone or in-person. We discuss how to deal with negative reviews and remarks. In this article, we are going to talk solely on about the review side but pertains to any negative attributes you receive regarding your products, service, or business.

Being negative in today's world is easier than we ever could hope for. It is easy for someone to complain behind a keyboard and type. There is nothing to fear which further empowers those that you may have directly or indirectly upset. Positive reviews are what we all hope for. Negative reviews can also benefit your business if you show compassion, a true apology, an understanding, and a sincere desire to make things right.

These are the top five ways we've found over the years that will help turn a negative into a positive. You won't be able to make everyone happy but you can give it your best attempt to take the higher road in everything that you do.

Never Argue

Never argue with a reviewer online. Yes, you might make it to the news and all that publicity might get you some extra business. But, think about it - a year from now, if your potential customers chance upon your argument, your whole organization will look unprofessional to them. In many cases this is where we let our clients that we will be happy to respond as we are a bit more disconnected and less likely to take things personally.

Talk to the customer

If you have got a bad review, get in touch with the customer as soon as possible. Try to understand what went wrong and offer your solutions. Learn what they feel will make the situation better and include them in the process if it makes sense. This is one of our favorite solutions as we can also take the problem offline. People will see you contacted the person and are dealing with it in a professional manner.

Offer a Public response

Offer a public response to negative reviews. Your response should reflect your business's values, culture, and being tactful to not add fuel to the fire. Thank the customer for his patronage, accept full responsibility for the situation and mention what you're doing to set his complaint right.

Ask for feedback

Try to stop a negative review even before it happens. If possible, talk to the customer after you have serviced them. Most of the times, people leave a bad review because the product/service did not live up to his expectations. When delivering your products or services always end with the basic question of "is there anything else we can do for you?". This can stop most negativity right in the tracks and allow you to fix it before it becomes a problem.

Explain your position

If the negative review is due to something that you cannot control (e.g. loss of power, weather, etc.) explain your position and do your best to make it better. You can promise that you will consider revising your options in future.


Most review sites will not allow you to remove or edit reviews left by your customers. The key when you cannot get them removed is to address in a professional and tactful manner. Negative reviews are never good but how you respond can tell a person reading the review a lot about you as a person and business. This is why we monitor everyone of our Business Improvement Plan clients reputation online, respond to the negative, thank those that leave positive reviews, and promote for new (and positive) reviews by their customers.