Responding to Negative Online Reviews – Small Business Tips PART 1


How to Respond to Negative Reviews Online

A one-star review or customer complaints can feel like a stab to the heart for your business. This is especially true if you have a limited number of reviews and it is on a site that gives you no option to remove a negative review, no matter how false they are.

Responding to Negative Reviews Online
Responding to Negative Reviews Online

Receiving a negative review on a site like Yelp or means that people who utilize your services or products are active on that site. So you need to be active as well and not ignore the issue. That bad review will be there as long as the site is there.

Know that in most instances you are not helpless. We would all prefer five-star, glowing reviews, but negative reviews give you a chance to learn about the most important side of the customer experience and show your compassionate, customer-centered professionalism in how you handle a dissatisfied customer.


PART 1 – DO THIS & DON’T DO THAT – Responding to Negative Reviews Online

DO remember that the point of responding is to influence future readers towards trusting your business

DO give a sincere and empathetic apology for the sub-standard customer experience

DO thank the reviewer for taking the time to provide feedback

DO address the reviewer’s issues and note anything they missed that would have made the experience different

DO honestly explain what has been done to correct the problem

DON’T argue with or insult the reviewer. You probably won’t change their minds but maybe the next customer’s.

DON’T politely, or otherwise, detail how they are so wrong or deny the complaint was their experience (call them a liar)

DON’T be overly emotional or try to be witty, ironic or sarcastic in your response (few will get it)

DON’T write a long response or include any unnecessary details or sales/marketing information

If you have a true belief in your business, your product, and your service you can show this to future customers and reviewers by suggesting in your response that the unhappy reviewer return to your business and see what a pleasure a typical customer experience is and how much you care about your customers and your business. Ask them to update their review with their new experience. A review reversal is priceless advertising for your business and displays how much you care.

Almost all local review sites give the owner a space to publicly respond to reviews. Google Places, Yahoo Local, Trip Advisor, Yelp, Insider Pages, Merchant Circle, and SuperPages all allow responses and most of these will allow owners to edit and delete reviews (except for Yelp which seems to stay in litigation about this very issue) so reach out to customer service on these sites and see what exactly they can do to help you with a negative review.



In PART 2 we address COMPOSING your response to negative reviews online.

In PART 3 we address POSTING your response.

In PART 4 we address how to COMBAT negative reviews.

How have you responded to a negative review? Let us know in the comments.

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