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Every business gets a bad review. It doesn’t matter if you’re a large enterprise-level organization with thousands of employees or a small business at the heart of the local neighborhood: no matter the size or kind of your business, there’ll always be someone saying something unfavorable about your product or service.

No need to panic, though. No need to get into a state of shock. When your business gets slammed on a local review site – fairly or unfairly – you must respond. You can’t just ignore it. And be sure to keep these tips and tricks in mind as you go about responding to negative reviews online.

Organize the response before the reviews come in. The best way to respond to a bad review is to make sure you’re prepared for it. Set a target response time (say, 24 to 48 hours), decide who on your team should take ownership of the response, determine the steps to follow for resolving issues, and always make sure you have a way of documenting the incident (for records or for future staff training).

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Know your review sites. You won’t find out what your customers are saying if you don’t know where they’re talking. We here at ReviewTrackers previously posted about the review sites your business should know about. Familiarize yourself with the most popular and most relevant review sites (relevant to your business), visit them regularly, and learn how to use and respond to the reviews. Of course, you can also use a review monitoring tool like ReviewTrackers to collect all the reviews in a single dashboard.

Don’t immediately give compensations as a means of appeasing. It’s fine if you realize – and admit – that you made a mistake. But there are cases when you can’t and shouldn’t shoulder the blame for a negative review. Some customers may simply have had the wrong expectations, or were misinformed about something or another. Always see first if you can resolve the issue without having to settle or reward a customer with an unfair review.

Don’t just respond to the review. Resolve the issue, too. A timely, well-worded response to a bad review is a good start, but don’t think there won’t be work left to do after that. Analyze what the customer said to identify the bigger or deeper issue at hand, then put this issue under control. So, for example, if a customer complained of his or her experience with your rude sales representative, don’t just respond and pay online lip service. Resolve by talking directly with that sales rep and saying there’s no room for rudeness in your company.

Kevin Kent

Kevin is the Director of Finance and Operations at ReviewTrackers. Every day he finds creative ways to solve business owners' problems and identifies key issues to help them achieve top results.


  1. Rod S. Lee

    Although I’m not really sure whether Tim Haynes did well or not in the example here, I agree with the general point: a polite, well-structured and moderate reply will always beat unjust reviews. I’ve seen it work like a charm 🙂

  2. Marnie Sho

    I’m sure there was a good reason they asked $150 for moving a desk and hanging up the phone. Businesses that primarily work with people don’t usually act that way.

    • Heri