How to Respond to Negative Reviews Online

Online reviews play a key role in whether a customer chooses to do business with you. In fact, 97% of customers consult online reviews before making a purchasing decision. Word of mouth is back in a big way online. How you choose to respond to negative reviews is one of the most important tests you’ll face as an entrepreneur.

Opportunity Calls

Wisdom says a negative review is a bad thing, right? The fact is, they’re unavoidable for most businesses. No matter how meticulous your customer service is eventually a customer will feel compelled to provide negative feedback. This situation isn’t something to shy away from or ignore. A bad review is an opportunity for you to right the wrong publicly, where potential customers can see it. Whether it’s on Yelp, Google, Facebook or Twitter, here are some tips for how to respond to negative reviews online.

Timing is Key

Time is of the essence when responding to a negative review. There’s no need to rush into a hasty response but we recommend answering the customer complaint within 48 hours. A speedy response shows you’re engaged and eager to help customers. This response will give others confidence that you’re a trustworthy person to do business with.

Avoid Stock Responses to Negative Reviews

Customers don’t want to feel patronized, especially when they have taken the time to register a complaint. Avoid any stock responses in your correspondence and keep marketing lingo and industry jargon out of your response. Keep it simple, keep it authentic and you can’t go far wrong. Customers appreciate the human touch.


One of the first, and simplest, things to do is to apologize to the customer and empathize with their position. Strive to take the conversation out of the public realm through direct messages or emails as you establish the facts of what happened. Whether the customer was right or wrong, the fact you apologized publicly will show you took the time to respond and try to make things right.

Make it Right

If you discover the customer has a legitimate issue with the service provided, do your best to make things right. The fact is, it’s going to cost you a lot less trying to win that customer back than find a completely new one to replace them. Offer at least the cost of the item or service they found unsatisfactory. If that’s not enough, offer a refund. Not every customer can be won back, but it’s always worth trying.

Look at Your Processes

Use negative reviews as a chance to do things better. Ask the customer how you could improve the product/service in question. Look at your processes and find ways to ensure the mistake won’t be repeated. Involving customers in helping to shape the future of your business is a powerful way to foster loyalty and repeat business.

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