How to Handle a Negative Online Review

How to Handle a Negative Online Review

No matter who you are, what you sell, or what you are trying to accomplish with your business, you may be subject to a negative online review at some point in time.

In fact, if you haven't looked recently, your business might already have a negative online review published on a website that is being read and evaluated by prospective customers every single day.

Remember the old saying, “What you don't know can't hurt you?” Well, that saying absolutely does not apply to negative online reviews of a business.

The truth is: What you don't know CAN hurt you… so you had better pay attention to what's being said about your business online.

If there is one certainty about a negative review or a negative comment published online about your business, it's that you should not ignore it.

The first step in handling a negative online review or comment is knowing that it exists.

The second step is understanding the best way to manage it. Dealing with a negative review in an appropriate fashion is considered damage control. If your response to the review is handled correctly, your business may actually be able to turn the negative situation into something that can be positive and beneficial.

Given the sheer number of people who turn to online review sites for guidance on which business they should select for a product or service, it is not surprising that online reviews are more significant now than they ever were in the past.

It is your duty as a business owner to do everything possible to maintain your positive online reputation. If you cannot handle this task on your own, a reputable local reputation management company can be hired to help you.

7 Tips on How to Best Handle a Negative Online Review


How to Handle a Negative Online Review

TIP #1: Be aware that the online review or comment exists in the first place.

While it's certainly possible for business owners to purposely remain in the dark about what is being said about their business online, this tactic is not recommended.

A negative online review should be handled as soon as possible. Likewise, a positive online review should be quickly recognized and utilized to the business's advantage.

In order to be aware of a new online review, you must be monitoring the major reviews sites online, either manually or using a service or tool that notifies you (like our Reputation Management tool). Doing this manually is tedious and takes hours weekly, so it is not practical or feasible for most business owners.

TIP #2: When a negative review is discovered, take a few minutes to calm down before responding.

When you are attacked in person either verbally or physically, your instinct might be to immediately fight back with a vengeance. Always keep your composure.

As a business owner, the ability to remain cool, calm, and collected at all times is essential. It can be frustrating to deal with an angry person. But in all likelihood, losing your cool will only make the person angrier. This can result in additional negative reviews on multiple sites. The last thing you want is to deal with is 10 negative reviews rather than just one.

Don't take it personally. When it comes to responding to a negative online review, it's best to think strategically and professionally about how to react. Never attack the reviewer. The last thing you want is to do is to respond to an online comment using the wrong words or tone, as it can come back to hurt you.

Remember, your response will be published for the public to see – and your response might remain online indefinitely.

TIP #3: Avoid attacking or fighting with the person who published the negative review.

It may be impossible to win a fight against an angry customer. In fact, “winning” an argument might not be in the best interest of your business.

If you must confront an angry customer, and if you are not sure how the customer will react to your confrontation, try to keep the dialogue offline by reaching out privately to the reviewer.

TIP #4: Don't delay your response indefinitely.

Ignoring a problem will not make it go away. A negative online review will remain visible to public until it is either deleted or handled with your response. The longer a negative review remains published without a response, the more likely it can pose a dangerous risk to your business. Prospective customers will see the negative and it will look as if you don't care enough to listen or respond to your customers.

TIP #5: Try to turn a negative customer experience into a positive one.

In many cases, a negative online review is the result of a customer’s having had a single bad experience with one of your employees or one of your products or services.

When you learn about a customer's poor experience via a negative online review and then you work diligently to correct the problem quickly, it's entirely possible that the customer will redact his or her negative review. Or, that same customer might voluntarily publish a positive review which alerts the public that your business cared enough about the situation to rectify the problem.

TIP #6: Encourage your loyal and happy customers to review your business online.

Getting lots of positive online reviews from happy customers or clients is an awesome feeling. You know you have lots of happy customers or else you still wouldn't be in business. Sometimes they just need to be reminded that their opinion matters.

When one negative review is mixed with 25 positive reviews, the public is less likely to take the negative review seriously. While you should never pay strangers to post positive online reviews, there is nothing wrong with asking truly happy customers or clients to take a moment to post a review of your business online. If they are genuinely pleased with your products or services, they should be happy to comply with this request.

Using a tool, such as Reputation Local's Review Generation tool can help automate the process and protect your business through the process.

TIP #7: Request online reviews be deleted.

If you believe that a negative online review is unwarranted or outright malicious, it is sometimes possible to ask the website to remove the comment.

Unfortunately, this can be a daunting process that may require the assistance and guidance of an online local reputation management company.

If the negative review cannot be removed, it should be strategically handled to minimize the potential damage to your business.


There is no denying that handling a negative online review is something no business owner wants to do. Not only can dealing with a negative review be extremely time-consuming, but also it can be emotionally draining. There is no question that learning via the internet about someone who had an unfavorable experience with your business or with one of your employees is not pleasant.

Regardless of whether or not your business deserves a negative online review, it's something that can occur at any time.

Disgruntled employees. Unhappy customers. People with nothing better to do than leave negative comments for no particular reason.

All of these reasons for negative reviews exist. The bottom line is it is imperative to handle a negative review correctly if you do not want the review to leave a permanent black mark next to the name of your business.

If you would like help protecting your business against negative online reviews, or would like to learn about how our online tool can help with all of your online reputation management needs, give me a call at (303) 926-5227 and ask for Julie.