5 Things Not to Do When Responding to Negative Online Reviews

by Stuart McHenry June 30, 2016

It’s almost impossible to not get a bad review as a business. Although good reputation management practices can allow you to attain a great overall review score, you’re still going to get a negative review every once in a while. When this happens it’s important that you are prepared to appropriately respond and know how to properly manage the situation. Keep in mind that what you say online and how you respond can have more of an effect than the bad review you received alone. We’ve put together a list of five things not to do when you receive a negative review, whether it be for your business, blog, or social media.


1.  Argue with the Reviewer

You may think that the negative reviewer is completely wrong about you or your business and think that they are maliciously out to get you. However, this doesn’t matter, as you have to keep in mind that other customers will take the negative reviewer’s word about your business or site over yours, as they are supposedly unbiased. Customer reviews can make or break leads, and so it’s best not to argue with them and minimize their experience. Instead, apologize and give them an offer to return, purchase another product, etc. so that you can give them a better experience.


2.  Deny Their Allegations

Listen to what your audience says and take their critiques into consideration. They are telling you about a problem that you can learn how to avoid going forward. By stating that your audience’s allegations are wrong you are only showing your own arrogance instead of your cooperation. Even if you don’t think the person is right, write a response in an understanding tone and tell them that you will look into the problem that they wrote about.


3.  Ask them to Remove It

One nightmare review story that recently hit the stands was about a hotel in New York that levied a $500 fine for anyone who wrote a negative review and refused to remove it. Although you may not be thinking about such drastic measures as charging your customers for a negative review, you should not ask them to remove it either, as this will likely be looked down upon and may even result in the customer writing another negative review. Instead, create a reactionary plan on how to react and respond publicly to the reviewer with a resolution.


4.  Avoid the Review

When you avoid a negative review online, you will appear as if you are guilty because of your silence. Take the time to turn a negative review into a positive experience. For example, if a customer wrote a bad review about your restaurant stating that they had to wait forever for their food to come, the first thing you should do is apologize for their long wait. After that, let them know that there are some days that are extremely busy or that you were understaffed, and if they’d like to come back to your restaurant you’ll ensure that their meal comes in a timely manner. On the other hand, by keeping silent, other people who are reading the review will think that your restaurant is simply disorganized, which could affect their decision to come to your restaurant.


5.  Only Focus on Negative Reviews

Don’t just react to the negative reviews, make sure that you also take active control of your positive reviews as well. Additionally, make sure that you foster these positive reviews by urging your satisfied audience to share their positive experience. By gathering a large number of favorable reviews, you can ensure that the negative reviews are overshadowed.


Stuart McHenry
Stuart McHenry is a US-based SEO Consultant focusing on link building, content marketing, local SEO, and reputation management. Follow Stuart on Twitter @smindsrt