How to deal with negative customer reviews online

Customer experience

Have you ever found yourself having to deal with bad customer feedback online, but didn’t know how to respond? Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to respond to negative customer reviews online.

As a business owner it’s realistic to expect that you’re not going to be able to satisfy 100% of your customers 100% of the time, no matter how hard you try. As a result you may find yourself having to deal with negative online reviews and comments about your business.

How your business is perceived online directly impacts on how your business performs online, as customers increasingly turn to the internet to make purchasing decisions. As a small business owner, knowing how to deal with negative customer reviews online has become a key component in any modern online marketing and brand strategy.

Here are some step-by-step tips on how you should handle a negative online review from a customer:

Step 1: Stay calm and determine if it’s genuine

It’s only natural for you to feel put out, or even angry if someone has left a negative comment or review about your business online. But your key focus here needs to remain on what you can do to turn the situation around.

The first step is read the full review to determine if it’s worth responding. If it appears to be spam or a ‘frequent and known complainer’ has posted it then it may be worth leaving it – you don’t want to find yourself drawn into an ongoing and unjustified online spat.

Step 2: Prepare to respond to the reviewer

If you’ve decided that the negative review or feedback is genuine then there are three simple rules to bear in mind:

  • Respond promptly – Monitor places where customers leave reviews about your business and if you spot something new then act on it, sooner rather than later.
  • Always be positive – although you might be feeling personally hurt or even angry always try to promote your business in the best possible light.
  • Make it personal – show empathy with the person who has left the review or feedback. Let them know that if they are distressed or unhappy, you hear them!

Step 3: Thank the reviewer and take steps to resolve the issue

Open your response by thanking the customer for taking the time to share their feedback with you. Although it’s not nice to hear negative customer reviews, any kind of feedback you get from customers is valuable if you want to improve and grow your business. If someone has taken the time to share their feedback with you then thank them, publically.

Secondly move onto outlining the steps you have taken to resolve any issues that they outlined or highlighted in their review. This is a great opportunity for you to showcase how important customer experience is to your business and how seriously you take customer service.

Letting people know how you’ve rectified or corrected the issue is also an effective way to reassure prospective customers that they won’t face any similar future issues.

Step 4: Ask someone else to read your response before you post

Once you’ve written your response it’s always a good idea to ask a fresh set of unbiased eyes to read over it, before you post. If you’re responding to an overly negative review then it can be easy to come across in a negative way (especially if you feel the comments are unjustified).

Getting a neutral party to look over your review helps to make sure you’re presenting your business in the best, and most positive light online.

Ruth Cole, Product Marketing Manager,