Do You Need To Respond To Negative Reviews?


But what if … Yep.  Still yep.

This one is a hard one because you’re going along, getting some great engagement, maybe a few rave reviews and then a negative review comes along and can just send you into a tailspin.  Don’t let it!  Negative reviews can be one of two things:  opportunities to improve, or a way to showcase your exceptional customer service skills.

Here are a few steps you can take to deal well with negative reviews:

1.  Don’t Ignore It

A Hubspot survey reported that 50% of customers will stop going to a business that doesn’t answer negative posts on social media and 80% expect to receive a response within 24 hours.  Just like you wouldn’t ignore an upset customer in person, definitely don’t do it online.  Unfortunately, it’s not going away if you ignore it.

2.  Separate Their Facts From Their Feelings

This is a big one.  Sometimes when someone’s behind a computer screen, their delivery can be a bit … fiery.  And that can make you defensive, and ready to fire something off right back.  Take a deep breath, take a look at the review and figure out if there’s truth to it.  Were you really busy Saturday and it’s possible someone waited in line for 20 minutes only to be told they were out of the special?  This is a great learning opportunity and an opportunity to improve for your staff!  Imagine if they never told you and never gave you the chance to make it right.  Opportunities to improve are never negative.

responding to negative reviews

3.  Separate Your Facts From Your Feelings

You are so incredibly passionate about your business and your customers or you wouldn’t be doing what you’re doing, right?  So resist the urge to say, “It was so crazy busy and we were all doing the best we could!”  Well that’s a feeling and I think that goes without saying.  The facts would look more like, “Thank you so much for taking the time to share your feedback.  We were busier than expected on Saturday — a great problem to have!– and our staff scheduling fell short of making your experience up to our usual standards.  We will be looking more closely of our coverage going forward and we so appreciate you sharing your experience so we can improve.”  If you need to write a feelings based response first and delete it, I completely understand.

4.  Take it offline

This goes for Google My Business reviews, Yelp, social media reviews and comments.  If it’s answerable, answer it right away.  But what if it’s a sticky situation?  Like you’ve looked at the facts and you really need more information in order to handle this situation, or maybe the review isn’t 100% adding up and you need to understand more.  Take it offline.  Say something validating but vague like, “I’m so sorry to hear about your experience.  We’d really like to hear more and find out how we can make it right.  Could you message us with a contact number we could reach you at?  Our owner would love to give you a call.”  I would say 95% of the time, people are way calmer over the phone/in person vs. an online review.  Then you can ask all the questions you need to while still showing other customers’ that you care deeply about their experience.


5.  This Is Actually A Chance to Shine

I remember one time — pre-social media — I had a terrible experience at a restaurant.  I asked to speak to the manager, and I said I knew they were busy, but … He kindly interrupted me and said we opened this place to be busy.  We should do as well for you during a peak time as a slow time, and I’m so sorry your experience fell short.  Here’s what I’m going to do to make it right.  I honestly couldn’t tell you what went so poorly during that visit, but I have thought about what they did to make it right for a lot of years!  When I look at reviews of a business and see a one-star review with a great response from the company, that is a 5-star review in my eyes.  Of course things are going to go wrong sometimes, we’re humans running businesses staffed by other humans.  It’s how you handle it when things go wrong that people are really watching.   Make it a chance to really shine!

responding to negative reviews

Any sticky review situations you’ve run into?  I’d love to help!  Comment below or email me at carissa at

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