How to Respond to Bad Online Reviews


As a small business, it can be alarming to receive a bad review on a popular platform such as Google, Facebook or You might be unsure of how to respond, or worried it will turn away future customers.

Before you panic, here are some things to consider:

  • A negative review can make positive reviews look even better. A business that keeps a variety of reviews shows their honesty and that they have nothing to hide. Some customers may be unhappy, but a majority of people loved your service.

  • Negative reviews can make your brand more believable. The occasional poor review will show that all your reviews are authentic. A 2013 study from Harvard Business School supports this by finding that a majority of consumers trust businesses more when they see a mix of reviews.

  • Consumers know that no one is perfect and will appreciate seeing honest feedback and your response.

  • A bad customer review is a great opportunity to show off your excellent customer service skills!

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If you have received a bad online review, here are some steps you can take (some suggested by

  1. Resist the urge to move bad reviews. Not every customer can be happy, and some negative reviews may not be so much about your service, but that the product didn’t meet their standards. Also, if you publish poor customer reviews, it could make customers trust your positive reviews even more.

  2. Respond to the negative review publicly. Your consumers will be watching to see how you handle bad customer reviews and will remember how you reply. Consider acknowledging your customer’s complaint and offering a way to fix the problem. A great way to start is by posting a phone number so you can speak with them directly.

  3. Keep calm and stay kind. A bad customer review is not the end of your business. Take some time to think of how you want to respond to the bad review and draft out an answer. Have a trusted colleague or friend read your reply over to see if they agree with your approach.

  4. Learn from the feedback. Is there anything you can take away from your company’s service or products? Reflect on your business model and employees to see if any changes need to be made.

  5. Be sure to follow-up with the customer. Check in to see if they are satisfied with your efforts to resolve the issue. Chances are, they’ll remember how you went above and beyond to work with them instead of the original bad experience.

If you are afraid of negative online reviews - you don’t have to be anymore! Remember they can be
easy to handle, and ultimately can have some positive results.

Accredited Businesses can visit their
BBB Business Login section to find resources like postcards, sample social media posts and more to help generate customer reviews.

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