How to Respond to Negative Business Reviews Online

Online reviews are big deals for businesses of all sizes across almost every industry. Not only do a huge 97 percent of consumers read online reviews, but they trust reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family. To have a fighting chance in today’s uber-competitive business world, your business needs to be consistently getting new reviews … particularly good ones. For better or for worse, social media has given consumers a megaphone when it comes to both compliments and complaints about local businesses. Reviews can either make or break your business. Negative business reviews can be especially challenging. The experience of one person may not be the same as another. It seems we always pay more attention to the negative business review than the positive.

It’s no wonder why we live and buy by online reviews: The Washington Post recently reported that a third of American adults use a computer or phone to buy something at least once a week — “about as often as we take out the trash.” We use reviews to vet our options. In 2016, the Pew Research Center found that 82 percent of American adults say they sometimes or always read online reviews for new purchases. And more than two-thirds of regular review readers believe that they’re “generally accurate.”

So, as a business owner, how do you stay on top of online reviews and avoid negative reviews. More importantly, if you are on the receiving end of a negative business review, what do you do in the aftermath?

How Important are Online Reviews?

Short answer … very important. According to these stats from Nielsen:
  • 82 percent of consumers go to review sites because they want to buy a service or product
  • 89 percent make a purchase within a week of visiting review sites and 29 percent will do so within a day

The reviews that a consumer sees about your business service or product are most likely going to lead him/her towards or away what you are offering depending on the reviews posted. Consumers are likely to spend 31 percent more on business with excellent reviews, and 92 percent will use a local business if it has at least a four-star rating.

Whether consumers are seeing reviews on Google, Facebook or Yelp, these sites are real players in the game to retain or gain customers. They play a vital role in search engine optimization (SEO) which can lead to a higher search ranking.


Google was found to be the most important review site for purchase decisions, and consumers are 38 percent more likely to visit and 29 percent more likely to consider buying from a business with a complete Google My Business page. Reviews on Google can also increase your click-through rates.


Consider that Facebook influences more than half of users' purchase decisions, and 80 percent of consumers are more likely to trust a local business if it has positive Facebook reviews.


With more than 127 million reviews, Yelp is the godfather of online review platforms, and good reviews on Yelp can do a lot for your local business.

Why You Might be Getting Bad Reviews

When a business receives a bad review, the first thought that probably comes to mind is “why?” There are a number of reasons this might be, including:
  • Customers Don’t Feel Heard. Many negative reviews focus on the handling of a mistake rather than the mistake itself. Make sure that you’re being respectful with customers.
  • You Made a Mistake. Online reviews can sting, but they can also provide you with valuable input on your business. Approach reviews with an open mind and is prepared to act on criticism when it’s relevant.
  • Some People Just Have Bad Days. While you should approach every review with an open mind, sometimes people are just angry and they use online reviews to vent, to the detriment of your business. In this case, you should just move on.
  • You’re Being Attacked by a Competitor. Unfortunately, fake reviews are a thing these days and some unsavory business owners have realized that they can get ahead by making their competitors look bad.

How to Respond to Bad Reviews

So you’ve received a negative business review and you’ve identified why you got it in the first place. So what are you going to do about it? Sure you could ignore it and just hope it goes away. But let’s be honest … people talk more and pay more attention to the bad reviews. If you don’t respond or rectify the situation, things can get very ugly in a hurry. Here are some good tips to go by in dealing with a negative business review:

Leave a Personal Response

Respond personally to all reviews – and do it quickly. Thank reviewers (both positive and negative) for their comments and ask negative reviewers to contact you personally so that you can work with them to improve their experience with your company. Showing you care and are willing to acknowledge that something may have gone wrong instead of making empty excuses or promises goes a long way.

A public response puts your customer service skills on display. The end goal is to rectify a bad situation while hopefully changing the reviewer’s perception (and that of the rest of the public who is reading the review) while ultimately building your online reputation.

Improve Your Customer Service

Track customer complaints and comments as though they are assets so that customers feel like their voices are being heard. Just as you collect your business assets in a database so you know where they are, who has them and what condition they are in, you can do the same with reviews.

Track the reviews you are receiving – negative and positive. Note who was on duty or providing the service that was reviewed. Was the review made during a certain time of day or around a particular promotion? Use the review as a learning lesson for your employees. Identify the problem and discuss how you can ensure this doesn’t happen again. A negative business review can turn into a positive teaching moment.

Don’t Take it Personally

Negative reviews can sting, but it’s critical that you don’t try to retaliate against the reviewer. Don’t lash out. Even if you’re right, it won’t end in your favor. At the end of the day, some people will never be satisfied no matter what you say or do. Even if you have the best intentions and the right circumstances to proactively address an issue, not every person who leaves a negative business review will have a change of heart. You can’t please 100% of the people 100% of the time.

When dealing with customers and the prospect of an online review being posted about your business – especially if you are offering a product or service, it’s beneficial to have a good working knowledge of your assets and/or inventory. Customers are never happy if a business runs out of an item. Whether it’s a t-shirt or a special ingredient for a favorite dessert when a business doesn’t have an item available, customers are going to go somewhere else to find what they are looking for, and they are going to tell someone else about their experience.

Implementing an asset tracking platform like Asset Panda helps companies of all sizes ensure that they are always in the know about their vital assets and inventory. Flexible enough to change as your needs change, Asset Panda’s unlimited fields and configurability allow the platform to become whatever you need it to be. With our free Mobile App, your team can work from anywhere on their own smartphones or tablets, or log in online. Asset Panda provides designated users with anywhere, anytime access to the real-time information they need: from serial number and model to who has the asset, where it’s located, and so on. With visibility to the entire lifecycle of a particular asset, you can better track and manage maintenance, repairs, and upgrades.

Chances are that at some point your business will be the victim of negative business reviews, but taking steps to rectify the situation in a timely and responsible manner will go a long way. And having a reliable way to make sure that your assets and inventory are in check is a great way to be sure you know what you have/don’t have.

Visit and see how we can help you on the path to positive reviews.

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Audra London

Audra London, founder of Conceptual Communications, LLC, has over 10 years of writing, public relations and marketing experience and serves as an expert on press releases, media relations, feature writing, web content and marketing copy.

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