Bad Online Review: What To Do Next

Bad Online Review, Thumbs down image

What do you do about a bad online review?

Ask for it to be taken down? Throw a hissy fit? Write a response berating the reviewer? No, no and no.

I know it’s difficult to think of a negative review in a positive light. But try.

If you’re in luck and play your cards right, you can not only win back that frustrated ex-customer, you might turn the negative review around completely. If you just let it sit, unanswered, it will certainly drive away potential customers.

Most important: Don’t ignore the negative review.
It will not go away. The web is a sticky place. Nothing is ever really gone from those interwebs! Even in years to come, people may find that bad online review. That one negative review may be the reason that a potential customer uses another vendor.

You must respond within two days with humility and grace. So suck it up, buttercup.

Here is what to do:


Sometimes the reviewer is right. Talk with your staff and see the reality from their viewpoint. Like belly buttons, we all have opinions. But if the same staffer keeps getting negative reviews, maybe there is a problem. Fix it!

It’s human nature to complain when something goes wrong, and take it for granted when all is perfect. We should all keep that in mind, and remember to spread the positive anytime we can.


Take 24 hours to think about it. Many business owners answer immediately and angrily, criticizing their negative reviewer. Take time to clear your head before you do something you’ll regret.

Write Out Your Response.

Calmly, politely, and professionally, address their concerns. Be concise and clear. Offer to talk with them and make it up to them. Invite them back for a second chance, in hopes that they’ll revise or possibly remove their negative review.

Wait… don’t hit post yet!

Have a friend or associate to read your response for clarity and tone. You don’t want to sound pissy or angry. Only after your associate gives you the thumbs up should you post your response.

Bogus Reviews

This happens more often than I ever expected. Some examples: Negative reviews from people who never bought from you. People giving you one star because your restaurant was not open when they arrived (Even though your Website/Facebook clearly SAY you’re closed on Mondays!). Trolls just doing what trolls do best; messing with the world. Not much can be done. Just post a calm reply saying something like “Our records show that this customer did not shop with us”, “We are closed on Mondays, sorry.” Try to keep the engagement minimal, and publicly ask them to call or email you. And hope for the best.

Need an example?

Here is an example of a good response to a negative review. A personal, heart-felt response is the best.

“We’re so sorry you had a bad experience with us! Please send us your email or give us a call. We’d like to talk with you about your experience and see if there is anything we can do to remedy your concerns. We’re grateful for your honesty and your business.”

We recommend that you do not dialog in the social media platform, past an initial response. Taking the follow-up conversation/s away from public view is usually better and safer. It’s so easy to misinterpret the written text, so try for phone or email if possible.

Sometimes your response won’t get answered; sometimes it will. But regardless, it shows to others that you care and that you’re there for your customers. You can’t ask for more than that!