Here's the Right Way to Respond to a Bad Review

Every business owner has to deal with it eventually. Check out these eight tips for handling bad online reviews.

Amanda Clark
Amanda Clark

As a business owner, you can’t help but smile when people tell you how much they appreciate your services. By the same token, however, it’s rough to hear from people whose experience with your business was suboptimal. Negative online reviews can be especially frustrating — and even hurtful.

It’s important to remember that bad reviews posted to sites like Yelp, Facebook or Google don’t just impact your personal feelings — they also can sink your online reputation, causing you to lose business.

Ignoring bad reviews doesn’t make them go away, and it’s important to know how to respond to them constructively. Here are some steps that service trade business owners can follow to ensure they’re properly responding to negative online feedback. 

  1. First, practice vigilance. You can’t respond to negative reviews if you don’t know they exist. Be aware of any sites where your company gets feedback and develop a habit of checking your reviews regularly.
  2. Practice gratitude. When you see positive reviews, take a moment to leave a quick thank you.
  3. Don’t lash out. When you see a negative review — especially one that strikes you as unfair — it’s only natural to get angry. However, responding from a place of rage will only make things worse. Take a few hours (or even a few days) to cool off before you do anything else. Maintaining your composure is key!
  4. Apologize. Even if you don’t think you did anything wrong, show some humility by telling the customer how sorry you are that they had a bad experience.
  5. Offer customer service. Try to make things right. Ensuring that everyone reading the review knows you’re taking it seriously. You might offer a discount on future work, a partial refund or a redo of the project. Seize every negative review as an opportunity to show customers how much you care, and how much you want them to have a positive experience.
  6. Take things offline. Whenever possible, get the reviewer to either email or call you so that you can work things out in person, rather than hashing it out in public.
  7. Know when to move on. There are some people who just can’t be pleased, and who may simply want to complain. If your offers of customer service fall on deaf ears, you may need to walk away from the situation and resign yourself to a bad review. You can’t force anyone to take down their negative opinion.
  8. Actively seek positive reviews. The best way to deal with bad reviews is to drown them out with positive ones. Don’t be passive. It’s important to actually ask your customers for reviews. Leave links to your review profiles on invoices and in emails. Reach out to loyal customers directly and let them know how much a quick, positive review would mean to you.

Bad reviews happen to most businesses sooner or later. Make sure you know the best ways to deal with them positively and proactively. 

About the author: Amanda Clark is president and editor-in-chief of Grammar Chic, a full-service professional writing company. She is a published ghostwriter and editor, and she's currently under contract with literary agencies in Malibu, California and Dublin. Since founding Grammar Chic in 2008, Clark, along with her team of skilled professional writers, has offered expertise to clients in the creative, business and academic fields. The company accepts a wide range of projects; often engages in content and social media marketing; and drafts resumes, press releases, web content, marketing materials and ghostwritten creative pieces. Contact Clark at


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