How a Local Business Should Respond to Negative Reviews

Negative Reviews Online

It’s inevitable … you will get negative online business reviews. How you handle these negative reviews is critical. Get it wrong and you can really hurt your own business. But here are five ways you can turn negative reviews into a positive for your business.

Consumers today trust online business reviews as much as personal recommendations. They regularly use them to determine whether or not to do business with you. Check out these stats from a recent BrightLocal consumer review survey:


of consumers read online reviews for local businesses


of these consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews

Keep a close eye on your company’s business reviews. Yelp, Google and Facebook are the three most important local business review sites, but you might have some other regional or industry-specific sites that you’ll want to monitor too.

How to Respond to Negative Business Reviews Online

You WILL get negative business reviews, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. No business is perfect. A few negative reviews mixed in with a lot of positive reviews actually lends credibility to your business. A business with only glowing, 5-star reviews seems suspicious to consumers.

But you cannot ignore negative reviews and must respond in a positive, professional manner. Here’s the process:

How to Respond to Negative Business Reviews Online

Monitor online reviews

Before anything else, you must actually monitor your online reviews. You can’t respond to negative reviews that you don’t know exist. Check the major business listings at least weekly for new reviews: Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, BBB and high-profile industry-specific directories like TripAdvisor, OpenTable, etc.

Don’t ignore bad reviews

A negative business review means you have an unhappy customer and a good business will want to try to make things right. How or if you respond shows other potential customers how you’ll work with them too.

Don’t respond immediately, but do respond quickly

It’s tempting to reply right away to a negative review. Before you do, take time to really look at things from the customer’s perspective. Think about it for a while and be sure to cool off. A rash or unprofessional response will only hurt your business. Once you can respond with a cool head, be sure that you do respond … preferably within a couple of days.

Keep your reply short, simple, and professional

Empathize with the customer’s experience and ask them to contact you so that you can help make things right. Nothing else is needed. As a bonus, you’ve just impressed any potential future customers reading through your business reviews.

Don’t respond more than once

Don’t get into a back and forth argument with a customer online. It’s not productive and only reflects poorly on you.

Encourage more positive reviews

The best defense is a good offense. Make sure you have a strong reputation management strategy where you continually ask customers to review your business online. A couple of negative reviews don’t look bad when outweighed with a lot of positive reviews.

Example of a Great Response to a Negative Review

A Massage Envy location received a 1-star review from an unhappy customer. But notice how the business responded to the review. They were actually monitoring their reviews and responded within a day or so. Next, they empathized with the customer, offered to make things right, and encouraged the customer to contact them directly via phone.

Massage Envy Negative Review Reply
Massage Envy did a great job of responding to a negative business review.

This is exactly how a business should respond to a negative review. You may or may not win this customer back. But you will definitely have a positive impact on future potential customers who read this response.