Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Online Reputation Management: Strategies for Handling Negative Reviews and Feedback

In an ideal world, negative reviews wouldn’t exist. Customers would always be thrilled with your brand’s products and services and would take the time to leave positive reviews. Customer reviews can be incredibly beneficial, including helping with local SEO, establishing credibility and trust, and distinguishing your brand from competitors. 

Unfortunately, brands can’t expect to receive only positive reviews, and effectively responding to negative reviews is crucial for managing your brand’s online reputation, building social proof and maintaining customer trust.  

Online review sites like Google My Business (GMB), Yelp, Zillow and TripAdvisor all have varying rules and regulations when it comes to handling negative reviews. Most platforms won’t let you pick and choose which reviews to show, so you can’t simply hide or remove negative reviews and only publicly highlight the positive comments.  

This begs the question: What should you do when a customer is upset and posts a negative review online?


Here are some strategies and best practices for handling negative reviews: 

Evaluate the Situation 

While it’s essential to manage negative reviews effectively, not all reviews warrant a response. Some reviews may be spammy, irrelevant, or clearly intended to provoke rather than provide constructive feedback. In these cases, it might be best to ignore them rather than engaging with potentially unproductive or harmful comments. Always assess the content and intent of a review before deciding whether to respond or not. 

Respond promptly

When you do opt to addressing negative reviews online, it’s ideal to respond in a timely manner to demonstrate that you value customer feedback and are committed to helping with any concerns. Aim to respond within 24-48 hours of receiving the review to show that you take customer feedback seriously. 

Stay calm and professional

Maintain a calm and professional tone in your response, even if the review is unfair or hostile. It’s important when responding to negative reviews to avoid getting defensive or engaging in arguments with the reviewer. Instead, acknowledge concerns and express empathy for a disappointing experience.

Personalize your response

A key to managing negative reviews is to address the reviewer by name (if available) and personalize your response to show that you’re genuinely concerned about the customer experience. Avoid using generic, cookie-cutter responses, as they can come across as insincere. 

Apologize and acknowledge the issue

Start your response to the negative review by apologizing for the customer’s poor experience and acknowledging the specific issue or concern that’s been raised. Communicate empathy and understanding, and let the reviewer know that their feedback is valuable to you. 

Provide a solution or resolution

When handling negative reviews, offer a solution or resolution to address the customer’s concerns whenever possible. This might involve providing a refund, a replacement product or service, a discount on a future purchase or simply an explanation or clarification of the situation or product usage. 

Take the conversation offline

A strong strategy for handling negative online reviews, particularly in complicated situations, is to encourage the reviewer to contact you directly to discuss the issue further and resolve it privately. Provide contact information or invite them to reach out via email or phone to continue the conversation away from the public eye. 

Keep it brief and positive

Keep your response to negative reviews concise and focused on the main points. Avoid getting into lengthy explanations or arguments in your response. End on a positive note by thanking the reviewer for their feedback and sharing your commitment to improving their experience in the future. 

Follow up

After responding to a negative review, follow up with the customer to ensure that their concerns have been addressed satisfactorily. This might involve reaching out via email or phone to confirm that the issue has been resolved. 

Damage control

No brand wants to see a negative review. It’s disappointing to find out that a customer is unsatisfied. However, handling negative online reviews is part of doing business, and managing them with success is critical to your company’s online reputation. By following these strategies and best practices, you can effectively manage negative reviews, demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction and turn negative experiences into positive outcomes for your brand. 

Reach out to schedule a call with Beyond Fifteen today to learn how we can help your brand handle negative online reviews.

Connect with a Beyond Fifteen Marketing Specialist today!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.