Carissa Ellis
September 21, 2016
Business Law

Online ReviewIf you own a business you know that getting positive online reviews can easily encourage people to flock to your business. It is quite simple and fun to respond to these positive online reviews… and who doesn’t love to hear good things about themselves or their business!?

But what happens if your business gets a negative online review? How can your business correctly respond to this in a way that can turn around to benefit your business?

A 2015 study by Mitel, a marketing research company, found that 70% of Americans seek out others’ opinions online before making a purchase.

This makes it extremely important for businesses to understand how to properly respond to both positive & negative online reviews.

In this blog post we offer a step-by-step guide that will teach you how to respond to all types of online reviews especially negative online reviews.


Negative online Review

How to Respond to Negative Online Reviews

Why does knowing how to respond to negative online reviews matter?

No company or business is perfect so this is something that we all will have to deal with at one point or another. As unpleasant as negative reviews are they can be used to your advantage if they are surrounded with sufficient amount of positive feedback.

According to a Retail Consumer Report, when retailers took the time to respond to negative feedback:

  • 34% of reviewers deleted their negative reviews
  • 33% of reviewers turned around and posted a positive review
  • 18% of reviewers became a loyal customer and brought more

Since there are clear advantages that come from businesses responding properly to negative reviews, let’s dive into the step-by-step guide on how to respond.

Take Time To Relax

As a business owner, it is completely natural to feel some type of anger when you see negative comments towards something you put your heart and soul into.

But lashing out will not help, trust me. You will only have regret later on. The last thing you want to become is famous for lashing out at customers. Take for example Amy’s Baking Company’s online meltdown:



Prime example of someone reacting to reviews in the worst possible way. Watch how they become a #1 trending story because of their terrible attitude.

I believe they are no longer in business.

So, take time to cool down before you respond to a review.

Respond Quickly

After you have given yourself time to cool down, post a response as soon as possible. A quick response demonstrates how caring and engaged your business is. In addition,  it shows how your business solves problems.

Since response time is key it is important to have an active & efficient method to monitoring your online reputation. Google offers a simple & free option: Google Alerts. Here’s how to set up Google Alerts:

  • Go to
  • Add your business name to the Search Query field
  • Parse for result type, frequency and quantity
  • Enter your email address

Whenever content containing your business name is created you will get an email.

Read the Review Carefully

Although you should respond quickly make sure you give yourself enough time to read the review carefully and make sure you understand the points the reviewer is making. You will only further aggravate the unhappy customer or discourage potential customers from trying out your business. In the example below the manager’s response completely disregards the initial comment that the reviewer makes:

Not a Good Response to A Negative Online Reviews

Do Your Research

In addition, make sure you have done your research before responding. Below is an example of a company that did not do their research before responding, making them look unorganized and unprofessional:

Unprofessional Negative Online Reviews Response


Keep the Response Brief

The shorter your response is, the less likely it is that you will trigger additional negative feelings. A few sentences should be sufficient for most of your responses.

This will also encourage the reviewer to contact you directly to resolve the problem.

Thank Them & Genuinely Apologize

No matter what has worked in the past or how busy you are, never, ever copy and paste your responses! This will not help the situation.

Imagine getting a heartwarming card from your friend, only to discover she wrote the same thing in all of her friend’s cards. That’s what the reviewer will feel.

Instead treat each response with care. Start off the response by thanking them for taking the time to offer feedback and genuinely apologize. Make sure your response is sincere and not defensive.

Explain What You Are Doing to Make It Right

You can mention things like new policies, new technology, or additions to your staff. The point here is to give specific details to the issues mentioned and tell them what you are doing to make sure this will never happen again.

Make It Right

Let the reviewer know that you are committed to making this right. Give them your name along with an email address or phone number and invite them to contact you offline. Keeping in mind, making it right may mean a full refund or giving them an opportunity to experience your product or service on the house.

While you can’t make a negative review go away completely you can encourage people who had a great experience to leave a review. To do so is simple, just ask.
But wait that’s not all..what about fake negative reviews?


Fake Negative Reviews

It’s really unfortunate but there are many cases where businesses end up receiving completely fake negative reviews. These fake negative reviews may be made by a competitor, disgruntled employee, an angry customer, or someone else entirely.  All designed to harm your reputation.

Here is how you can handle these reviews:

Terms of Service Violations

Every review site has a set of Terms of Service that lists all the things they allow and do not allow in their reviews. Many review sites have policies that will allow you to remove fake reviews, provided you have sufficient evidence to back up your claim.

Usually they have a button located near the review that lets you report the review right on that same screen. If you have any trouble finding where to report the review, contact the site’s webmaster. Usually the contact information is located on the bottom of the site’s homepage. Please keep in mind that you may not get the review removed. Even if you don’t, it is worth a try.

Respond as Though the Review is Real

If you weren’t able to get the review removed, consider this option. Keep the response brief and respectful but express the fact that the reviewer’s comments are not accurate. Post proof in a way that seems factual and not emotional. Do not be afraid to defend yourself against bogus reviews.

Take Legal Action

This option isn’t the answer in all cases. However, if you believe a fake review is against any Federal or State laws contact an attorney to discuss what type of options you may have.

Positive Online Review

How to Respond to Positive Online Reviews

On the opposite side of the spectrum, positive online reviews provide a great opportunity to show your voice and speak to potential/current customers.  It is important that the public sees how you respond to both negative and positive online reviews.

Here is how to respond to positive reviews:

Thank the Customer

Whether it be for their time writing the review or just visiting your business you want to say thank you and address him/her by name.

Highlight the Positive Comments

Reiterate the compliments the reviewer made. This is also a great opportunity to do some highlighting of your own. Whether that is highlighting a special or just talk about how great your business is. You want to make sure to highlight something that will catch potential customers’ eyes.

Invite the Customer to Do Something

Whether it’s coming back to your business or spreading the word, it is important for a business owner to take the time to address each review. Since so many consumers use the opinion of other’s to help decide where they spend their money it is important to be active & efficient on review sites.

When it comes to negative reviews, if you can handle it the right way, you not only save that relationship with that customer but you can also look very conscious in front of other potential customers.

Hopefully this guide can answer any questions you may have when it comes to responding to reviews.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us, our Green Bay Business Attorneys are available to help with any concerns you may have.


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