How To Handle Negative Reviews for Your Business.

Did you know the average consumer will read 10 reviews before deciding whether or not to trust that business? To take it one step further, 90% of those people will read responses from the business owner. 

Check out this study by BrightLocal for more review statistics. 

I’ve worked with local and small business owners for nearly 10 years and I know how much local business owners value their reputation online. As they should, reputation is key to gaining more business but local and small business owners work extra hard to provide great service and to gain reviews. In my opinion, local business owners work harder than big-box companies to gain positive reviews online. 

When a negative review strikes, the business owner is normally upset and deflated. Imagine, working so hard to provide great service and then boom – 2 stars on Google. Have no fear, business owner. Let’s respond to this pesky negative review!

Before I give you my framework on how to respond to negative reviews online, I want to over the nuances of the 3 most popular platforms for reviews: Google, Facebook and Yelp:

  •  Google: the admin of the Google listing will get an email alert and an alert on Google My Business (GMB). The admin can respond to the review on behalf of the business and the person who left the review will get a notification that the business owner responded. If the person edits or changes their review, Google (at this time) will not send out a notification. Additionally, the conversation cannot continue after the review is left – meaning there will not be a thread.
  • Facebook: the admin of the Facebook account will get an alert that someone left a review (or recommendation as they call it) on the page. The admin can then respond to the recommendation and the person who left the review will get an alert. We have to be careful with Facebook because a conversation thread and continue which can create a ‘keyboard warrior’ type of situation. 
  • Yelp: the admin of the Yelp listing will get an alert either via email or via the app. The admin can send ONE direct message to the person who left the review (no more messages can be sent unless the person responds). I recommend sending a message as quickly as possible to increase the chances of resolving the issue. Then, the admin can respond to the review directly on the listing and the person who left the review will get an alert. Admins do get alerts when reviews have been changed or edited. 

How to handle negative reviews online:

  1. Be kind – no matter what
  2. Respond for the people reading the review and to the person who left the review
  3. Address the person
  4. Address the issue
  5. Provide a point of contact to resolve the issue 
  6. Ask for a second chance
One of the local business owners I work with received a negative review about a rude store clerk and the fact that he (the customer) was cut in line and ignored when he wanted to purchase his product. The owner of the business and I reviewed the tapes and the customer’s story didn’t align with the review he wrote. Of course, the owner was very upset and wanted to respond to the review. Here is how we handled the review: 
Hi Mr. Dukes, thank you for taking the time to visit us and we’re very sorry the experience did not live up to your expectations. We would like to give you a discount on our moonshine if you wish to visit us again. Please ask for Doug. Thank you and please stay well during this time.
Need help responding to a negative review? Reach out to me

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