I Got a Negative Review, What Should I Do?

As business owners, we all strive to provide good products, services, or experiences. In an ideal world, every customer and client we serve would leave us a glowing review.

Unfortunately, there are times when someone has a less than ideal experience when dealing with our brand. In some cases, they may end up writing a negative review. When that happens, it’s important to handle it appropriately. But what is the best way to handle negative reviews? That’s what we’ll discuss in this article.

Does it even matter?

First, let’s address the burning question: are reviews really that important? To put it simply, yes, reviews matter. Your online reputation can greatly influence someone’s likelihood of engaging with you and buying from you.

Here’s an example to illustrate the point. When I’m speaking about online reviews at events, conferences or webinars, I like to show two slides… first I’ll ask which one would you buy?

Initially, you might decide to purchase based on appearance and price. But then, let’s say I show you the same picture with their reviews added. Then, everyone chooses product A, even though it’s more expensive or they might have initially liked the look of Product B.

If that’s not enough, consider the following statistic. Whitespark recently released their 2021 Local Search Ranking Factors survey results. Between Google Business Profile and Reviews, they accounted for 53% of factors that matter.

In other words, it’s important to minimize negative reviews and handle them well when you do get one. Here’s what works best:

Reply publicly

One of the worst things you can do is leave a negative review without a reply. Not replying implies that you don’t read your online reviews and don’t really care about what your customers and clients think. This damages your reputation even more so the first thing you should do is reply publicly to your negative reviews.

This allows anyone who reads the negative review to see your reply. It also tells them that you care about the experience your customers have and work hard on acknowledging and resolving any potential issues.

Acknowledge the issue

Next, make sure that your reply acknowledges where you (or your team, product, service, or experience) may have fallen short. Whether subjective in nature or not, just acknowledge how they are feeling or what happened.

It’s important not to get defensive or answer in an aggressive manner. This can only add more fuel to the fire and potentially enrage your customer even more. Instead, remain calm and try to be as objective as possible.

Showing them that you’re willing to accept their point of view can go a long way towards changing their perception of your business. They may even be more willing to give you a second chance.


Once you’ve acknowledged their experience, take a deep breath or two and prepare to issue an apology. Most importantly, be sincere about it. This may be hard to do but it shows other potential customers that you do aim to provide the best possible customer experience.

Re-state your value(s)

Once you’ve written an apology, it’s a good idea to restate your brand values. Chances are, whatever they are complaining about may not exactly be in line with your values. Re-stating the values shows them that this is not the usual way your company operates.

Here’s how the apology along with re-stating your values might look like:

“We’re sincerely sorry that our service/product was not satisfactory for you. While we strive to provide our customers with the best possible experience and have high standards for our products, mistakes do happen. We’re deeply concerned that our standards were not met in your customer experience. Your satisfaction matters to us so rest assured we will take appropriate measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Provide an explanation if necessary

In some cases, the negative review may be a result of poor quality of materials used, slow delivery times, or various technical issues. In that case, you might want to provide your customer with an explanation of where things went wrong. This also shows the human side behind your business.

Simply explain what went wrong, apologize, and offer an alternative solution to fix the problem.

Offer to resolve offline

So, you’ve acknowledged their review, you’ve added your response, and you’ve apologized. Now it’s time to move the conversation offline. Tell them to email you, or call or message you. This will depend on where the review was posted as well as the way you typically communicate with your customers and visitors.

It’s a good idea to state the email they can use or leave the customer service representative’s name, email, and phone number in your response to their review. Don’t make them hunt for the information as that may annoy them even more.

It’s important to mention that you shouldn’t ask them to take the negative review down, no matter how tempted you might be. Your customers want to feel heard so don’t resort to doing anything that might make them feel forced to do anything.

What to do now?

After you’ve replied to a negative review (or if you just want to improve your online reviews), read our blog post: How to 10x Your Online Reviews (How We Did it and Why You Should Too)

Also, consider using a Review Funnel to streamline and automate the process of collecting reviews for your business.

What’s Next?

If you need help managing your online reputation or getting more positive reviews, contact us today, and let’s chat about your options.

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About Us

Johnny Flash Productions

Johnny Flash Productions is a creative agency based outside of Washington D.C. that focuses on digital strategy, web design and development, graphic design and event production that helps businesses get better results from their marketing.