How To Deal With A Negative Review

rhd Ranch House Journal, RHD Blog

By Ashley Grant, CMO, Ranch House Designs

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2018 Ranch House Journal.

I was talking with a client the other day about how their business could really benefit from a Facebook page, and I was shocked when they said, “We have wanted to do Facebook marketing for a while, but the possibility of people leaving a negative review is what is holding us back.”

And that client is not alone. I have heard so many people say they are terrified of getting a 1 star review from some internet troll, and having that ruin the reputation of their business.

As someone who loves to read reviews, I’m here to tell you that there are much worse things than a bad review on the internet, and as long as those negative reviews are handled properly, your business will survive!

Here are some Do’s and Don’ts on how to handle a bad review:

1. DON’T Get Emotional

Usually you are not expecting to see a negative review pop up in your Facebook notifications. It can take you by surprise, and make you feel angry and upset, especially when the review is over-exaggerated or has false claims. Breathe. Take 30 minutes to an hour to process what was written in the review. Our society has an unfortunate subculture of people who feel powerful by writing negative reviews on the internet. Understand that you as the business owner now control how the situation is handled from here.

2. DO Respond To The Review

Once you’ve taken some time to put all emotions aside, work on writing a response to the review. I recommend writing a personal and original response to each negative review, rather than a canned response. Your response should include an apology, explain or elaborate on their issue, mention what action you are taking to improve or make things right for them, close with a positive note regarding your business. You may also want to include an invitation for the reviewer to contact you personally, like “Please feel free to call or email me at [insert contact info here] so I can help resolve your issue”. I recommend writing out your response and then emailing it to a trusted friend or co-worker to review before posting it online. The goal is to be polite, and show empathy. No business owner wants to appear like they can’t handle negative feedback, or sound like they are blaming the customer.

3. DON’T Wait Too Long To Respond

We recommend responding to any negative review within 24 hours of it being posted. That way you have time to gather your thoughts, but also appear to take their feedback seriously. Most customers who complain just want to be heard and acknowledged. When you apologize, and explain the issue, you might even change their negative experience into a positive one. Plus this also shows potential customers who are reading reviews, during the pre-purchase research phase, that you take customer service seriously!

4. DO Realize That Most People Are Rational

The majority of people can recognize a negative review where someone just has an axe to grind, and understand that the 1-star rating on that review may not be an accurate reflection of the business. Before going on my honeymoon, I narrowed our destination down to 3 resorts, and actually read through all of the 1-start reviews first. The resort we ended up going to actually had 520 1-star reviews, but the majority of those bad reviews were clearly people who just wanted to complain. And the management responded personally to every bad review, and did their best to make things right.

5. Lastly, DON’T Be Afraid of Reviews, and DO Use Reviews As A Learning Experience

Online reviews can both help and harm your business, and every successful business is bound to run into a few negative reviews. Don’t be afraid of the possibility of receiving a negative review. After you have responded to the reviewer both on social media, and personally over email, it is time to look at the issue internally. If you are consistently receiving negative reviews regarding one aspect of your business, then you need to work with your team to make a change for the better. Many times business owners don’t recognize there is a problem until a bad review brings the issue to your attention!


Looking for a place to start with your own marketing? Check out The Little Blue Book on Advertising!