How to manage and respond to online reviews

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Whether you check your business’s online reviews daily or haven’t even bothered to claim your Google listing, one thing is for sure - potential customers are reading what others are saying about your business online. The truth is, 57 percent of the consumers will only use a business if it has four or more stars, which means that positive reviews are a powerful way to drive customers and clients to your business. 

All businesses make mistakes: a package fails to arrive on time, a restaurant serves you the wrong dish, or someone in the staff is perceived as rude or ignorant. Whether your negative reviews are well-deserved or unfair is slightly beside the point: your online reputation suffers either way. And while you cannot control a person’s review, you can control how to respond. 

So, how can we get a customer to edit a negative review? 

Your company wakes up with a negative review - and the possibility of a permanently lost customer. Marketing wisdom tells us that it’s more costly to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one happy. The following stats tells the story of why you want to do all you can to get the customer to edit a bad review:

  • 73.8 percent of customers are either likely or extremely likely to continue doing business with a brand that resolves their complaints. — GatherUp

  • 79% of U.S. adult Internet users check online reviews before they make a purchase or visit a business. — YouGov

Worst of all, the review only tells one side of the story, leaving you, the (hopefully) innocent business owner, to deal with the fallout. The best you can do is to handle these negative reviews by addressing them head-on. Doing so may also help assure potential customers that the negative thing they’ve read about online is something that doesn’t happen often. And even better, the chance that the customer transform their negative review into a positive one is considerably bigger, this happens more often than one would think. 

An example of a good response to a negative review

An example of a good response to a negative review

In the example above, we can see that the owner respond according to the overall pattern of negative reviews being transformed into positive ones:

Reach - The customer reaches out with their negative experience on review platforms such as Google, Yelp or Tripadvisor.

Remedy - Some type of fix occurs, either from intervention on the part of the brand, a second positive experience outweighing an initial negative one, or maybe the consumer self-correcting their own misunderstanding.

Repair - As a result of the remedy, the unhappy customer is repaired to a happy one. Hopefully, ready to trust the brand for future transactions, and the reputation of the brand is restored by an edited review reflecting better satisfaction.

In the example above, we can’t see the outcome of the owners reply. But the owner provided a high level of professionalism online which hopefully results in them getting their trust back. And by responding to this review, the owner show other potential customers that they are willing to address and resolve concerns.


An initial negative review doesn't have to be set in stone. The industry term “negative” reviews can be misleading, causing unnecessary fear for local brands and their marketers. Instead, we should see it as “reviews-in-progress”. So, instead of seeing a “negative” reviews as the end of your local business - face the reality. Someone trusted your business and was disappointed. Now it’s your time to earn that trust back.

How to respond to negative reviews:

√ Apologize


√ Offer an explanation

√ Provide an immediate resolution

√ Don’t follow a script - be personal in your response

And remember!
Once you dealt with the situation appropriately, use negative reviews as a learning experience! If you consistently receive negative reviews of some sort - something’s wrong. Consider it free market research!


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