Our 10 tips for managing negative online reviews

Negative reviews should be seen as a second chance to impress your customers. A chance to win them over with excellent service and customer satisfaction. The following steps will show you how to handle, respond and fix any negative reviews left by dissatisfied consumers.

It’s understandable that after all your hard work and dedication, you’d expect every customer to appreciate your product or service, but that’s not always the reality.

In today’s digital age, consumer opinions live forever, in the form of online reviews.

These comments are generally left on popular sites like Amazon customer reviews, Trustpilot, TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc.  Plus, lately, more people are writing reviews on a variety of social media platforms including: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Businesses alike can’t get away from the opinions of their customers, but who would want to? Given that more than 50% of shoppers consider online comments before purchasing a product.

Because of figures like that, managing your perception online is crucial. You are going to have to learn to manage those reviews and our negative reviews strategy guide can show you how.

We are going to show you how to transform the challenge of a negative review into a positive opportunity for your business. Here are our ten steps to effectively respond to negative reviews:


  1. Respond to negative reviews as soon as you can

Response time is another one of those indicators that customers are beginning to value more than ever.

Reply ASAP because:

  • The longer it takes you to reply, the more difficult it could become to reverse the opinion of an unhappy customer.
  • If it takes you a week to respond to an online complaint, your audience will assume they’ll be treated similarly. So be sure to keep those response times down and reply as soon as you can.


  1. Don’t ignore or delete negative reviews

As much as we’d all like to be perfect, the reality is that nobody is, and so no company can expect to be either.

We have observed that deleting negative reviews in favour of the ideal 5-star rating will raise more doubts than customer confidence.

Despite your best intentions, people understand things to go wrong.  Your customers only want to be assured that if there is a problem, you will be ready to address the concern.

Start looking at negative reviews as a positive opportunity:

  • To show your level of expertise
  • To show your sense of urgency when it comes to fixing any problems.
  • To convert a dissatisfied customer into a brand promoter (this writer changed his opinion of Apple when the company replaced his out-of-warranty-but-broken iPod, after a complaint)

Go above and beyond to make things right. Do ignore negative reviews, otherwise, you may be losing out on a loyal customer.

Allowing but thoroughly addressing negative reviews is the authentic way to do business.


  1. Address fake reviews with tact

There are generally three sources of fake reviews:

  • Trolls: yes, believe it or not, there are people who prefer to spend their time posting inflammatory comments on the internet – for no justifiable reason at all. You can generally remove these reviews, and you ought to report them whenever possible.
  • Disgruntled employees: some ex-employees may attempt to sabotage former employers because they feel aggrieved.
  • Competition: your competition may view negative reviews as a way to slow down or halt your success.

Here are some most useful tips we have collected, for managing these sorts of reviews.

As a passionate business owner, you will develop a knack for sniffing out these frustrating reviews. Remember to always be professional and not personal.

When faced with a fake review, that you can’t get easily removed, react to it as you would if it were real. See it as a chance to show the professionalism of your brand.

Kindly greet the customer. Since the review is fake, you’ll have no registered invoice or evidence of transactions conducted between their party and your company – make this clear them and everyone else.

And especially when reviews are fake, you’ll find gaping holes in the story being told. Calmly call out these gaps in your response – handle fake with finesse.

For example, “we are sorry to hear about your experience, but after looking, we have found we have never carried the brand of xyz product you mention. Nor do we deliver outside of the UK is it possible that you have reviewed the wrong company? Please let us know as we’d still be happy to help.”

What not to do:

Do not confront fake reviews by branding them with “Fake review! Fake review!”

Simply because you say, “This review is fake.” doesn’t mean your audience is going to believe it. You’ll most likely achieve the exact opposite of your intentions. Be calm and be professional.


  1. Apologize & address the problem

Even if you don’t believe your company has done anything wrong, it’s always good to respond to negative reviews by beginning with a polite greeting and a sincere apology.

After all, you are speaking to a person who has happily chosen your product/service over someone else’s. If they are taking the time to write a negative review, the least you can do is reply courteously.

Also, it is possible that reviewer may have misused your product leading to the problem at hand but, never blame the customer!

By replying to customer respectfully online, you show your brand is willing to accept errors and fix mistakes.


  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for more information

In times of anger and frustration, some customers may forget to leave you the necessary information you need to solve their issue. By politely requesting the essential details in addition to your apology, you display a committed willingness to set things straight.


  1. Be honest and offer an incentive when possible

Even the most efficient businesses will admit an error every now and again, there is nothing wrong with that. Your real test as a business is the attitude you adopt when an oversight leads to a customer’s dissatisfaction.

You only really have one option; tell the truth.

We strive on addressing reviews with honesty. If we make a mistake, we own up to it. And if there is something we can provide to help ease the situation, then we offer an incentive.

You always have to remember that a customer can dislike you and never let you know about their feelings. That’s a customer who you have likely lost forever.

But, if you are faced with a customer who takes the time to voice their frustrations, that person is offering you the opportunity to regain their business.

Tell the truth. Just as it does in everyday life, honesty in business cultivates trust. With enough customers trusting you, your brand will naturally improve its reputation.


  1. Communicate privately if exposing an error will cause more harm than good

Even though we always stand on the side of transparency and honesty, some errors don’t need to be broadcasted to the entire world. Some mistakes can cost your business in the future, and so need to be handled in the correct way.

Publicly state that you are looking into the matter and then privately, through email, phone, or letter discuss the problem with the customer further to reach a conclusion.


  1. If you can explain, do so

Often lost amidst being polite, professional, urgent etc, is the offering of an explanation. At times you may diffuse the stress of a customer by explaining what went wrong. Don’t beat around the bush. Get to the point and set the customer at ease.


  1. Remain level-headed at all times

Your negative online review is not your opportunity to show off how tough you are. It certainly is not the time to finally stand up to online bullies. At Add People, any employees responding to reviews always remain level-headed.

No matter how rude you may perceive a customer to be, they still deserve your utmost respect. Just because a customer is getting heated or emotional, doesn’t mean you have to do the same.


  1. Follow up your responses to negative reviews

After you have politely responded to a negative review online, and after you have taken the time to resolve the issue, update the customer.

Briefly describe steps taken to address the concern.

This level of follow up is a reassuring indicator to future customers that your company isn’t one for idle promises. You say you are going to take care of a problem and you do.

Those in the middle of making a purchasing decision will appreciate your high level of care.

And if a resolution is taking a bit longer than you anticipated, send a private message reassuring the customer that their concern is still being addressed.

Follow these ten tips from Add People to address review issues that your company may be facing. What you deem as a problematic review may be an opportunity to show off your professionalism and service excellence.