How to Handle Negative Reviews Online

You’ve got a small business and are ready to crush it online. You care about your reputation in real life, so you might as well be caring about it online, too. Sometimes people will leave reviews of your business online. Reviews have their place in the world. I know sometimes they’re negative and it’s frustrating, but they are a necessary part of life, and frankly, they’re actually good for your business. I’m going to show you how to harness a negative review and turn it into a positive scenario for your business.

So here’s how you do it.

  1. You respond, then
  2. You invite, and then
  3. You ignore.

Let me break that down.


When someone leaves you a negative review, you need to respond! You need to realize you are not actually responding to this particular person… The whole point of this response is to show everyone ELSE how you do business.

What kind of person, what kind of business you are. It proves that you have compassion or you can understand what it’s like to be in your customer’s shoes, which helps show empathy. These are all great things!

Pro Tip: In your response, you don’t have to admit that you’ve done anything wrong.

You just want to convey that you’re listening, so that’s where the invite comes in.


If you respond to a negative review and then the person responds to your response, and this is becoming a conversation online, you need to invite that customer to talk to you elsewhere. So you give them a phone number, an email address, some kind of invitation to speak privately because frankly, you don’t need to be hashing your dirty laundry for everybody to see because you’re talking to everyone else.


If the customer doesn’t accept your invitation to speak privately and keeps bashing you publicly in the thread, then you do the third step, which is to ignore.

Most of your customers are going to be savvy enough to see a jerk for what they are: a jerk. If the person is just being a combative and is talking trash about your business, a thoughtful customer is going to see that you’ve attempted to solve the customer’s problem and you’re being the bigger person.

You’re going to win points with the other people reading this review. The negative reviewer is going to look like a loser and everybody will see it. 

*Note an exception:  The friends of this crazy reviewer will always back them up, even if they sound like wackos.  So be aware of that.  Unreasonable people tend to like other unreasonable people.



So the next time you get a negative review and you feel the anger rising up, you now have a process to put all of those reviews through.

  1. First, respond and respond with a calm, professional demeanor.
  2. Second, Invite the person to talk to you privately, and if they stay negative,
  3. Finally, ignore them. Let everybody else see that they’re a jerk.

After all: “Haters ‘gonna hate!”

Shameless plug:

So you’re a small business owner and you’re paying attention to your online reputation, that is fantastic. To me, that’s a sign that you realize how important an online presence is for your business.

If you think you’re ready for some marketing assistance, to help bring new customers to you online, then contact us today. We would love to help you and your small business.

Click the button below to schedule an appointment with Steven.