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A Simple Guide to Dealing with Negative Online Reviews and Comments for Businesses

Don’t be afraid of getting bad reviews, there are ways to handle it delicately and in a nuanced manner. Here’s a simplified guide to handling bad online reviews got starters.

I am a regular Google Review contributor, I don’t hesitate to give my Grab/Uber drivers four to five stars every time I complete the ride, I make an effort to provide feedback to the food delivery services that I use, and if I have something to add, I’ll say something about:

  • Mobile apps or games on Google Play
  • Amazon or GoodReads for book reviews
  • Products purchased from online sites
  • Provide reviews about books, TV series, movies, music that I entertained me
  • Ride-sharing apps
  • Facebook groups
  • Instagram pictures
  • Restaurants I’ve been to
  • Google images

And I am a forty-something user of the internet. Can you imagine the length people in their twenties, essentially those who were born with the Internet as their pacifiers, will go to if they have had a bad experience with a business?

My bar is very low: I try NOT to provide negative comments only veer towards positive ones. I want to help people discover new things.

There’s, however, a whole army of people out there who are waiting for your product/service/company to screw up. Say what you will but this is the real #internet world we live in today.

I’ve also recently started working with several people on their eCommerce sites, writing their products pages and amping up their SEO and writeups. Even as we create their social media profiles and pages, there’s a dark question lurking behind in our heads.

Shit, we better be prepared for bad reviews

Identify potential risks, develop plans and prepare for their organization to face a crisis

There’s time to repair a bad online reputation

We’re pretty much closing in on our 2019 New Year resolutions and if you’re still not monitoring and are not sure how to go about dealing with bad reviews online, it’s time to work on your a script or protocol to help repair your reputation online if/when it happens.

A local survey conducted by Local Consumer Review Survey found that more than half of consumers use the Internet to find products and services. Even when they’re standing right in front of the restaurant’s doorstep, chances are, they’re hitting Google with a quick search to see what other people are saying about it before entering.

The result of the survey found that 57% of those consumers will only use the business if it has 4 or more stars. That’s a very narrow margin for mistakes!

The good news is that 40% of those who read the online reviews will only take into account the latest or recent reviews – approximately 2 weeks – from the date of their search. What this means for businesses is that there’s time for you to repair the damage before it becomes encapsulated as your company’s history of continuous bad repute.

Catch them if you can

I scour the Internet every day for new stuff – anything from apps, games, news of company mergers, Google updates, creative advertisements, success stories, inspiration quotes, tweets from my favorite authors and online personalities, etc. On top of marketing new content on websites, blogs, and eCommerce sites, I do quite a bit of online prowling #stalkermode.

So, recently, I posted a tweet about Canva, an online graphic design app that is popularly used to create images, slideshows, business cards, letterheads, presentations, graphics for social media like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. What I like about the app is that it’s pretty much free to use, easy to navigate, and has millions of sources with instantly drag and drop features.

I did not post anything negative about Canva but I did comment about Made (another app that I’ve never even heard of before this) teaming up with Unsplash, a popular free image site that just about everyone I know is using. 

This is the perfect example of pull marketing, or compassionate and conscientious marketing that I think will be taking over the world in the next decade or so.

The team behind another up-and-coming similar graphic design and image-creation app got in touch with me and asked me a very simple question: Would you like to have a look at our app too? (Why, actually, yes, I would. I’ve responded to them and they’re giving me a chance to review their Premium version)

Imagine if I was saying something bad about Canva and someone reached out to me with an alternative like that.

The comment was caught using Twitter hashtag so if you’re using twitter, the hashtag feature (including Instagram) is the way to go. You can also go to Google Review site to look up competitors, perform searches for your brand, products, company name, etc.

Don’t be afraid, build that online profile

First of all, do a little research and find out where your consumers are and what platform is most popular with them. List down the top 5 online social media platforms they are using (or apps) and get on it!

Start listing your business there, write up about it, post links, images, address, business hours, contact info, email, website links, related businesses and products/services and also don’t forget to add those social media links into your websites and blogs.

And many forget this but if you’re a business or a retail outlet, let Google know that you’re a real business by claiming your Google My Business profile.

Responding to reviews

Responding to good reviews is the easy part. Say ‘thank you for choosing our business‘, ‘we appreciate your feedback‘ (be genuine about this because good people actually take the few minutes to think about a few good things to say about your business with nothing to benefit from it), and ‘please reach out if you have further questions.’

It’s a standard reply but despite knowing so, it will make the reviewer smile a little.

Responding to negative reviews require something completely different. These are the things you need to do when dealing with negative online reviews:

  • Leave self-defense at the door
  • No ego
  • Thank them for providing the review (because it ALSO takes time and effort)
  • Be willing to find out what went wrong and listen
  • Be objective about the fact that something could actually have gone wrong somewhere. Assuming you shipped something out to your customers, it IS possible for them to receive it broken, dented, or not have received it at all. So, get the whole story and investigate
  • Leave your emotions at the door and even if they get rude, always remember to take the high road and tell them you understand what they’re feeling and you’ll do your best to help
  • Remember: All your other customers or potential customers are watching
  • Take responsibility and be in charge

What I would do is to get on Tripadvisor, Amazon, or Yelp and read as many comments from the businesses themselves. Have a look at nuanced and professional responses provided by legitimately good businesses whose reputation could have been forever tainted by one smudged coffee table in one corner of one room in their entire massive hotel, and then copy and paste their responses.

Based on their responses, you should be able to edit and formulate your own responses to negative online reviews. Here’s’s simple guide to dealing with negative feedback.

Offer your agitated customer something to appease them

Some might argue this to be a futile effort but whenever Dominos is late and I feel like throwing the pizza back into their faces, that little coupon that says ‘We’re sorry we’re late. Here’s a free personal pizza for your next order‘ that stops me in my track.

So, if there’s a negative review, get off your butt and replace the product, offer a coupon, send a free gift, or just get someone to call them on their phone so that they can get their frustrations off their chests.

I worked in customer service in a mobile phone repair shop when I was way younger and my job then was to apologize profusely to every irritated customer (who can blame them? They’ve paid for a phone that didn’t work or have failed them) and pound down the doors of our engineers smoking in the back room to get them to fix the damn thing.

After months of going to work being told I was a worthless piece of S-t working for a s-th-le company, I finally understood my job – to listen. Most people there wanted to tell their stories to the people who have caused them hurt. They then want to know something was being done, that they were being taken seriously.

You can find out more about how to deal with negative online comments in this article by Thrive Agency.

Ask for a re-review

If you think your customer service or online team has done a good job at handling the monumental task, reach out to the customer and ask for an edited review. This is so much more valuable than you can ever imagine!

Turning a dissatisfied customer around is no mean feat! If your team manages to do this, ask for a reconsideration of that negative review. Do you know how many people in customer service who actually cry into their pillows every night before they sleep because they’ve been scolded, berated, shouted at, and gone through pulse-racing situations all-day-long?

Give them the credit, please. #speakingfromexperience #lol


In all honesty, the above is a simplified version of a very complex solution. Telemarketing companies can tell you about the scripts (well, they’re computerized now so….) and training their staff has to go through every day just to deal with possibly irate people?

But I think if you start with the above measures, you’ll soon develop your own method of handling these unfortunate online situations.

A gentle reminder: it will take every ounce of your resolve not to retaliate when someone is cussing you out through no fault of your own but your self-restraint will serve you well. Say, ‘I understand‘ and slowly move on and ask questions. They’re dying to tell you their stories and then quickly provide them with possible solutions. 

Hootsuite also published an article on what Facebook reactions (those emojis) mean and it will shed light on its core design and what it is meant to do.

Credit: Featured image credit – You X Ventures on Unsplash

Well, that above, is the most recent willing review I’ve posted on Instagram. If you’re there too, follow me up and I’ll try to do the same.

In the meantime, if you see grammatical errors or think that I’ve stepped on some toes, please feel free to drop me a line and let me know. I’ll address them as soon as I can!

Published by Marsha Maung

I am a freelance writer, copywriter, blogger, social media and online advertising consultant. On the other side of my Universe is a life of being a mother to 2 boys who are always ravenous or mean to each other. They love each other, but if I say that, they'll kill each other. I have been in the internet world since 2000 when I started off with a couple of dot-bombs but they've served me well. Right now, I primarily write for blogs and learning heaps about the ever-evolving world of social media and search engine marketing. Hit me up and we can learn together! Life is better together.

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