How not to respond to negative online reviews

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Every business knows how important reputation is to its success. Now that online reviews are commonplace, even for B2B companies, it’s important to understand how to respond to reviews – particularly when they’re negative.

Negative reviews, whether on TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook or industry review sites, can be extremely damaging to your brand. However, the right response to a review can turn an unhappy customer into a brand advocate – just avoid these all too common methods of response…

Deleting them

If the review is left in a comment or post on your social media page, you can delete them. However, if you get caught out, the effects could be catastrophic. The same applies to reviews on Google, Facebook, and TripAdvisor where you can attempt to remove negative reviews by reporting them to the site. It’s not worth the risk.


When you read a negative review for the first time, you’ll probably be angry – particularly if there was a perfectly good excuse for the substandard service the customer or client received! However, responding to a review in this state is unlikely to go well – your emotions will come across in your response. Take some time to re-read the review and cool down before formulating a more measured response.


Using software to automatically respond to negative reviews, or copying and pasting a generic apology doesn’t quite cut it. Reviewers will become suspicious if you respond the same way each time, and it doesn’t reflect well on your company if you can’t even be bothered to personalise a response.

Ignoring them

Potential customers and clients will read negative reviews about your company. If they don’t see a response, they’ll wonder why. Was the complaint justified? Is there no-one monitoring online reviews? Are they unwilling to apologise? Don’t lose these valuable prospects – always respond to negative reviews.


You may disagree with the arguments a reviewer has made, but if you dismiss their concerns in your response, they’re not going to feel valued – and they won’t want to do business with you again. Ensure you give a full, proper apology and explain the reasons behind the poor service – but don’t frame them as excuses.

With the threat of legal action

Yes, some companies really have responded to negative reviews by threatening to sue either the reviewer or the website that hosts their review. You’re not only extremely unlikely to win a case, you’ll leave your company’s reputation in tatters. Avoid!

As a public argument

If you receive a response to your response, break the chain. You don’t need or want other visitors to the review site to read a long chain of messages that will no doubt quickly devolve into a petty squabble. After (or within) your first response, share other contact details such as an email address or phone number so that you can resolve the matter privately.


Reading negative reviews is never pleasant for a business owner, but a heated, rushed response will only cause more damage. Instead, provide personalised, reasoned responses for a chance to win your doubters over and emerge with your reputation intact.

Communication is just one small part of your company’s overarching marketing strategy. If you want a marketing strategy that generates results, speak to the experts at Built for Marketing.