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How to Respond to Negative Reviews and Get Some Marketing to Boot

Managing Negative Reviews

Online reviews are critical to the success of a local business, with 93% of consumers saying online reviews impact their purchasing decisions, and that the minimum rating they’ll engage with is 3.3 stars (Podium). Responding to online reviews is another critical piece in not only building a positive online presence, but also in encouraging other consumers to leave their feedback and engage with your business.

How does a business respond to online reviews? Do negative online reviews need to be responded to at all? How can I get some marketing out of negative reviews? All these questions and more are covered here so you can leverage your online reputation to grow your business.

Review response is a service that Got Customers Online, (GCO) offers businesses, as their online reputation is a valuable aspect of marketing. Having a strong reputation is a cornerstone of any business’ digital presence, and helping businesses navigate the complex waters of reputation and online reviews is but one of the services we offer. We’ll cover this in more detail below.

Negative reviews can be crippling to a local business—especially if the business has few reviews to begin with. Even worse? Negative reviews that go unresponded to. Don’t let those online wounds fester! Dealing with negative reviews doesn’t have to be hard, and it can even be leveraged as a marketing and branding opportunity.

Note: Managing negative reviews for businesses is but one of the services you’ll find here at Got Customers Online (GCO). Access this service and many others inside your private dashboard. And with our Do It Yourself (DIY) services not only can you monitor reviews, but you can also reply to these reviews from the same location, all for free. Your welcome. 

Too busy to keep track of all the reviews pouring in and answer them? With our Do It With You (DIWY) or our Do it For You (DIFY) services, we take the burden off, so you can get back to what’s important, your business. Find out more here.

Why respond to a negative review?

Unfortunately, you can’t just ignore a bad review until it goes away.  In fact, ignoring an unpleasant review can make things worse!


  • You’re not just replying to just the one reviewer. You’re speaking to everyone who reads this review, including potential future customers.
  • Replying is your opportunity to make things right. If a customer brought a complaint to you in person, you would try to make it right. The same goes for online reviews—despite the impersonal nature of online reviews, it’s not over just yet. You can turn this thing around!
  • Replying shows other readers you are not shady or neglectful to feedback, and have taken steps to ensure this problem won’t happen to the next customer.

The best thing to do when you receive a bad review is react quickly and strategically. Here’s how your business should respond to negative reviews, and make the most out of a less-than-pleasant situation.

How to respond to a negative review (4 Steps)

Step 1: Apologize and sympathize in your response to the negative review.

Acknowledge the customer’s concerns. Even if they are unfounded, show sympathy that they had a bad experience. “I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience.” Often when a customer is reaching out to post a negative review it’s because they didn’t reach the outcome they were hoping for when they first began their relationship with the business. Whether the customer found a hair in their spaghetti, experienced a bad interaction with a staff member or reality didn’t quite match up with the marketing images they browsed in advance online. It’s your job as a responder to acknowledge that something did not go well, and you are jumping in to help resolve their issues. 

Step 2: Insert a little marketing in your response to the bad review.

Explain what your customers usually experience. “We’re normally known for our exceptional attention to detail, and we regret that we missed the mark.” Not only will this signal to other consumers who may read the review, that the poster’s experience is out of the norm, this type of response could create an opening to bring that customer back and have them experience what it’s like to interact with the brand on a more positive note.

Step 3: Move the conversation offline.

Provide contact info with someone at the business so they can discuss the problem in person. “My name is [name] and I am the [Owner / Manager]. If you’d like to discuss this further, please contact me at [phone number / email].” By moving the resolution offline, and out of the public eye you can reach a resolution privately without all of the business’s dirty laundry being aired out publicly for all to read. You will also have the opportunity once the complaint is resolved to ask that the customer remove the negative review all together. By requesting the negative review be removed, you improve your overall review score and eliminate the chance that a new potential customer will come across the remarks and decide not to purchase with the business because of it. 

Step 4: Keep your response simple, short and sweet.

When responding to a a bad review don’t go into too much detail or ask any questions. This will prevent saying something that might cause the upset customer to add more negative feedback by replying to the review. Three sentences for your whole reply is a good rule of thumb.


Warning: Do Not include the business name or relevant search keywords.

You don’t want this review showing up in search results!


Negative review response example

So what does a good negative review response look like in action? Check it out!

Here, this dealership is handling this scathing review the best way possible.




The power of negative review response

The best thing you can hope for when responding to negative reviews is to have that unhappy consumer revise their initial review when their complaint is dealt with.

Below, a customer updated his review to 4-stars after the general sales manager contacted him and resolved the problem.


That just goes to show that you should never ignore a negative review—as each one presents a possibility for not only some good brand marketing, but also presents an opportunity for receiving more positive feedback after the customer’s issues are resolved!

Next Blog: How to respond to positive reviews in specific industrials

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