Turning That Frown Upside Down: How to Handle Negative Reviews Online

By Tim Kane

In recent weeks, we’ve received a lot of questions from Client Managers, asking for advice on what to do when their clients receive negative reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook or other review sites.


Should they ignore them? Delete them? Argue with them? The answer, in a word, is no.


First of all, the best way to inoculate yourself against bad reviews is to start generating good ones. A few best practices:


Proactively request feedback. If you want a good review, you have to ask for it. There are several ways to do this, from simply emailing every customer requesting feedback, to subscribing to an automated platform that will text your customers. More on that below.


Respond to every review.  A prompt response, whether it’s a follow-up comment or direct contact through customer service, will go a long way toward mitigating reputational damage or additional bad reviews. To streamline the process, we suggest pre-crafting an arsenal of responses that you can quickly customize.


Maintain a high frequency of reviews. The recency, frequency, and quantity of your reviews have a direct impact on your search ranking. And when customers see a lot of reviews coming in on a regular basis, it reinforces the appearance that your business is popular, and instills trust with potential customers.


Authenticity is everything. Generating fake positive reviews is a guaranteed way to get the citizens of the web to turn on you. It might seem like an easy, quick way to counteract negative reviews, but companies that go this route are invariably outed, either by customers, the media or the search engines themselves.


So what should you do if your client receives a negative review?


  1. Do not ignore or delete it. Ignoring them implies that you don’t care; deleting them implies that your customers don’t matter to you. Or that you’ve got something to hide.
  2. Take the conversation off the public wall. Send the customer a direct message. Invite them to resolve the dispute via a private conversation. In extreme cases, it might be wise to have a representative available via telephone to help resolve disputes.
  3. Once resolved, ask the user to kindly remove the old post. If things went well and the customer is now happy, they should have no issue with doing it. Of course, if the dispute is ongoing or unresolved, don’t ask; it could just escalate things.



Trying to manually handle all the tasks associated with generating and managing online reviews eats up a lot of internal resources.  The good news is, there are now a surprising number of companies who offer automated review management platforms. Although each has a slightly different suite of services, they all basically offer a way to automatically request feedback from customers, monitor it, and place it on the major review sites. A list here.