How To Handle Negative Reviews About Your Business

Have you ever looked up your own business online and found a negative review somewhere?

Maybe you own a restaurant and you’ve just found a negative review on a restaurant directory written by someone who was grumpy that night and they have lashed out at you?

Maybe you own a motel and you’ve just found a negative review on a motel directory written by someone who expected a 5 star experience when you sign clearly says 3 star and now they a complaining loudly?

You wish they had come to you first so you’d have the chance to put things right before they flamed you in public like that, right?

Well, for whatever reason, they didn’t. And now there is a negative comment out there poisoning your online reputation and scaring away potential customers.

It is a frightening experience for a business owner.

Did you know that there is a way to turn negative reviews left online by disappointed customers, into a positive force that is 10 times more powerful?

All you have to do is follow this guide:

Step #1: Don’t Make Excuses

Your first reaction will to make an excuse “That only happened because blah blah blah”.

They don’t want to hear your excuses.

Fight the urge to make excuses, because making excuses is starting a fight.

It tells the customer that they are wrong, and that you’re not listening and that you don’t care.

Getting into a fight with a customer either online or face to face is a really bad idea, so don’t make excuses.

Step #2: Cut Them Some Slack

Realise that they are just upset because they were expecting to have a good time, but something went wrong and now they are lashing out in frustration, and, unfortunately, you are the easiest target.

Don’t take it personally.

They’re just having a bad day.

Cut them some slack.

Step #3: Give Them What They Really Want

They really want just 3 things from you.

And if you give them these 3 things they will love you for it.

They will love you because most of the time they complain, no-one listens to them.

So here are the 3 things they want from you: A) Acknowledgment, B) Apology, C) A promise of Action.

3A: Acknowledgement

So first, acknowledge them; “thank you for your feedback Joe Bloggs”. Easy.

3B: Apologise

Next, apologise for their negative experience. But it wasn’t your fault was it? It doesn’t matter whose fault it was, apologise anyway. You can say “I’m sorry you had such a disappointing experience when xyz happened”.

3C: Action

Next, address their issue or concern and describe the changes you are going to make (or even better “have made”) so it won’t happen again. Like this “We are making changes this week to ensure this doesn’t happen again to you or anyone else”

What Will Happen Next

Trust me, if you do these 3 things you will blow their minds.

They will think “Wow, they really cared about what I had to say!”, “They are true professionals!”, “I helped make that place better!” and they feel a warm glow.

But the real magic happens afterwards: Hundreds of other people will read their complaint and then read your professional response.

They will think “Wow, look at the way the team responded to that whinger, they really listen and care! I’m going there!”

“But I’m Not Allowed To Reply On That Website”

Sometimes a review website will want to charge you as the business owner to provide you with the ability to reply to these negative reviews. There is a simple way to get around this. Just write a review of your own on that website:

  1. Use your real name and add your job title and business name in brackets. Eg “Sheldon Nesdale (Director at
  2. Start your reply by directing your comment at the person who left the negative comment using the @ symbol. Eg “@GrumpyDave Hi Dave, thank you…”
  3. Follow the format above

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