Tools of the Trade: How to Handle Negative Reviews

by | Apr 23, 2013

The following is a guest post from Kimberley Laws, a freelance writer and small business owner. She knows firsthand how tough it is to survive in the business world and hopes to use her writing to empower fellow entrepreneurs. 

This may be tough to hear, but not everyone is going to love—or even like—your business and the products it offers. In fact, some may come away from your company hurling expletives like Yosemite Sam on crack. And, thanks to social media, these unhappy customers can now share their negative thoughts with a massive on-line audience.

But don’t panic. There is no need to wave the white flag or pull up stakes just yet. With a little know-how and a touch of finesse, you can turn these negative reviews into positives—and win over a new batch of clientele.

white flag

There is no need to surrender to bad reviews. You can reclaim your shiny on-line image.

Here is some negative review advice that can help restore your on-line reputation.

Get Acquainted With Social Media.

Many business owners are unfamiliar with the social media tools that are being used against them. How can you respond to a negative tweet on Twitter if you don’t know how to use it? You can’t. That’s why it is important to become adept at using social media platforms. You also need to become knowledgeable about the most popular review sites like Yelp and Angie’s list.

Mastering these internet tools will enable you to respond to unhappy customers and keep on top of future negative reviews.

 hugging laptop

To tackle negative on-line reviews successfully, you must embrace technology.

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Don’t Hit the Snooze Button.

You need to respond to negative comments quickly. Ignoring them will make you look like you don’t care, which serves to validate the original complaint. Delaying your response will allow others the chance to pile on further negative reviews—turning the proverbial molehill into Mount Vesuvius.

Don’t Be a “Right Fighter.”

This is not the time to make excuses or argue with an unsatisfied customer. It doesn’t matter who was right or who was wrong. As the owner of the business at fault, you must take full responsibility for what has transpired and apologize. A sincere “I’m sorry” will go a long way to mending the relationship. Plus, it will make you look like a caring professional in the eyes of those watching the exchange.


Who cares who is “right?” All that matters is that you get the complaint resolved.

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Encourage the Happy People.

Customers seem to be much more motivated to share bad experiences rather than good ones on-line. Let’s face it—humans love to gripe. But it is important that you encourage your happy customers to share their joy as well.

Ask long-time clients to post a positive review. A barrage of positive feedback will make the negatives appear less important to potential clientele.

But never falsify a review. If you have to fabricate positive customer experiences, you have a bigger problem than a simple negative on-line review.

thumbs up

Encourage happy clientele to give you “two thumbs up” on-line.

    Image courtesy of

The best defense against a negative on-line review is, of course, to provide the best customer service possible in the first place. But even the most top-notch service provider can’t please everyone all the time. This is why it is so important that every business owner become well versed in the techniques for handling a bad internet review.

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