Published on Jul 22, 2019

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Everyone likes to be liked. So what should you do when someone goes online to say they don’t like your business, product or customer service? How do you deal with negative online reviews?

Dealing with negative reviews is part of getting important feedback for your business


According to a survey by Bright Local, reading a negative review stops 40% of consumers wanting to do business with your company. So while it’s impossible to guarantee you’ll never get a bad review, how do you limit the damage of a bad review?


1.    Take a breath

It’s often best to reply online, but don’t rush in and make the situation worse. It’s better to stay calm when you respond, particularly if someone’s review is overtly hostile or rude. Responding in-kind can only make matters worse.


2.    Respond online

Going online to respond not only gives you an opportunity to win over an unhappy customer, it also shows other people that you are trying to rectify the situation. While not all bad reviews are justified, they may have a malicious intent, showing that you are trying to solve a perceived problem may win you support.


3.    Apologise

Acknowledge that you are sorry that their expectations weren’t met, and try and offer a mutually acceptable solution to fix the problem. Be polite and professional. Don’t, however, take responsibility for something you haven’t done. Admitting fault when you haven’t done anything wrong may lead to other problems.


4.    Follow up off-line

Give the person a link to a contact email or phone number so that you can discuss and resolve the matter privately. Once you resolve the issue you can post a public comment on the website outlining the agreed outcome, if applicable. If they are happy with the outcome you may suggest they update their review to reflect this.


5.    Fix it

If it’s something you can fix, fix it. It may sound simple, but if you aren’t going to or able to fix it don’t say you will. That will only make you look worse.


6.    Not all bad reviews are unjustified

If you keep getting the same negative comments about some aspect of your business it may be highlighting some problem within you company’s products or operational practices. Negative reviews can be an opportunity to change how you do something, or fix something about the products you sell.


What if the review isn’t true?

If the review isn’t true, contact the site where the review has been posted and ask for it to be taken down. Businesses and review platforms that don’t remove reviews they know to be fake or untrue risk breaching the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.


Keep in mind some people don’t want a resolution they just want to rant or cause trouble for you. Don’t buy into a conversation with someone who is blatantly trying to bully you, you won’t win. Just get the post removed if possible.


If the above actions don’t work and it’s effecting your business it may be time to get some legal advice.


Go here to download the ACCC’s helpful guide ‘Online reviews – a guide for business and review platforms’.


And if you’re tempted to write positive reviews about your own business, revisit this ACC article which highlights why you shouldn’t.