How to Respond to Negative Reviews: Dos and Don’ts

Aug 9, 2017

Updated Oct. 4, 2022

Your company or brand might use social media to engage with customers, gather positive reviews, enhance brand recognition, and foster word-of-mouth marketing. But is your brand properly responding to negative reviews and comments?

It may be difficult to take negative feedback head-on – but that’s exactly what you must do to maintain your brand’s upstanding reputation. Here are the dos and don’ts to responding to negative reviews and comments on social media.


When you respond to negative reviews or comments, be sure to…

Respond privately first

Most social media platforms have direct messaging features that can – and should – be used to privately communicate with followers. If the person who left the review is an existing customer/client, then you will most likely have their contact information, and should consider calling or emailing them directly.

This approach is a win-win – the customer is able to voice their concerns/complaints while speaking directly with a real person, while the rest of your followers are blind to the conversation. But remember to reply to the review after you speak privately with the customer.

Respond quickly

Your customers want to be heard – and they want to be heard now. Best practices say to respond to customers within 24 hours, but if you really want to rectify the situation quickly, it’s best to respond within a few hours. Social media reach is powerful and word-of-mouth spreads quickly – so it’s crucial to address an angry customer’s concern as soon as possible.

One way to ensure that you catch reviews and comments in real-time is to set up email notifications when reviews are posted to your Google Plus, Facebook page, Yelp profile, etc.

Be impartial

Although you need to respond quickly, take a moment to breathe and try to view the situation from a third party’s P.O.V. This is where social media and marketing managers are especially helpful – they are somewhat impartial and typically do not take negative feedback personally.


“I’m sorry.” These two words can be incredibly hard to mutter sometimes. Despite whether you want to take 100% of the blame or not, it’s important to apologize for your customer’s experience or situation. For example, “I’m sorry you had a bad experience,” is a good start to helping ease their concerns.

Offer a solution

After apologizing, be sure to offer a solution to the customer’s problem. Even if you don’t necessarily know what the solution is, give the customer a number to call so you can “discuss how we can solve this problem together,” and then make sure someone is available to speak to him or her.


When you respond to negative reviews or comments, don’t…

Ignore reviews/comments

You wouldn’t hang up on a customer who calls to describe his negative experience with your salesperson – so don’t ignore their Facebook reviews! Ignoring the review/comment will not solve the problem and your followers can see your lack of response, which indicates that your brand doesn’t value customer support/service.

Delete reviews/comments

Deleting a review or comment will anger the customer even more. Plus, most websites and social media don’t allow you to delete reviews. Only after you have solved the problem for the customer and you feel that he is now satisfied, can you then ask him to delete or modify the review.

If you are concerned about having too many negative reviews on your page, ask your customers that have had positive experiences with your brand to write reviews. This will help offset and balance out the reviews to eventually increase your overall rating.

Get defensive

You’ve heard it a hundred times, but the customer is always right. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about what kind of response you would like to receive if you were in a similar situation. Keep the response simple and short; there is no need to get into too much detail as this may come off as trying to outsmart the customer. If you think an explanation is necessary, follow up with the customer privately.

Allow abuse

Sometimes the customer is NOT right.

Sometimes reviewers cross a line and get obsessive and even dangerous.

None of your employees deserve to be abused, threatened, or harassed! It’s important to know when to report an abusive comment or review. If the person is threatening or uses racial or other discriminatory remarks, you should ban or report the person and delete their comments.

It will also be important to keep an eye out for fake profiles. Scammers create these to intentionally trash talk a company and bring down their overall star rating. Keep a close eye on details like poor grammar, generic avatar photos, excessive use of exclamation points, and starred reviews without comments. Check to see if your reviewer has left reviews for other companies. It is a sign of a fake profile if they have only left one review and that review is for your company

If you suspect a user has create a fake profile to spam your business with bad reviews, take these steps to request review removal on Google.

More Tips

They won’t always ‘say it to your face’.

What are people saying about your brand online? You can search for your brand’s name on Twitter using the Twitter Search feature, for example, to read tweets that have your brand’s name in it. Although the customer may not have tagged you directly, you can direct message the customer and ask them how you can make it right for them, where appropriate.

Have an attitude of gratitude

Don’t forget about your brand advocates! It’s equally important to respond to the positive reviews as it is to address the negative ones. Let your supporters know that you appreciate their positive feedback and thank them for choosing your brand.

Expect the best, prepare for the worst

Your social media strategy involves much more than writing and scheduling posts; it should also include brand standards on how to respond to negative reviews, comments, and feedback. Designate the appropriate contact person in various departments to help respond to different kinds of reviews.

The best advice when responding to bad reviews? Be empathetic. Engage in active listening. Be respectful. And seek to understand, first, instead of getting immediately defensive. These key tenets apply to all of business management, not just social media.

IMPACT Marketing & Public Relations, LLC

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