While contemplating which company to work with, purchase something from, etc., potential customers often consult the online reviews of a business to help make their decision easier. According to brightlocal.com, 90% of consumers used the internet to find local businesses in the last year. 82% of these consumers then read online reviews for local businesses. The average consumer reads at least 10 reviews before deciding if they trust the business. While reading this large amount of reviews, the customer will quickly find that not every review they read about a business will be positive. Receiving a negative review can happen for a variety of reasons, many of those the customer that is currently searching will not be aware of.

If you are a small business owner, the big implications of negative reviews can stress you out. The stress is warranted, as only 53% of consumers would even consider choosing a business with less than 4 stars. Luckily for you, there are ways to alleviate this stress.  Negative reviews, while not pretty or appealing, can be very helpful for a business in the long run. These reviews can help a business and its employees learn how to respond to negative feedback, rebuild customer relationships, and work to make sure the issue doesn’t happen again.

Here are some of the most important Do’s and Don’ts for when it comes down to deciding what to do about a negative review. 


  • Take ownership of the issue
    • When things go wrong while serving a customer, it is up to the business to take ownership of the issue. This plays on the fact that a business’s goal is to show the customer that they are cared about. Without happy customers, it is very hard for a business to thrive. Taking ownership of the issue shows the customer that you are actively working to improve their experience and the business. A good reputation of taking ownership of the issue can go a long way for the success of a business.
  • Respond to the customer empathetically
    • When something goes wrong and upsets a customer, an automated response that doesn’t show any passion is not the answer to the problem. It is preferable to receive a message that shows the company cares about their feelings and is working towards a solution for the cause of the negative review. Showing customers that you care about their feelings and opinions can be as simple as checking up on them frequently, asking them to evaluate your performance, or requesting their input on what you’re working on.
  • Turn it into a learning experience
    • No matter what the negative review was received for, it is important to learn from it. The mistake could be something huge or it could be something minor, but either way you and your employees can learn something new for the future of your business. By learning from the negative review, it will reinforce the employee’s dedication to doing good work at the business and pleasing the customers.
  • “Out customer service” the competition
    • Good customer service is essential to the success of a business and its ability to gain positive reviews. By showing the best customer service in your industry, it is more likely that customers will notice this and choose you even if you’ve received a negative review here and there. This outstanding customer service shows that you are willing to work on your issues and assure that they don’t happen again.


  • Argue with the customer
    • When you are trying to respond to a negative review, arguing with the customer is never the answer. Negative reviews can cause a lot of frustration, but the frustration must not be expressed towards any customer.     
  • Blame the customer for the issue
    • Rather than blaming the customer for their negative review, it is best to put yourself in their place and understand the reasoning for the review. The response to the negative review should be discussed internally and then communicated to the customer when appropriate. If a customer is blamed for an issue, this could push them to publicize their negative review and affect the business even more.   
  • Respond in a confrontational tone
    • As discussed before, confronting a customer instead of giving them a collected and professional response could cause repercussions for your company. If you confront them in a confrontational tone, it could lead to even more frustration and bad-mouthing of your business. The negative review could spiral out of control and soon become a huge problem for your business.


The way that you choose to respond to a negative review of your business is very important. It can often make or break you and it is very important to learn how to respond in a professional way. These tips will allow you to learn from negative reviews and grow from them so they don’t happen in the future.