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How to respond to negative reviews online

Online reviews are essential for businesses. They improve Search Engine Optimisation, build trust with consumers and with over 90% of Australians making purchasing decisions based on online reviews; it’s important to make sure you respond to negative reviews and positive reviews!

However, as essential they are, understandably negative online reviews can be terrifying for small businesses! But what if we told you that you are looking at negative reviews all wrong?

The truth is they provide essential feedback and a unique opportunity to show to leverage as a brand and marketing opportunity.

There is no need to fear negative online reviews

How the review will be perceived and how much weight people will give it can also be determined by your public response to it. Remember, with responding to this review you are not only talking to this one customer, you’re talking to everyone who reads this review including future customers!

How to respond to negative online reviews


  1. Respond quickly. Aim to respond to all reviews within 24 hours. This is especially important for negative reviews as it gives you chance to share your side of the story before too many people see it and form a one sided opinion.
  2. Keep it short and simple. As a rule of thumb, keep your response to no more than three sentences. With providing too much detail in your response you risk aggravating the customer further.
  3. Take it offline. Respond to the review and go into as much detail as you need to but also request that the customer contacts you further to discuss rather than engaging in a conversation online.
  4. Be polite and professional. When responding to negative reviews you may be feeling a range of emotions from angry, frustrated to upset! It is important to not let these emotions translate into your response. Keep it polite, diplomatic and professional.
  5. Sympathise. Apologise for the experience they have had or how they feel. This shows respect to this persons experience and is a good way to diffuse any hostility in the situation.

The reality is that the majority of negative reviews are almost impossible to remove from platforms such as Google and Facebook. Unless they are deemed seriously offensive or threatening, removing them is unlikely so the best defence you have against them is taking the feedback on board and responding to them in a way that showcases your professionalism. They also provide imperative feedback that gives your business chance to improve.


By continuing to provide a fantastic product or service your positive reviews will naturally increase and dilute any negative reviews you receive!

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