How to Handle Negative Reviews and Criticism Online

Do you know that Negative Reviews and Criticism can break down a business’s reputation and drive customers away from you?

With an increasing number of customers relying on social media and online communication, a whopping 94% of them will look at customer reviews before deciding whether or not to purchase products from you.

As many as 53% of consumers expect the organization to respond to their reviews within a week. However, 63% of them say that the organization never responds to negative comments effectively.

Interestingly, 45% of customers will continue patronising a business responding to unfavourable comments.

This shows that knowing how to handle negative reviews and criticism online is a very necessary part of corporate reputation management. But it has to be done properly and managed very carefully indeed.

We will now look at the best ways to manage negative reviews and in fact, try to turn around the scenario so that the organization emerges unscathed and upholds its positive image in the eyes of stakeholders.

How to Handle Negative Reviews and Criticism Online

The following are some best practices that have been used by

1. Address the Reviewer

Negative Reviews and Criticism

It would be best if you tried to find out as much as possible about the reviewer and the reason for their negative comment.

The majority of customer reviews are on social media and websites, so you will have to address them on the platform where they left their negative review.

You can address them by name and personalize your response to show you respect them.

2. Say Thank You

Negative Reviews and Criticism

Even while you are looking into the situation that caused a customer’s negative review, respond politely and thank the customer for posting their comment.

Handle it as an opportunity to make amends by rectifying the situation. Responding promptly will tell them that you care about them.

3. Apologize and Sympathise

It’s a good move to apologize to the customer who had a bad experience. Their negative comment could be justified.

You should sympathise with them and assure them that you are taking the steps necessary to prevent the event from occurring again.

Make your message short and sweet. Saying sorry shows that you care about your customers and that you take the time to read and respond to their comments.

It’s a great chance to create a positive rapport with your customers and build an atmosphere of trust and comfort with them. Besides, viewers would be turned off by a company that is too proud to apologize.

4. Take Responsibility

Even though the negative experience may be a rare occurrence and may be caused by circumstances beyond your control, always take responsibility for the situation.

You should also try to reassure them that you have high quality and service standards and that the incident would never be allowed to re-occur. 

5. Make Things Right

You should make every effort to correct the situation that resulted in the customer posting a negative review. Don’t just post a standardised response.

Rather, you should investigate the circumstances as much as possible. Refer to the incident while replying to the customer to show that you are aware of it and have taken steps to correct the situation.

6. Take the Issue Offline

It’s a good strategy to contact the customer directly and take the issue offline. You can offer to meet them separately and give them some incentive or discount to mend the relationship.

You should give them a contact number where they can explain the situation. It will prevent outside interference and loss of reputation.

7. Ask for a Second Chance

It is always best to apologise for the incident, even if it is beyond your control. Give the customer a chance to come back to you.

Show that you appreciate their comments, even though they are negative because it has highlighted customer concerns that would improve things for others when they are corrected.

8. Respond in a Timely Manner

You should respond to the customer as soon as possible. It will show that you care and will highlight to viewers that you are not afraid to address an unsavoury situation.

What NOT to Do When Faced With Criticism or Negative Reviews Online

Negative Reviews and Criticism

No doubt, dealing with negative reviews can be a challenge for any company. It requires a good social media manager or corporate communications expert to handle the situation effectively.

You need not only to mitigate the negative effects of the comment but also address the reviewer in a way that wins them over and makes them your friend. 

You should never let a negative situation build up to an alarming level.

1. Never Ignore Negative Reviews.

One of the worst things you can do is to ignore the comment. It will not go away and needs to be addressed as quickly and intelligently as possible.

Even if the reviewer is out of line and the comment unjustified, responding to it promptly shows that you are concerned about your reputation.

Some viewers would take the comment at face value even if it is unjustified or untrue.

2. Don’t Get Angry or Defensive.

Negative Reviews and Criticism

It is difficult to stay calm and composed when faced with a negative review. Don’t react in a retaliatory or condescending manner. It will infuriate the customer and lead to a war that you can’t win.

Other viewers will also be turned off and stop supporting you. So respond calmly and politely, even when the customer is out of line.

3. Don’t Deny Legitimate Criticism.

Investigate the situation if possible, before you respond. The customer may have a valid complaint. You should admit your fault when there is one. Arguing with a customer will only escalate the situation.


Dealing with negative comments and reviews is a reality that has to be faced in today’s digital world.

We have to be careful about how we address these comments as reviews are an important part of the online buying process.

Hiring the services of a good public relations firm with a social media manager who knows how to manage negative reviews will be a good step in ensuring proper corporation reputation management.

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