Reputation Management—What Do I Do When I Get a Negative Review?

Reputation Management—What Do I Do When I Get a Negative Review?

When companies begin to pushonline marketing one of their strategies, we recommend that our clients ask their satisfied customers to give testimonials and reviews. A lot of consumers will work with a brand based on the number of positive reviews they have online. The downside is that you are also opening yourself up to negative reviews from dissatisfied clients, as well as potential fraudulent reviews by your competitors.

The best defense is a good offense. What I mean is that it’s important to actively pursue positive reviews on a regular and consistent basis so, in the event that you receive a negative review, the impact is small. 

If you do receive a negative review, it’s best to respond immediately in a calm, non-emotional manner. The best response is to apologize to the responder, validate their concerns without confirming their complaint, and then offer to discuss the matter offline. 

Here are some very important DO NOTs:

  • Do not make excuses!
  • Do not try to defend yourself online!
  • Do not argue in any way with the reviewer!
  • Do not disagree with the reviewer’s opinion!


  • Do apologize. 
  • Do validate their concern.
  • Do offer to correct the error in person or over the phone, NOT online. 

When apologizing, you do not have to admit blame or take responsibility of the situation unless it’s true. If the situation is a misunderstanding, online is not the time to try to state your case, so simply apologize for the situation and ask if they will contact you at your office. 

In the Real World

I once witnessed a local tanning salon in my residential community go out of business because they tried to defend themselves in a Facebook post. A client of the salon posted on a Facebook community page saying the tanning salon fraudulently charged her credit card after she had requested to cancel her membership. What the salon owner should have done is (1) apologize for the misunderstanding and (2) request she call the salon to resolve the issue. What the owner did instead was disclose that the client’s credit card had been declined due to insufficient funds the month prior to her canceling her membership, and explain that it was charged due to her being late, which was in violation of her membership contract. Immediately there were over 20 additional responses from other clients of the salon coming to the defense of the client and blasting the owner for disclosing personal information. One very helpful responder mentioned that the client should report the owner to the Better Business Bureau for disclosing personal information in a public manner. Several other helpful responders all agreed to be witnesses and back up the client’s story as well as immediately cancel their memberships at the salon. The moral of this story is even though the business owner was justified in her actions, the public perception is what matters online. This business was just around the corner from me, and less than a month later, it was out of business. 

It’s important to understand that your response to a negative review is not for the person you are responding to but for all of the potential clients who are seeing your interaction with a dissatisfied client. How you respond to a dissatisfied client is more important to than what the complaint is about. Consumers are smart enough to understand that there are some people in the world that, no matter what you do, will never be satisfied.

The best case scenario is for you to be able to resolve the issue offline and turn the negative review into a positive review. 

We help companies with their online presence and reputation management. If you need help with your website, social media, or online marketing, please call our Fort Worth office to schedule a free consultation at 817-431-9861.

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