• Sarah Barker

How to respond to a negative business review

Own a small business and deal with reviews? Read our article from guest marketing professional Ryan Joos, for tips and tricks to respond to a review.

Google My Business is Google’s business representation platform. When you do a search in Google looking for local services like plumbers, restaurants, lawyers, pest control companies and whatever else the businesses shown are tied to a Google My Business listing. Modern consumers are using the information from these listings to help guide their decision making process. These Google listings allow potential clients or customers to view your business, read reviews, view your photos and ultimately contact you all without ever coming to your website.

Here’s an example of one of my clients, Pick PT in Rexburg, Idaho. Dr. Pickering has done a great job becoming the obvious choice in his market because he has worked so diligently on landing reviews. He has double the amount of the closest competitor. When people make their selection they often mention how influential the review rating and amount was in their process.

Incoming “No Duh” Statement: Great Reviews are Important

Because modern users rely heavily on the information from your Google My Business listing to help them in their selection process, it’s important to have your reviews do the selling for you. Amazon has us trained to do this. According to a survey by BrightLocal, 82% of consumers read reviews for local businesses, including 93% of people aged 35-54. At my last company, I worked almost exclusively with lawyers. What I found is that the majority of first time callers (60-75% of all the first time callers) were calling directly from the company’s Google listing and not from the company’s website. I don’t have data or insight into many more industries but I am confident that many local businesses see similar ratios. Some industries like restaurants probably see significantly higher interaction rates with their Google listings.

Consumers Look at How You Respond to Negative Reviews

Consumers who consider reviews will often look at 5 star and 1 star reviews. They want to see what people liked and they also really want to see what other consumers didn’t like. According to another survey, 45% of consumers say they’re more likely to visit a business that responds to their negative reviews.

How NOT to respond to a negative review

By Being Racist

This is a textbook example of how not to respond to a negative review in a number of ways.

Here are some of the interesting notes:

  • This is a customer that frequents the restaurant but who had a bad experience once. This customer would likely continue to dine there if the situation had been responded to more positively.

  • The owner’s reply doesn’t acknowledge the fact that this customer had a bad experience. The owner also doesn’t express any regret about the situation.

  • The owner just tries to discredit the reviewer’s story denying that there could have possibly been an issue.

  • Then of course, the owner makes some incredibly racist comments.

By Insulting the Reviewer’s Appearance

Sadly, the owner goes low by just being rude. Imagine what might happen if the owner had just invited the reviewer to contact them and help them understand how they could improve.

Calling the Reviewer Names

If I were the owner, I would be very concerned about any claims about racism. Instead, the owner repeatedly calls the reviewer names and mocks his occupation.

Better Approaches to Responding to Negative Reviews

Be Grateful for the Reviewer’s Business

Take the time to thank the reviewer for using your service or coming to your place of business. A little gratitude can go a long way.

Don’t Respond When You’re Angry

Others might recommend that you reply immediately. That is good advice if you can do so level-headedly. It seldom will work in your favor if you respond when you are extremely frustrated. Take a step away, come back later when you can address the issue well.

Reply Professionally

Some reviews can be straight up nasty! Even if they are, it’s rarely in your best interest to sink to that level. You are a business representative or a business owner, avoid the temptation to be catty and reply in a professional manner.

Ask Someone Emotionally Removed How They Would Reply

If you are unable to emotionally disconnect from the situation, ask someone you respect how they would reply. You can even ask them to draft up how they would respond and you can use that as a response template, editing what you feel you need to.

Be Empathetic

Sometimes customers, clients, patients, or students can be ridiculous and the reviews and feedback they leave can be unfair. However, if you take a moment and try to see the situation from their point of view, it can help guide your response. This client is frustrated if you truly seek to understand their situation and their concerns, you might just walk away from this situation with a brand advocate.

Reply Publicly and then Take it Offline

Reply to the negative review and extend an invitation to have a conversation on the phone to further resolve the issue. They will often be much easier to work with on the phone or face to face.

Great Response to a Negative Review

I think this is a great response for the following reasons:

  • Thanks the reviewer for the feedback and doesn’t take anything in here personally

  • Offers a solution to the problem (refund)

  • Invites the user to give them another chance (free next tour)

  • Recognizes the fact that sometimes they mess up

Many consumers who read this interaction would likely feel very confident in giving this company a shot. There have been times when I have had poor experiences with restaurants or other businesses and have left unfavorable reviews as a result. I really appreciate the ones who reach out and try to make it right. In some instances, during the second go around I have had better experiences.

Go Get Some Reviews!

Chances are at one point or another you may get a poor review. It happens, it’s life. My top recommendation to all businesses is get positive reviews as often as you possibly can. This will make it so that if you do get one unfavorable review, it won’t dramatically hurt your businesses online reputation. Having great reviews on your Google listing can help make you the obvious choice in your market!

Any questions or comments? Feel free to reach out to Ryan Joos at Vulpine Marketing - The Idaho Falls Marketing Agency

Ready to own your own business? Contact me today!


Sarah Barker - Franchise Consultant 

As a Franchise Consultant, I love helping people achieve their goal as a business owner.  SSB Franchise Consulting provides a free franchise consulting service to people considering franchise ownership. We help you find your perfect match.


Sarah Barker - Franchise Consultant 

As a Franchise Consultant, I love helping people achieve their goal as a business owner.  SSB Franchise Consulting provides a free franc

hise c

onsulting service to people considering franchise ownership. We help you find your perfect match.






Sarah Barker | SSB Consulting

Franchise Consultant  & Recruiting Specialist

Located in Boise, ID

Working with clients in all states.

*LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this website does not constitute the offer and sale of a franchise. It is for information purposes only. 







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