Crisis Management: How to Deal with Negative Reviews and Feedback Online


Most businesses face a degree of backlash at some stage or another, with the rise of social media making it easier than ever for customers to have their say online. Often caused by an operational function or error, negative reviews can cause a real headache for marketers, not to mention the business as a whole. But what can be done about them? And how should you approach them to avoid a crisis?

Here, we provide a complete guide on how to deal with negative online reviews. We discuss the impact of bad feedback, the do’s and don’ts of responding, and provide a step-by-step guide on how to deal with the issue. Use the links below to navigate.

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What is the Impact of Negative Online Reviews on a Business?

Customer reviews hold sway over how your brand is perceived, which is why so many companies have invested significant sums in bolstering the customer service they provide online. The growth in social media, coupled with the rise of the so-called ‘keyboard warrior’, means that a proactive approach is needed to sidestep the backlash caused by negative customer feedback.

But just how likely is it that negative reviews will hurt your brand? And what are the effects? We look at the potential impact of negative online reviews below:

  • Reputational risk: In a hugely competitive market, a business’ reputation is the key to success. Negative reviews put this at risk, throwing customers off and resulting in a drop in advocacy.
  • Drop in conversions: Negative feedback can hamper the conversion cycle, with customers put off making a purchase after researching a brand only to find undesirable reviews. This can impact on sales and profitability in the long-term.
  • Lowered search rankings: In 2018, Google admitted that while ratings and reviews don’t directly impact organic search performance, they do affect local search results – when a star rating or negative review is attached to a specific My Business listing. So, if your business relies on strong local search performance, negative reviews need to be dealt with.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of how negative reviews and feedback can hurt a business. Depending on the scale of the crisis, online criticism has the potential to ruin organisations big and small, so it’s absolutely critical that you adopt a proactive approach to dealing with reviews, ratings and comments from your customers.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Responding to Negative Reviews Online

Before we get to the step-by-step guide on dealing with negative reviews, it’s a good idea to look at some of the general do’s and don’ts of responding to online feedback. That way, you can approach it with confidence and get off to the best possible start.

The Do’s

Knowing what to do after receiving a bad review or rating is the hardest thing to master. Here are a few things you should do to begin the resolution process.

  • Acknowledge the problem and apologise – Customers want to feel listened to online, so the first thing to do is acknowledge their comment or review and apologise for their experience. Even if you don’t agree or feel what they’ve said isn’t true, staying level-headed at this stage is crucial.
  • Respond quickly and positively – It’s always best to meet negative reviews head on rather than let them linger on your social pages without response. Post a positive reply to let them know that you’re taking their issue seriously.
  • Steer things offline – It’s important to get things out of the public eye when you can, as this will limit the amount of backlash and prevent others from jumping on the bandwagon. Point them towards direct messaging or your customer service department to steer things in an offline direction.
  • Pay attention to negative feedback to improve your products and services – For new businesses in particular, negative reviews can be difficult to swallow. You’ve invested time, money and passion into your business, and may find it hard to stomach negative comments and feedback. But, the best thing to do is treat such reviews as a chance to learn from past mistakes and develop your offering – reducing the likelihood of history repeating itself.

The Don’ts

Many of the don’ts of responding to online reviews sound obvious, but in the moment, they can be hard to live by. Here are the things to avoid in a crisis:

  • Don’t go on the defensive – You may feel obliged to defend your business in the wake of negative criticism, but a defensive or argumentative attitude will only deepen the crisis. You don’t want your business to go viral for the wrong reasons, so keep a clear head and respond with an open mind.
  • Don’t pretend it didn’t happen – Ignoring negative reviews and feedback is a big no-no. Not only can this damage your brand’s reputation when other customers see that a review hasn’t been dealt with, it’s the thing most likely to cause a breakdown in trust between you and your customer base.
  • Don’t rise to trolls and unreasonable users – If you have a problem customer who consistently leaves negative comments and reviews on your social platforms or My Business Page, don’t get pulled into an online battle, as this will only weaken your position. Instead, respond as normal to each and every comment; this will show other users that you’re being reasonable, even if the other party isn’t.

Step-by-step Guidance on Responding to Negative Feedback

If you’ve received a negative review on Google or one of your social channels, our step-by-step guide can help you avoid a crisis and respond in the most positive way. Follow the steps below to counter online feedback and negative reviews.

Removing Negative Reviews and Spammy Feedback

Occasionally, it’s necessary to remove reviews or feedback from your social channels or Google My Business page. This is the case if they’re spammy or have been posted by someone who has never used your service or bought your products.

Online trolls can randomly target businesses, leaving negative reviews or star ratings which can impact on your brand image. Competitors may also target your business, seeking to tarnish your reputation for their own gain.

Thankfully, it is possible to remove reviews and ratings which you deem spammy or untrue. A word of caution, however, as removing genuine reviews is a big no-no that could land you in hot water.

Below is a step-by-step guide to removing negative reviews and ratings from your Google My Business and Facebook pages.

Removing Negative Reviews from Google My Business

Removing negative reviews from a Google My Business page isn’t a straightforward process. There isn’t a delete button under each review or rating; you’ll have to flag each review and follow-up with Google to have them removed, even if you know it’s fake or spammy.

  1. Sign into Google My Business
  2. Select ‘Reviews’ from the options list
  3. Locate the review or star rating you want to raise with Google and click the 3-dot button. This will let you ‘Flag as inappropriate’.
  4. Google will review your request and make a decision on whether to remove the rating. But you can speed up the process.
  5. From your My Business page, select ‘Support’ and choose how you want to contact Google. Contacting them to explain the situation can help to get the case resolved more quickly.

Removing Negative Reviews from Facebook

As with Google, removing reviews from Facebook isn’t an easy process. And nor should it be, as customers have a right to know the service a business is offering. That said, if you’ve been targeted by fake or suspicious reviews, there is a way to have them removed. Just be absolutely sure the review isn’t genuine before you proceed by cross-referencing the comment or review with your own records.

  1. Log in to your business Facebook page and navigate to the ‘Reviews’ option.
  2. Click the 3-dot button in the corner of the review in question and select ‘Give feedback on this recommendation’.
  3. Facebook will then prompt you to choose from one of three options, including:
    • Recommendation not relevant (used for fake and/or irrelevant reviews)
    • Unfair recommendation (used for suspected paid reviews)
    • Nudity, violence, harassment, suicide or self-injury, spam, drugs and hate speech
  4. Select the option which best applies to the review in question. From here, it’s a matter of waiting for Facebook to make its verdict on whether to remove the feedback.

If you need help managing your social channels and campaigns, Banc can help. Our social media team can help increase brand awareness and engagement while monitoring negative reviews and feedback, so your business is protected and optimised online. Click here to find out more or call us today on 0345 459 0558.

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Jonathan Tuplin