How to Handle Negative Reviews on Social Media

Just as life comes with ups and downs, so does business ownership. The hours of work you pour into your business hiring, balancing budgets, and managing operations are important, but one negative review can make your efforts seem wasted. Fear not, grasshopper! We have everything you need to respond to negative reviews like a pro. Let’s go on a journey together to explore your options, become the ultimate Zen master and restore balance to the online universe.


The Players

Your review platforms ultimately depend on your line of work. Most businesses can expect reviews to come in through Google My Business, Facebook and Yelp. Other websites, like Houzz, are more industry-specific. Fortunately, most of these platforms operate on the same set of rules. If you know the basics, you can resolve challenges anywhere.


The CyberMark Method to Handle Negativity Like a Pro

Step 1: Keep Your Cool

Your business is your lifeblood. It’s easy to react when someone tries to tear it down with unfair comments. This is where you channel your inner yogi. You are a problem solver. You don’t buy into cheap tricks and distractions: your eyes are focused on a long-term strategy (preferably one that doesn’t include haters). Titrate your reaction to filter out any anger or frustration. You exist in a world of solutions.


Step 2: Review Community Guidelines

True Zen masters use all resources at their disposal. Check the review platform’s community guidelines to see if the negative review breaks any rules. For most platforms, this includes any comment that amounts to spam, promotes illegal activity, includes offensive language, is a conflict of interest, or is simply unrelated to your business. You may view additional details specific to your review platform below.


Content Guidelines


How to Report a Review


Flagging a review is a not a guarantee that it will be removed. It simply means that a live representative will evaluate your claim and make a final decision about whether or not the review stays. This process can take several days but is very effective at protecting businesses when used properly.


Step 3: Evaluate the Facts

Talk to your team to gain insight into what really happened. Is the review in question accurate? Did your team respond to the situation appropriately? Was compensation offered to the customer? Allow yourself to achieve enlightenment from all directions. This information will guide your actions as you determine the best way to proceed.


Step 4: Take Action

Live in the present but think about the future often. Try to determine whether the customer’s complaint warrants larger action to preserve the integrity of your business. This is a two-fold process that includes considering both short term and long term solutions.



Short Term Long Term
Simplicity is a beautiful thing. The customer might be abated with a refund or gift certificate along with a sincere message from the owner. You might want to have a manager call the customer directly and offer to make things right. Just as it’s best to complete a sale when the lead is “hot,” it’s also best to reach unhappy customers quickly so you can take control of the situation. Try to contact with within 48 hours of leaving the review.  

Evaluate existing processes and how they impact the customer experience. The solution might be a quick fix, like posting company policies in a prominent location. Other solutions, like staff restructuring, might take more time.


While most reviews do not require major overhaul to your business structure, this is a great opportunity to consider the feedback you received and decide how it should impact your business.

Step 5: Respond to the Review

Although there is no perfect formula to write a response there are a few guidelines to bear in mind. Respond politely, empathize with the customer, state your store policies, and offer compensation if you deem it to be appropriate. Avoid engaging in emotional rhetoric that could come off as being unprofessional. Remember that your response is public and will be visible to past, present and future customers. Keep the response simple and always try to move the conversation offline by leaving your preferred method of contact. If you settled the matter offline already, you can mention that in your response as well.


Step 6: Promote, Promote, Promote!

In the grand scheme of things, you know that you operate a good business. You care about your customers and you trust your team to deliver exceptional results. That means you probably have a huge group of happy customers out there simply radiating with positivity that could outweigh any negative comments currently existing online. While you can’t tell people exactly what to write when they review your services, you can remind your regulars that you’re on social media. An enthusiastic shout out from a happy customer could be just the thing to get you back on track!


Step 7: Debrief

Reflection is a critical part of business. Consider the entire experience from start to finish. What would you change? What would you keep the same? Be sure to discuss the situation with members of your team if necessary, to ensure better outcomes in the future.


“The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.”
— Thomas Paine


There is no teacher like experience. When all is said and done, you are still in charge of the way your business is perceived online. Everything from your website to the photos you upload, social media posts and comments tell customers who you are – and what your brand stands for. Maintain consistent messaging across all channels and stay true to your mission. Above all: never feel like you have to do this alone! Contact CyberMark today to learn more about comprehensive digital marketing solutions to grow your online presence and build a business that grows with each new season.

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