Deleting a Review is Not the Answer

In today’s instant gratification society, online reviews are a huge component of how people make purchasing decisions these days. Your potential customers are turning to sites like Yelp, Facebook and Google for a real understanding of what doing business with you is like.Just how important are online reviews in the buyer’s journey?


This infographic from Business2Community states that 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. Ninety percent!

A recent study by Moz found that 67.7% of people surveyed stated that online reviews play a critical role in their purchasing decisions.

That means your online reviews are nothing to sneeze at.

As a business owner, of course you want every online review to be positive. The truth is, though, that not every review will be positive. And that’s actually ok. First of all, having only positive reviews on your online sites send just as many warning signs to potential customers. No negative reviews can make users question your authenticity. Secondly, negative reviews help you to understand your customers’ perspective and can help you identify opportunities to further improve your business.

Negative Reviews Are Unavoidable, But Addressable

Inevitably, though, you will receive a negative review from time to time. Maybe your customers are upset that you were sold out of a product, or maybe there was a misunderstanding of your business policies and procedures. It happens.

Receiving the negative feedback is not the issue. Avoiding it or ignoring the comment is.

When you do receive a negative review, it’s how you handle the situation and address the commenter’s concerns that can make or break others’ perception of your business.

Here is our list of how you should NOT handle a negative customer review online:

  • Don’t wait around for a week or two before you respond hoping the situation will die down. When you do receive a negative review or an online customer complaint, you want to address it as quickly as possible. Ideally, you should respond same-day, but you should certainly aim to address the complaint online within 48 hours. Facebook even lets others know how quickly you normally respond to posts or reviews, so responding in a timely fashion can help boost the trust and authority others see when they view your page.
  • Don’t delete the complaint. Deleting the negative review falls into somewhat of an ethical gray area. Having only positive reviews can make it seem like you have orchestrated all of the reviews yourself or hired someone to write them for you. Although your intentions may be good, this could have the opposite effect and make you seem less trustworthy. Instead, you should address the concern both on the review and personally with the customer if you are able to.
  • Don’t post the same apology response to each negative review. Each situation is unique, so each response to a negative complaint should address the individual problem. Your customers want to feel heard, and your potential customers want to see that you are human. By addressing each concern in the same way, you accomplish neither of these objectives. Treat each user as an individual and provide an appropriate response to their specific complaint. If the person didn’t make a purchase, a refund or coupon for the next purchase won’t suffice. Send a private message if possible asking for their phone number or personal email address so that you can follow up with them specifically to rectify the situation. Make sure to address the complaint publicly as well so that other users see that you have taken care of the issue.
  • Don’t the intern handle all of the negative reviews. While we do advocate dedicating one or two people on your team to monitor your online review channels, it is not a good idea for the low person on the totem pole to be authoring all of the complaint replies. Because generally people are complaining because they want to be heard, they want to know that someone with decision-making abilities have listened to their complaint. Make sure the reply comes from the President, CEO, sales manager, or an equivalent person in your company so that the reviewer feels that someone with enough authority has listened to and taken viable action on their complaint.
  • Don’t feed into the negativity. It’s easy to want to get defensive or counteract the person’s complaint. Unfortunately, this only feeds into their negativity and fuels the flames. Situations can easily get out of control on social media, and your followers can screen-shot anything and share it publicly, so make sure each response of professional, courteous and does not point the blame at another person. (Even if it is so obviously their fault!)

The best thing you can do when you receive a negative review online is to be polite, acknowledge your faults (we are only human, after all), and do your best to make the situation right by the other person. At best, you’ll win them back as a customer. At the very least, you’ll know that you have done the best job you can to rectify the situation.

Now, take that negative feedback and spin it into a positive learning opportunity for yourself and your team. You can only go up from here!