We live in the age of the internet, and unlike in the past where companies could rely on suggestion boxes to find out exactly what customers thought about your products, services, and the business at large, the internet has changed that.

Today, online reviews are done online be it on your social media pages, website or external sites like Yelp or Google. 

What’s even frustrating is that such reviews are visible to anyone who searches for you online unlike a few sheets of paper in a suggestion box that are only accessible to you and anyone else who has such clearance.

The norm is that a large percentage of consumers will first go through online reviews before making a purchase. 

As such, you need to know how to respond to each review including the negative ones because ignoring them is not going to cut it.

Acknowledge the problem

Sometimes, a user will just leave a negative review because they are going through something and are frustrated. Sometimes, it will be a genuine negative review because something is wrong with your products or services.

Whatever the case, the best thing you can do is to acknowledge the issue rather than playing the defensive card.


When a JetBlue Airways passenger complained that their TV screen was not working, the Twitter team was quick to respond to the comment by acknowledging that it happens but they were more than happy to resolve the issue.

Say you are sorry

At the end of the day, acknowledging a problem and not offering an apology in return will do more harm than good.

When you have a negative review, the consumer expects an apology whether you are on the wrong or not.

And it’s not just about throwing words out there in the name of an apology rather, make it sound genuine and sincere, and like you are committed to excellent service.


In August of 2017, Lexus dealership in Calgary found themselves facing a PR nightmare when Calgary Airport got rid of disabled parking stalls to create Lexus designated spots.

With so many one-star reviews, Lexus was able to turn around the situation in their favor by acknowledging that they were not happy that that happened.

By infusing their personality in the response, it came out authentic and genuine.

Offer an explanation

Sometimes an apology will not cut it and you need to go a step further and explain the situation. Avoid however making excuses even if the negative review is uncalled for.


When a customer complained of poor service at Mother Bear Pizza, the management responded to that by apologizing and giving an explanation that service is usually unpredictable during summer when their students are not around.

Offer compensation

If you have ever been on the receiving end of a poor service, you know how frustrating the situation can be mainly because you would not only have wasted your time but money in the process.

It’s even worse when the company just dismisses your complaint like it was nothing and like you are in no position to complain.

With that in mind, sometimes an apology will work but in some instances, a customer will feel better if some form of compensation was offered.


In 2016, a Dominion Pest Control Services customer complained of poor customer service from one of their customer service representatives when they called to reschedule an appointment. 

The Owner responded by apologizing and offering a discount due to the negative experience.

Take matters offline

Once you have apologized and acknowledged the issue, the next best thing you can do for the customer is to offer to resolve the issue offline to come to a resolution that works for both parties.

Give them your name, title as well as a way they can contact you directly to discuss the issue. This goes a long way than just apologizing online.

However, after they have contacted you, never ask them to take down their review because what that means to them is that you have something to hide and don’t care about resolving issues with your products and services.


A Honda of Thousand Oaks customer complained of being asked to pay despite the company promising free oil change when you brought your car back to the auto dealership.

The company apologized for the issue and asked the customer to contact their general manager directly to have the issue addressed, something that they have become good at.

Negative reviews are part and parcel of running a successful business even when in your best judgment you know that the customer is just unleashing their frustrations on you. The mistake that most companies make is thinking that they don’t need to address negative reviews especially when they have so many positive reviews. To protect the integrity of your company and business, you need to respond to these negative reviews in a way that shows consumers that you are committed to offering the best services.