Responding to Criticism Online



Whether it be on Yelp, Google, LinkedIn, social media, or even your own website, customers will find a way to criticize your business. So while you may think to ignore this criticism found online, it is necessary that each review is addressed appropriately. After all, as The Social Network (2010) points out, “The internet isn’t written in pencil, it’s written in ink.”

Here are 6 Tips on How to Respond to Criticism Online:

1. Be aware.

In order to properly address the criticism that customers leave online, you must first be aware of where they are posting and what sites your customers frequently visit. Become aware of your presence online by doing your research based on your target market. For instance, if you cater more to college students or young adults, social media sites will most likely be their outlet. Try to designate someone within your company to be frequently monitoring or notified when a review has been posted, so every review is addressed.

2. Don’t delete.

While it may seem like the easiest solution to get rid of negative reviews, do not delete them. Deleting will only make the angry angrier and can be perceived as covering up an issue or appearing guilty. Responding to a complaint shows your customers you truly care about their problems and they will ultimately appreciate the effort.

According to research by CRM software company RightNow, 1 out of every 3 consumers who receive a retailer response to their online complaint end up reposting a positive review. In addition, 34% of these consumers end up deleting their negative review altogether[1].

3. Be timely.

Responding quickly is the best way to minimize the damage caused by these comments. If one negative review does not get a response in a timely manner, this allows the opportunity for additional negative comments to be left. Make sure you set aside some time to devote to responding to reviews so that your customers have your full attention.

4. Be honest.

It’s one thing to simply apologize, but it’s another to actively fix the issue. Tell your customers how you are going to address their complaint and what the next steps will be. Let them understand that you take their criticisms seriously and that there is a plan in place to handle the problem. Assess the truth of their negative statements, but take a positive approach. If their complaint is the same as several others, it may be time to reevaluate that aspect of your business and let your customers know you are working internally to fix it. If information happens to be incorrect, it is still your responsibility to fix the mistake to avoid other future customers seeing the false statement.

5. Be sincere.

It may be difficult to remain calm when reading a negative review, so take a deep breath first and then respond sincerely. Don’t be defensive, for these people are writing reviews based on their individual experience they had with your business.

“People are not looking for perfection online,” said Shama Kabani, CEO of The Marketing Zen Group. “What they’re really looking for is humanity and a genuine response, so a negative review can be a great opportunity to respond in a positive and transparent manner. And that has a good impact on all your customers.”[2]

6. Be direct.

Based on the type of review and severity of the issue, it may be your best course of action to take the conversation offline and deal with the issue one-on-one. Give the customer your name, title, and best form of contact to allow them to discuss the situation further and invite more feedback. This shows that you take their reviews seriously and truly value your customers.


Have you gotten any negative reviews online? If so, how did you handle the situation? Share below!


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