When someone leaves a negative review, they’re trying to air your dirty laundry. They’re trying to feel ‘right’ about an experience – in the only way they know how.

The intended audience isn’t you – most of the time they probably could care less if you liked them or not.

This is about hurting your business and reputation, so in any case, must be addressed.

Don’t flip the bird – this is what you do instead.

As someone who doesn’t particularly like conflict (and will go out of my way to avoid it) – I’d just want to let it go.
And if it’s a troll-ish or minor complaint, I really couldn’t be bothered.

Negative Review (Fake) – mister jones Bermagui

These awful (and obviously fake reviews) are for ‘Mister Jones’ – a Cafe in Bermagui, NSW.
A single misstep, a ‘lefty’ message in a highly conservative town caught the attention of public + social media.
Unfortunately – this resulted in an onslaught of fake, abusive reviews, and even death threats.

It might be obvious that a negative review can hurt potential customers, but it can also hurt existing customers too.
Gartner determined that not responding to negative reviews can lead to a 15% increase in clients taking their business elsewhere.


So shrug it off, and get-a-typin’

Types of negative reviews

1. False or Fake Negative Reviews

These are actually the hardest to deal with. Unless they are obviously inauthentic, then a would-be customer may come across them and believe them.

This is why it is so important to address all reviews – trolling or otherwise.

2. A Truthful review of a bad experience (or a little from column A + B)

I’m going to tell you something you won’t like to hear.
Even if they are a hell-on-wheels customer: if they leave you a bad review – you’ll have to make things right.

Negative Reviews – what to do


The saying goes “don’t feed the troll…”

Here’s the “professional” way to respond to complaints in 5 parts.

(note – this is probably the most proper way to handle it, but I like to have fun. Read on to know what I mean.)

Part 1: Answer the review in a timely manner

Within 24 hours – and address them directly (by name).
On most platforms, comments and replies are timestamped – so it is important to be quick to respond.

“Hey @imadoosh23, thanks for reaching out –”

Part 2: If they are fake: Call them out.

If you have evidence to suggest that they are not real, then present it.
If they aren’t a customer of yours (or are obviously a fake profile), then address it.

“You aren’t a client of ours, so although I am flattered you went out of your way to leave a review – I can’t figure out why. In any case –”

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Part 3: If they are a customer but the complaint is completely untrue…

You really have two options at this point.

  1. Call them out (succinctly); or
  2. Be bland + generic.

I prefer option 2.


Calling them out on their fake review is extremely hard to do without seeming catty.

Not feeding the troll makes them look like a troll, and also will show them that you really don’t give a shit.
Go for generic ‘sorry kinda’:

“– sorry to hear that you hadn’t had an enjoyable experience with our service –”

Part 3: If the complaint is true (but it was out of your control)

Sincerely apologise, but briefly explain that it was out of your hands.

Part 3: If the complaint is true and you flapjacked up

Apologise. Don’t excuse your mistake, but you’re able to address it:

“– my sincerest apologies that I missed your appointment –”

Part 4: The offer

For both false and truthful negative reviews.

The offer: What you’re going to do to make things right, and the timeframe for how long it to happen.

Yep – how annoying.
As if you want to offer them a discount or some kind of generosity for leaving a nasty review.
Especially if this was their intention. I can’t stand people who believe “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”, and complain in order to get things for free.

The fact of the matter is – you don’t have to give them jack if you don’t want to.
You just have to appear that you are.

“I’d like an opportunity to make things right – since we stand by our [product/service/quality/whatever]”

Which brings me to…

Part 5: Ask them to contact you privately.

7/10 times – they won’t contact you again, and the matter will be sorted.

10% of the time you might get a follow up message that is equally annoyed and demanding. But you don’t have to do anything at this point – it’s private. Most of the initial rage (should have) calmed down, so they’ll be less motivated to continue spreading rage.
They might badmouth you to their friends, but do you really want clients that keep friends like this jerk anyway?

The other 20% of the time will surprise you.
They’ll likely either change their review (after feeling like a d-bag), or they’ll apologise. Truly.

Or.. the way I prefer to handle negative reviews…

If I ever got one 😉


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