How To Respond to Negative Reviews or Comments on a Blog

My in-laws built and manage a bed & breakfast on a beautiful lake in northern California. With input from family members who know web design and marketing (myself included), they’ve done a nice job promoting the B & B, creating their own website and managing social media such as Facebook and travel and review websites such as Trip Advisor and Yelp.

While the reviews are generally extremely positive, my father-in-law panics each time he sees anything less than stellar critiques of his baby. While it’s currently ranked #2 of the 11 B&Bs and inns in Lakeport on TripAdvisor, he’s sure no one will ever come (or come back) if they think what he’s giving them isn’t the very best available. He forgets that everyone has their own opinions of what the “best” really is.

How you respond can make things better – or much, much worse, drawing more attention to issues you might have preferred to handle privately.

So, how should a business (whether a B&B or multinational software company) respond if their reputation is questioned?

  1. Think Objectively: Decide how significant the issue is and the credibility of who is posting it. If the review or comment is posted in anger or facetiously or uses abusive language, or is similar to a post the poster has written about all of your competitors, it’s likely best to ignore it or have it removed, which is possible on most consumer review sites.
  2. Acknowledge the problem: Acknowledge the issue, apologize for the situation without taking blame (especially if you weren’t wrong), and ask for more details and/or how you can remedy the situation. Say you will investigate and find a solution, if appropriate. Ask to discuss privately, but consider that responding online shows readers you are taking care of the problem.
  3. Keep it Professional: Don’t argue or respond in an angry fashion. Don’t say they are wrong in a public forum, even if the problem was on their end.
  4. Consider a “Thank You:” Constructive feedback can be very helpful since it can help make your business even better. If appropriate, thank them for taking time to comment so you can address the issue, especially if you didn’t know it had happened (or was happening) until reading the review.
  5. Recommend Happy Customers Comment too: Don’t try to flood your social media with positive reviews, especially the un-authentic, but give customers that love your product or service an easy way to post their thoughts. For example, if you’ve received a positive email from a customer or had a positive conversation with a guest at your B&B, respond with a link to your social media and travel review site so they can go right on and post their positive thoughts while they are fresh in their mind.


Before you can respond at all, you need to make sure you’re reviewing your social media pages or anywhere else where a negative review or comment can be posted so you are aware they are out there.  You can also set up a Google Alert for your business, which will alert you any time your company name is mentioned, positively or negatively.

While you might not be able to get an upset customer to return, responding to them professionally and logically online will look much better when future customers go looking for your company or the products or services you provide.

Do you have any examples of how you’ve properly handled negative reviews? Or any mistakes you wish you could take back?