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How to Respond to a Negative Online Review

By Deanne Katz, Esq. | Last updated on

It's important to figure out how to respond to a negative review on Yelp or another website because sooner or later it will happen to you.

A negative online review isn't the end of the world but how you respond to it could be. Customers can dismiss a negative review as uncharacteristic. A disproportionate response by the business owner is harder to brush away.

That doesn't mean you should sit on your hands and just let it happen. There are several choices of how to respond to negative reviews.

It's of course an option to just ignore the review. While negative reviews aren't great for business if it's just one out of many, it may not be worth your time.

But if you want to address it the first step is generally to consider the substance of the review. Is it based on the writer's opinion or does it include facts about your business that you don't believe are true?

If the review is based on opinion, it's up to you to change the reviewer's mind. You might be able to sway them by inviting them to come back to your business and try your services again. An apology can also go a long way if you think that the problems are truly not representative of your business.

If the review is based on facts that you believe are untrue, ask the reviewer to describe their experience to you. Don't name-call or point fingers, says Entrepreneur. Instead try to understand how your view of your business differs from theirs.

It may be possible to solve the issue right there.

But if the negative review is harming your business and your attempts to reach out to the reviewer have fallen on deaf ears, the legal process can be your last resort.

A lawsuit for defamation can be an option if you're dealing with a negative review. A case for defamation requires that the defendant made and published false statements and those statements damaged your business.

Before filing suit, talk to an experienced attorney who can help you understand the risks and benefits of a defamation lawsuit.

Online reviews can be a benefit to small businesses but they can also be harmful. Know how to respond constructively to negative reviews and you won't have to lose sleep over them.

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