Got A Negative Review Online – Now What?

Raphael Sebbag

We often get asked by our clients, “what’s the best process to manage negative google reviews, can we remove it?”

I want to mainly focus on handling seemingly legitimate reviews rather than removing reviews you just don’t like the sound of.

But to address that point quickly, to flag and potentially remove negative reviews in Google My Business (Maps), you will need to first check, does it fall foul of Google’s Prohibited and Restricted Content Policy? such as:

  • Spam and fake content
  • Off-topic
  • Restricted Content
  • Illegal content
  • Sexually explicit content
  • Offensive content
  • Dangerous & Derogatory content
  • Impersonation
  • Conflict of Interest

If after carefully reading these policies you think it should be removed, then by all means Flag the inappropriate review by following Google’s instructions here and see how it goes.

In a recently created process (March 2021), Google now does allow GMB profile owners to check the status of flagging inappropriate content on the GMB profile. Click here. In Google’s words, “Use this tool to report reviews for removal and check the status of reviews you’ve already escalated. Reviews that violate the Google review policies can be removed from Business Profiles on Google.”

So now back to the main point, let’s assume that the review your business received has the hallmarks of a legitimate review.

Firstly, if it’s your own business or you are in a position where it matters to you, you might be feeling hurt, misunderstood, confused, disrespected, even furious that someone could even stoop so low to public defame and shame your name or your business’s name in such a public way.

Which decent, law-abiding citizen would do something like that?

The reality is though, the internet has brought life-changing benefits, convenience and transparency to our daily lives.

At the same time it has also opened up a plethora of negativity due to the ease at which people can just start typing their opinions, through from the comfort of their own keyboard, rather than dealing with it like a mensch (a Yiddish term, loosely translated as a “good person”), face to face.

So negative reviews are a reality we have to deal with.


We have a choice – do we respond in kind with the same negative tone, or do we maintain an equilibrium of civility in our reply & show professionalism.

Unfortunately, I have seen some business owners take it all too personal and go on the offensive attacking the person who wrote it or complaining about how society is out to get them among other conspiracy theories.

A soft reply turns away wrath

In my experience of reading through many positive and negative review profiles, the best way to manage the negative reviews, whether legit or not, is to do the following:

  • Reply to the review, don’t ignore it or run away!
  • Keep your response neutral, don’t get personal or attack them, remember it’s a public forum and your brand will, unfortunately, suffer if you stoop down to their level.
  • Be brief
  • If possible state your name and position so it is seen as fully transparent and accountable.
  • State your values, e.g. on providing high levels of customer service, honesty, consistency, quality etc.
  • Try to resolve the matter offline if you feel it is potentially legit and if feasible provide your phone or email, again conveying transparency.

Here’s a sample reply you can swipe:

Hi [Name], thanks for taking the time to provide your feedback, service is a priority for our organisation and we take all feedback sincerely (your values). Whilst we cannot find your name in our system, if you have a legitimate issue and are/were a client of ours, we’d be happy to discuss your circumstances directly (sincerity to resolve the issue). Please call [Me/Us] (accountability) directly on this number xxxxx xxxx and I will ensure you your matter is dealt with promptly.

Whilst the above text may not suit all cases, it has most of what you need to display a positive approach to negative reviews.

When people research your brand or company and see such reviews and your neutral, yet genuine response, they will see how you have dealt with the negative review in a polite, professional manner showing that you value high standards of customer service and that you take feedback seriously – which is how it should be.

In fact, a study has found that brands may, in fact, benefit when customer write reviews about their product/service, even when those reviews include negative opinions.

To close with a quote from a fantastic, positive book called the Growth Mindset,

“In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I’m going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here’s a chance to grow.”

– Carol Dweck

So now that we have dealt with how to handle (and GROW from) negative reviews, let’s now turn our attention to getting some positive reviewsclick here to see a quick and effective way to generate positive reviews in Google My Business (or any other platform for that matter).

Happy reviewing!

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