How To Respond To Negative Reviews Online

by Toby

November 20, 2015

how to respond to negative reviews

And Submit Reviews For Removal

Have you been neglecting your business’ online reviews? Struggling with how to respond and what to do with the negative reviews your business has received?

Consider these sobering statistics:

  1. Nine in ten customers have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business, according to a study by Bright Local
  2. Four out of five customers will reverse a purchase decision after reviewing your business’ online reviews, according to Cone Research
  3. And another study found that one negative review can cost you up to 30 customers!

In this post, I cover an effective process for how to respond to negative online reviews about your business and how to submit negative reviews for possible removal from Yelp, Facebook, and Google.

It’s no surprise that today your online review reputation is critical to the success of your business. When every consumer has a smartphone with high-speed access to the Internet, they are only a click away to finding a higher rated business.

This begs the questions as a business owner, what are the best ways to deal with negative online reviews?

  1. Don’t be defensive: Managing yourself in this process is important. Don’t react poorly to negative reviews. And never respond immediately if you’re emotional about it – once you publish a response online everyone can see it. Take some time to process and gather the facts and remove your emotions.
  2. Don’t take it personally: Reacting as if the person is attacking you personally won’t help the situation. Best to remain non-emotional, objective, and to give the customer the benefit of the doubt.
  3. Respond professionally and publicly: You need to respond to all negative reviews. Negative online reviews that have not been responded create the perception that you as the owner or manager don’t really care.
  4. Take it offline as quickly as possible: After you’ve responded publicly to the review, if you can, reach out to the customer via phone or email and get them on the phone to discuss the situation. We have many clients that consistently get negative customer testimonials turned around quickly by immediately reaching out to the customer and addressing their concerns. Often this means comping them some sort of service, or at a minimum just making the situation right somehow. However, don’t feel bullied either and if you feel in the right then just make sure that you empathize with the customer but that you don’t agree.
  5. Submit the review for removal if it’s inappropriate: Sometimes you can get reviews removed, but only if they are inappropriate in some way, such as inappropriate comments or language, or just not relevant.

But the reality is that many online review sites will not remove anything unless it violates their guidelines or terms of service.  This is often hard for you the business owner when you know, as an example, the customer perhaps is not telling the truth.

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Here’s how to submit reviews of your business for review and possible removal from Yelp, Facebook, and Google My Business/Google Plus.

How To Submit A Review To Yelp For Possible Removal

Yelp Guidelines and Terms of Service:

Yelp’s Review Guidelines

You can also read Yelp’s Terms of Service.

On the individual review there’s a small flag in the lower right – click that.

How to report a Yelp review for possible removal.

Then you will get a drop-down menu of options that are similar to the content guidelines list:

Reporting Yelp Review, Inappropriate Review

The first item in the list makes you believe that you can report a review based on false information but here is a screenshot of what you will see if you select this option:

Yelp Review That Contains False Information

Once you select a viable option, you are asked to support that option with “proof” (specific details):

Reporting A Yelp Review With Supporting Evidence

When providing specific details, it is best to be very clear as to how the reviewer violated the guideline.  Here’s an example:

“We would like to request that this review be removed for hate speech.  When the reviewer states that our employee, Karen, cannot speak English and should not work at our business, we believe she is discriminating against her race which is a violation of content guidelines.  We would appreciate your support in removing this review.  Thank you for your time and consideration.”

Following submission of the flagged review, you get an email from Yelp that states the following:

Yelp’s Response After You Have Submitted A Review

Within 1-5 days, you get a notice of agreement or disagreement with your request for removal.

For other related Yelp posts: Yelp Ad Results, and How To Get Rid of Bad Yelp Reviews

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Facebook Review Removal Request:

For Facebook, you have to make sure you’re in the review tab or section of your business’s Facebook page. Comments which appear on your posts are different from reviews – you have control over comments so they can be deleted if need be. I don’t always recommend deleting a comment for a couple of reasons:

One, unless you feel it’s absolutely necessary as a disgruntled reviewer may feel like you’re just trying to make it go away and she may come after you on other social sites. And two, responding can show you are engaged and care about your customers.

But in the case you have a review on the review tab for your business’s Facebook page that you want to report, here’s how you do it.

Click the drop-down on the review:

How To Submit A Facebook Review For Removal

You select it and a box that says, “I don’t like this review”, you select it:


Then you get two options:

Tell Facebook What You Don’t Like About The Review

If you choose the first option, it is submitted to Facebook, and they review it. If you select the second option, you are presented with another set of options related to the Facebook Community Standards. Here is a link to the Facebook community standards.


When you select any of the above options, you are walked through a series of checkboxes related to the type of violation. For instance, if you select “It’s harassment or hate speech” you are presented with the following additional options:


For Facebook, the reporting method seems more limited versus Yelp.

But, Facebook does give you the option to ban the user from your page or to hide all from the user as seen below. In our experience, when you ban the user while the review is still there (and factored into your rating score), you cannot see the review anymore which is a good option.

You have the option to ban the Facebook reviewer

Google Plus Review Removal Request:

Always a good a good idea to read Google’s review guidelines.

To Submit a review to Google Plus, you flag it as shown below:

Submitting A Review For Removal on Google

Once you flag it, you are given the following options for reporting.  The options directly related to Google’s review content policies.

Google’s Review Policy Type – Select What Applies

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Hope this helps – leave your comments below about your experiences with any of these review sites.

About the author 


Toby is the co-founder of 39 Celsius. He has over 20 years of digital marketing experience and has started several different companies throughout his career.

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