Small business is not for the faint hearted. They say, it’s the only time you leave a 40 hour a week job you don’t love, to work 80 hour weeks for less pay. Every day a new challenge will present itself and initially, you’ll spend significant time away from family and friends, not really knowing if it’s going to pay off. You’ll pour your soul into your business, second guess every decision and kill yourself ensuring your service standard is high and the only thing that will propel you forward is the comments from customers telling you you’ve made a difference to their lives.

BUT eventually it will happen, the one or two star review on Facebook or Google, and your heart will sink into a deep deep pit and you’ll wonder if you have made a huge mistake.

Worse still, the negative review may not be warranted, may not be true, may not have been raised with you previously, giving you a chance to rectify, or may be left by some who ISN’T EVEN YOUR CUSTOMER. Which is why responding is so important.

There’s a couple of do’s and don’ts when responding to reviews that you must follow, because whether you know it or not, your community is now watching to see how you cope in the face of a challenge.


  1. Respond to all reviews that are two to three lines long, not just the negative ones – you want to validate the reviews where your customers have taken the time to detail their experience with you. This does not mean responding to every single two-word comment left. If a customer has taken the time to write a proper review – good or bad – leave a response
  2. Respond to all negative reviews, whether they are two-words, or fifty
  3. Personalise your responses. Our customers are savvy, intelligent people and the only thing that annoys them more than not leaving a response, is leaving one that is generic and impersonal. Take time to remember that this person made an effort to leave a response for you, you should do the same
  4. Be genuine and honest, especially when responding to a negative review. If you have made a big mistake take the necessary steps to rectify it. Old and new customers alike will be delighted to see that you right your wrongs and will feel confident buying from you in the future
  5. BE EXTRA CAREFUL when responding to negative emails or texts. Just remember you are one screenshot away from being annihilated. Most customers will attempt to address a negative experience with you first privately, but if your response was less than impressive, get ready to read it on your Facebook page or worse still, a site like Mamamia!


  1. Immediately accept blame or responsibility when responding to a negative review and do be careful with your words. At this point, what you are trying to do is further understand what went wrong. Comment with “I am sorry to hear you have had this experience and I want to do everything within my power to assist. This is not at all how we want our customers to feel, and I want to discuss this with at your earliest convenience so we can turn this experience around. You can either call me on 0411 111 111 or send me an email at …@….com with your best contact number and a time that suits you for a return call.”
  2. Get emotional. It’s super easy to make this personal. Someone has just attacked your business and you are majorly pissed! Even if it was your fault, you didn’t mean it and this person should understand, but they don’t and they don’t care what circumstance lead to this shitty experience they’re now having. So before working yourself into a state of anger, take a deep breath, make a cuppa and just remember that one bad review is a drop in the bucket. You are a good person, that runs a solid business, but how you respond to this negative review could change how other customers perceive you and your brand
  3. Pretend your business is bigger than it is. I hate dealing with business owners who pretend they’re a big corporate. I once had an experience with a lady who I hired a party trailer from for my 30th birthday. Her son arrived stoned to deliver it. The batteries were dead on the karaoke machine, the beer pump and slushie machines were broken and the thing was disgusting. My husband spent an hour cleaning it, we had to hire another slushie machine and had a keg we couldn’t use. When her son delivered it he said “sorry, we had a bit of a party last night, don’t tell mum hey”. When I phoned her to ask for a discount on at least the difference I had to pay to hire another slushie machine, she said “I’ll need to check with our accounts department to see if this is viable”. She was the ‘accounts department’ and was simply trying to buy time. It really pissed me off and guess who I told …. EVERYONE! I’ve since noticed that this woman has dropped the price of her party trailer from $750 to $499 – my guess, sales ain’t going so well
  4. Delete reviews!! There is nothing worse than having a comment that says “I have repeatedly attempted to leave a negative review and the owner keeps deleting it.” When I see comments like this, I walk away from the business immediately. It reflects dishonesty and exhibits a complete lack of empathy and scruples on the owners part and I don’t want to do business with anyone like that

Negative reviews are a fact of business and life, but when you don’t respond, whether the comment is true or not, it’s an admission of guilt. Most customers have the wits to understand that one bad review is not indicative of their potential experience with you and research shows that 87% of people who leave a review have either had an amazing experience or a crap one, it’s often unlikely that you will have many 2, 3 or 4 star reviews, so it’s important that you take the time to respond to the customers who provide positive feedback and equally as important that you take the time to acknowledge not-so-great experiences. Negative feedback provides you with a catalyst to improve on your service delivery and value offering.


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Ahhh Smokey Dawson – the elusive creative who leaves hundreds of reviews on businesses he’s never been a customer of. This guy lives locally. He is well known for leaving a multitude of negative comments on all the businesses in our area and only comments positively on businesses owned by Indians. He, himself is an Indian. Now I’m no genius, but something sinister is going on here with this mans review technique. When this happens ABSOLUTELY respond with “Sir, you have never been a customer of this business and I will kindly ask you to remove this review”
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Respond to all negative feedback, even when the customer leaves no comment.


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Take the time to respond to all reviews, not just the negative ones.

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