How to Respond to Negative Online Reviews

by Joette De Fratus


Before Yelp, Google, and Facebook, new clients heard about you through their friends or spotted your sign from the street. Today, they find you online. And they do their research. They want details about your services. They want to compare prices. And they want to know what other clients are saying about you before they book an appointment or walk through your doors.

The fact is star-ratings and reviews have a real impact on your bottom line. Positive reviews can attract new clients and lead to repeat business. Negative reviews can hurt your reputation. But don’t panic! Negative reviews are manageable. And when handled correctly, your response can help build trust and show other readers how much you care about your clients.

The Inevitable Negative Review

Every business receives a negative review at some point. It’s important to know that a bad review does not equal bad business. Most often, negative feedback is the result of mismatched expectations or simply a bad day on the part of the reviewer. Bad reviews can also make good reviews look better. A study by Harvard Business School found the majority of consumers trust reviews more when they see a mix of good and bad feedback.

The key to addressing negative feedback is to move quickly. Acknowledge the review as soon as possible — ideally within 24 hours. Reply and let them know you’re investigating it further. Once you have insight into the situation, pick up the phone and contact the client directly. Online replies can be misconstrued, so it helps to talk through the client’s concerns and identify areas where your team can improve.

Don’t recognize the client who posted the review? Note that in your response. Ask that they contact you at their earliest convenience to address their concerns. And be sure to post a public response and detail any resolutions that were met. 78% of online reviewers said that businesses who actively responded to reviews appeared more trustworthy.

Turning Negative Feedback Into a Positive

Sometimes, customers who feel they’ve been heard may take down their negative review or improve the rating. Animal Emergency Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan recently received a critical, 2-star review that triggered their team into action. Dr. Stephen Comer and his team reached out to the client directly. They were compassionate, transparent, and timely in their response. Once all concerns were addressed, the client updated their review to a 4-star rating.

A client updates their 2-star review to a 4-star review after Animal Emergency Hospital reaches out.

How We Help

NVA provides every hospital and pet resort in our community access to BirdEye, NVA’s online reputation management tool. The platform monitors 200+ websites and notifies you via email when a client has posted a new review about your hospital or pet resort. You can quickly address negative (or positive) feedback right from the dashboard using a template or draft your own response.
In addition, BirdEye also provides support on: 
  • Tracking your presence online
  • Requesting reviews from your best clients
  • Comparing your clients’ feedback to your top 3 competitors
  • Repurposing positive reviews as testimonials

Download “Reputation Management 101: NVA’s guide to ORM” for more insight.

To learn more about managing your online reputation contact Joette De Fratus at

Joette De Fratus


Support Center | Agoura Hills, CA

Joette is a part of the Marketing team and serves the NVA community by partnering with hospitals and resorts to enhance their social media and online reputation efforts. She shares her home with her husband, toddler and four-legged son, Charlie.

2 Responses

  1. Lisa Cardona says:

    Download “Reputation Management 101: NVA’s guide to ORM” for more insight. I am clicking on the above link in the article and it’s directing me to log in…I do not have a log in …can you please email the above article? Thank you so much.

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