“Not a normal human being” (How NOT to respond to negative reviews)

Watching a business owner meltdown over a negative review is one of those unique phenomena that can make you cringe, laugh and feel embarrassed all at once. In our blog series – “How NOT to respond to negative reviews” – we’ll take a look at some poor responses and breakdown what to do/what not to do with bad reviews. That way, your business never shows up on here. 😉

This ugly interaction between an unsatisfied traveler and hotel owner has more than its fair share of problems.

Problem 1: The response is rushed. Everything about this response, from the tone it takes to the numerous typos, suggests the owner didn’t take the time to think about an effective response. It reflects poor professionalism to anyone reading the review. (Now, this might have been intentional because the owner wanted to be nasty, and we’ll get to why that’s not a good move next).

Give yourself a moment, then respond. Yes, time is of the essence when your business’ reputation is on the line. Calm down, think of a response that reflects the values you want others to see in your business, and proofread it.

Problem 2: The owner gets hostile.  “There must be something wrong with you.” Yikes. The owner makes public what should have just stayed in his head. The reviewer is clearly being irrational complaining about the hotel not having a bathroom for his/her dog, yet the owner manages to make him/herself seem just as irrational with the response.

Take the high road (even though it’s hard). Again, this discussion is public, so calm down. It will only look good to prospective customers that you can handle a negative review with grace. You might dislike the reviewer and don’t want to say sorry because you weren’t wrong, but you can express regret for the bad experience. That way, you’re also showing empathy and not being fake about it because you do regret that someone wrote a 1 star.

Problem 3: The finger pointing. The rest of the owner’s response mostly consists of accusations (not to mention the impossible claim of having zero complaints in 18 years). This shows immaturity and can exacerbate the issue, potentially leading to a back and forth argument.

Respond with the facts, politely. In this case, the owner should have highlighted the hotel’s commitment to quality and outlined the policies in a matter-of-fact fashion. This approach works in defending the reputation of the hotel, without coming off patronizing or defensive. Any other discussion of what may have happened during the reviewer’s stay is subjective and should be out of the public eye.

It’s fair to assume this hotel owner lost the business of this reviewer and potentially anyone who came across the response. If you run into a similar situation, try to remember these tips or use this handy infographic to figure out the best way to respond to a negative review.


Doctors Reply Poorly Too

We’re back with another misadventure in “How NOT to respond to a negative review”. This time, a doctor is faced with a seriously frustrated patient and throws a fit. 

Here’s why the doctor’s response is no bueno:

The doctor doesn’t seem to know about HIPAA: The reviewer remains anonymous perhaps as a way to act rude and not be held accountable or face any retribution. It’s not fair. But any medical professional should be well versed with the confidentiality and privacy laws surrounding patient medical information (in the US it’s known as HIPAA). Although the reviewer is the one who willingly discloses some details of his or her medical information. the doctor should have acted in the patient’s best interest and attached contact information to immediately take the conversation offline rather than insult back (“childish and abhorrent”) and maybe prod the patient to reveal more information.

There’s no room for a conversation: Even though the reviewer comes off as intense, they appear to bring up some legitimate frustrations. They certainly aren’t being a “cyber bully” as the doctor puts it. Medical facilities, no matter the size or scope of practice, are often very complex and may have strict policies that can be frustrating but necessary to keep things organized. Following treatment plans can also seem needlessly tedious if left unexplained as well. The doctor closes the door on an opportunity to clearly explain the policies and treatment plan that may have been the source of frustration in the first place, both by responding unprofessionally and by failing to post contact information to further the discussion offline.

The doctor goes on an ego trip: While it’s certainly tough to hear criticism, it inevitably happens to the best in the business. Instead of responding professionally, this doctor chooses defensive and demeaning language to try to belittle the reviewer. The finishing line is a dead giveaway that this doctor is simply carrying an inflated head on his/her shoulders. In situations like these, it’s always best to stay humble, make an apology, and keep it professional.

Though the reviewer makes churlish remarks, the doctor’s poor response seems to validate the reviewer’s accusations. If this doctor had responded politely and offered to address the frustrations privately, it’s possible the reviewer would have edited or taken down this review or at least let potential patients see the doctor is in fact professional.

For more in this series of “How NOT to reply to a negative review”, check out:

Example of A Good Response to a Negative Review… Almost

Welcome to the 3rd installment of “How NOT to Respond to a Negative Review” – a series of blog posts in which we analyze actual online interactions between business owners and their patrons to help you navigate what to do (and what not to do) when it comes to proper management of reviews. We typically provide examples of bad responses to negative reviews, but today we wanted to mix things up by showing you an example of a (relatively) good response to a bad review & explaining how and why it works.

You’ll find a lot of good points made in this response, though it’s certainly not without its flaws. Let’s dive in and take a look at the Pros and Cons of this Eurocar owner response.


  1. The owner conveys a general sense of politeness and respect. While they employ a succinct and firm tone, this owner has been careful not to veer into the pitfalls of labeling or emotionally reactive behavior.
  2. The owner addresses the issue head-on. The customer’s concern is straightforward: prices are higher than competition. Here, we can see that the owner jumps right into the reply without tip-toeing around the matter at hand.
  3. The owner asserts product quality and offers conflict resolution. They are able to tout premium quality of their parts while simultaneously offering to price match competitors—notice the catch here is that the owner is confident that comparable businesses are in fact using inferior parts, hence why their prices are lower.


  1. The response is untimely (getting back a year later simply doesn’t cut it). Reaching out in a thoughtful and productive manner is only half the battle—make sure to do so quickly, or your response may fall on deaf ears.
  2. The owner fails to show gratitude for the review. While doing so may require you to swallow a bit of pride, demonstrating your gratefulness for any feedback on your company will show others openness and class.

The big takeaway from all this that you don’t have to be so eager to make pesky reviews disappear. Getting creative with your approach to review management can be an invaluable asset. At the very least, poor reviews can provide a good learning experience for you and your employees. And oftentimes, in cases such as this, they can be a way to showcase some of your company’s greatest strengths.