Clapping Back on Negative Reviews

Social media is fast becoming the top place to leave a review to a restaurant, hotel or retail experience. My husband always goes to Facebook to canvass answers to retail questions from his friends and family.


It is also the first place my husband looks to for opinions on everything from where to buy his latest hockey stick, to where to procure the diamond tiara I have always coveted, to celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary. Note to my hubby: cubic zirconia is not an acceptable option.

Negative Reviews affect Everyone – the reviewer and the reviewed

Of course, when reviews are good and rate 5 out of 5 stars, life is very good for that business. But when the reviews are bad, they can be damaging to a company’s reputation, and may even cause its demise, especially for those small businesses who rely on word of mouth and the kindness of clients. It is one thing, to keep the negative review to the facts and the experience that went south. It is clearly another thing, to use the “reviewers” platform as a place to rant and exaggerate the negative experience in such a way that it shames the establishment. Perhaps, it is a strategy for the reviewer, to receive compensation in return for a bad experience.

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This folks, is not a negative review, but a move on the reviewer’s part to discredit and shame the place that did not meet the reviewer’s expectations. Regulating speech is a particularly thorny question for platforms which solicit customer feedback, as their value springs from being unfiltered and independent. In the case of the article hyperlinked earlier, the platform was TripAdvisor, infamous really, for negative reviews it publishes about hotels, restaurants and airlines. In the course of trying to shame the hotel, the review took on a sinister tone, with the reviewer implying quite flagrantly that the staff acted disrespectful and discriminatory towards them. This review appeared spiteful and malicious, and it reflected poorly on the reviewer.

Turning a Negative into a Positive

Nowadays, there are many more constructive and creative ways to respond to negative reviews. It is also the way in which a company responds that is key and crucial to their survival. It is best to take the time to prepare a well-thought-out response, that may or may not address the issue at hand, and this really depends on each review, their tone, their claim, and whether or not, this review holds any merit or water. It is also important for the response to be polite and proactive. The below response from the hotel was this:

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This is a great example of how a company can take something negative and turn it into a positive just by taking the time to see the review for what it truly was, a nasty, subjective tirade, that was poorly communicated and extreme in nature. Although the response from the hotel did not address the actual complaint, the hotel took this opportunity to turn the tables on the reviewer, and expose their review as petty, and much less compelling to potential customers.

Spinning the Negative

Perhaps all businesses can learn from this hotel in Bristol. It took its time to respond, in a polite and directed way. Although the hotel did not address the mistakes that occurred during this case, it did turn things around, by spinning the negative, yet highly extreme and subjective review, to its advantage. And the hotel came out on top, smelling like roses.

Can a negative review reflect badly on the reviewer? It certainly can. Businesses can clap back too. Here are my thoughts:

Facebook: Last shameful plug for my fourth and final blog for my Algonquin Intro to Social Media course. Btw, I loved this course even though there was a lot of work involved!! Shout out to Alexandra, who is a really great prof!

Twitter: Read my blog: Negative reviews can reflect badly on the reviewer, true story: Clapping Back on Negative Reviews

6 thoughts on “Clapping Back on Negative Reviews

  1. Hi! This was an excellent read! It’s very rare to see a business respond with a clapback and they should definitely start. I feel like a lot of people complain because they figure they could get refund or some other incentive. Businesses need to start stepping up and defending their name in a respectful way.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, views, and for reading! I agree with you that businesses need to find new and fresh ways to defend themselves, and also have policies and responses at the ready for those many customers who feel they can get away with a freebie, by being nasty. On the other hand, I think companies should also provide incentives or some type of loyalty rewards to those clientele who are historically good and loyal to their brand, and not to just anybody who has a bad experience, or try to milk the system in any way. Their competitors are doing it, and they should too.

  2. It is true, reviews are being left and they leave a huge impact on someone’s business.

    I know for me, I was looking for a med spa to have a facial done and where did I look to.. yes Instagram, google, and facebook for reviews and photos.

    Negative reviews do affect everyone, I think. I know my friend gave a bad review for the gym we were attending because they unjustly charged us both. The gym owner could have easily fixed the problem but he chose to continue to charge us. I did not make it a big deal because this gym did help my gain my confidence back post baby.

    Great read.

    • Thanks for your comments. I am sorry that the gym owner did not choose to rectify your situation – it is his loss! I am sure he is doing that to others, and someday, it will go back to hurt his business. I am glad you were able to gain confidence back post partum – that is hard, but I did that too at my gym. What do you think the owner could have done to fix the problem of over-charging you and your friend? Maybe a few free gym entries?

  3. Great post! Personally, I find that I tend to leave more reviews for negative experiences rather than positive ones. As your post mentioned, a part of my reasoning is definitely to discredit the business (horrible, I know), but I also do it hoping that the business will get back to me to rectify the situation. When I read reviews online, I always check to see if the business has taken the time to respond to reviews and the manner in which they respond. If the business is defensive and unapologetic, I tend to avoid going there altogether. On the other hand, if I see that a business is apologetic and solution-focused, I tend to ignore the negative reviews knowing that there is a certain level of customer service I can expect. When working with my clients, I always suggest having templated responses to reply to different types of reviews to ensure that personal emotions aren’t involved when responding.

  4. This blog is very interesting to read. Every time my husband and I want to do something new and interesting, we take the opportunity to read the review. However, I like how you explained that you can turn a negative review into a positive review. Not a lot of people would do this. I had an experience once and try to lay out all the positives and provide a little bit of the negative.

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