Why Silencing Negative Reviews Is a Bad Idea?


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Leaving negative reviews after having an unpleasant experience with a company is natural customer behavior. At the same time, businesses may feel like deleting online reviews for the sake of improving their brand image.

While it may seem the most straightforward course of action, trying to silence critics by removing reviews is a poor choice. In fact, it is often the case that any attempts to delete or remove public negative feedback will actually exacerbate the situation.

This opposite outcome is sometimes referred to as the Streisand Effect, a term given to an instance whereby an individual or company’s efforts to censor facts or feedback on them instead actually attract more attention to the undesirable information.

What framework must companies conform to when dealing with reviews?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published a set of guidelines, which stipulate that companies cannot:

  • require customers to provide positive reviews as a part of their purchase agreement
  • threaten legal action against customers who post negative reviews
  • exclude negative reviews
  • prevent or discourage people from leaving negative reviews
  • edit reviews
  • to alter their message

Sweeping the problem under the carpet being removed as an option, a more constructive plan is in order. What, then, must you consider when providing responses to online reviews?

How do you make negative reviews work in your favor?

It has been proven time after time that the best way to respond to a negative review is to use empathetic, honest, and direct language.

Whereas the absolute worst approach to dealing with consumer feedback is being defensive. What usually drives a consumer to write an online review is the feeling that they have been wronged, hence they seek acknowledgment of this belief. So, aim for a compromise.

Your response should be honest and empathize with their frustrations. Assure them that you will work on the issue, so they don’t have any more problems, and show that you take their distresses seriously.

It’s an investment

Creating a well-thought-out response reduces the loss of future revenue and relationships by reassuring your public that you are working on the issue while demonstrating an empathetic understanding of their difficulties.

You can also maintain a positive dialog by carefully following up with the reviewer and asking if they feel the situation has improved or if there is any more that you can do.

If you are considerate and organized in your approach to interacting with your customers and engaging with feedback, you will see existing and future reviews change from negative to positive, as customers see their complaints dealt with courteously and professionally.

One positive turnaround review like this can sell your company to a prospective customer better than a dozen outright positive ones.


  • If someone leaves a positive review, thank them and encourage others who have had similar experiences to leave their own reviews.
  • If someone leaves a negative review, thank them for their feedback, apologize for any inconvenience they have experienced, and resolve to understand their issue and take any reasonable action that could remedy the situation.
  • Keep your replies concise and personal.
  • Make sure you respond thoughtfully and don’t get defensive.
  • Address the concerns expressed in customer reviews in your responses. If their concern has been resolved, let them know.

Allowing your customers to express their authentic impressions of your business is a good choice on the path of paving a positive brand image. On the contrary, trying to silence the voices of dissatisfied customers may lead not only to ruining your business reputation but to financial losses. Treating your customers with respect and caring for their issues with your company will pay off.

Michael Podolsky
Co-founder and CEO of PissedConsumer.com, a review and reputation management platform. Having 20 years of experience on Wall Street, I’ve become an independent entrepreneur and am now actively involved in entrepreneurship, technology development, search optimization, leadership, customer service, and consumer advocacy.


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