Reputation Defenders

How to respond to negative reviews

How to respond to negative reviews
Steven Maddocks

18 min


How To Respond To Negative Reviews

Businesses are always looking for ways to improve their customer experience. One way is to ensure that every interaction with a potential client goes smoothly. This includes responding to negative and positive reviews left online.

Businesses that respond to negative and positive reviews significantly increase in positive feedback.

The Impact of Negative Feedback on Your Business

Negative feedback is like bullets flying out of nowhere. They hurt, and it takes some getting used to. But how do you deal with them? And what impact does having negative reviews have on your business?

According to Harvard Business Review, leaders that prioritize asking for critical or negative customer reviews are seen as more effective by their superiors, employers, and peers. In contrast, those who seek primarily positive feedback are ranked much lower in effectiveness.

Our research found that most businesses don't know how to respond to negative feedback.

  • Only 13% of potential customers will consider a company with 1 star or less.
  • 94% of consumers report that they've been persuaded by negative reviews to avoid a company.
  • 53% of customers believe businesses should respond to their negative feedback within one week.
  • 45% of consumers report that they're more likely to visit a business if it responds to negative reviews.

There are three different types of responses:

  • A simple thank you note
  • An automated response, such as "We're sorry to hear that."
  • A personalized response, such as "Thank you for reaching out to us. We appreciate your feedback. Please contact our support team directly if we can help you further."

The results showed that businesses using a simple thank you note saw a 33% increase in positive feedback. Companies using an automated response saw a 34% increase in positive feedback, while those using a personalized reaction saw a whopping 37% increase in positive feedback! Excellent customer service can solve a lot of problems.

Steps To Responding To Unhappy Customers

You've probably received some bad reviews lately: angry comments from upset customers about your product or service, perhaps even one or two negative ones. In fact, according to a recent survey, 81% of consumers say they read online reviews before buying something. So it pays to respond quickly.

The best way to do that is to acknowledge the complaint without making excuses. "I'm sorry to hear that," or "We're working hard to improve our products/services" are good ways to start. Then address the specific issue raised in the comment or review. If possible, offer a solution, such as a refund or free shipping. And finally, thank the person for taking the time to write a review on review sites.

Step 1: Respond Quickly To Feedback

The phrase "time is money" couldn't be more spot-on, especially when responding quickly to customer feedback.

As a business owner, you probably have a lot of things on your plate. You might be running your day-to-date operations, servicing clients, managing and motivating your employees, and handling everything else that needs to be done. And while those are important tasks, they don't take up most of your time.

But that one negative experience you just read about your business online? It shouldn't be a mere afterthought — it should be your priority because it represents a potential opportunity to improve your business.

Almost half of the consumers say that reading a negative review about local businessess influences whether or not they will patronize that establishment.

So what do you do when someone leaves a scathing review about your restaurant? What happens when someone posts a negative comment about your salon? Or maybe someone left a less-than-favorable review about your gym?

Well, there are several steps you can take to address these types of situations. Excellent customer service can manage these situations.

Step 2: Acknowledge the Customer's Complaint

Business owners are often tempted to lash out at customers who post reviews about their businesses. This is understandable since it feels like someone just took a shot at you. However, doing so could hurt your brand. You might be defensive, unapproachable, or even rude when responding. Instead, try acknowledging the complaint without responding directly.

This approach lets you show that you understand why people are upset while maintaining professional distance. You can say, "I'm sorry to hear that we didn't meet your expectations," or "We appreciate your taking the time to let us know."

You can also use the opportunity to ask for more information, such as what specific aspects of your experience weren't satisfactory. For example, you could say, "If I can help in any way, please don't hesitate to reach out."

Step 3: Apologize & Empathize

In today's digital world where we live online, showing empathy and sympathy towards customers is essential. We've already covered how saying sorry helps build trust and loyalty, but there's another reason why you should never hesitate to apologize. Apologizing shows that you care about the customer and are not afraid to admit your mistake.

The best way to do this is to start by acknowledging the problem, expressing regret, and offering an explanation. For example, "I'm sorry our service did not meet your expectations." Or, "We're so sorry that our product did not meet your needs." Then, follow up by explaining your steps to ensure this doesn't happen again.

Don't forget to add a few lines of gratitude to thank the customer for being patient while you work to resolve the issue. You don't want to come across as just trying to cover yourself. Instead, focus on showing appreciation for the positive feedback.

Step 4: Take Responsibility

The last thing a negative reviewer wishes to hear from you when complaining about a poor experience is "I'm sorry." But that's what happens when you respond defensively to a complaint. Studies show most people are more likely to forgive someone who admits wrongdoing rather than someone who insists he didn't do anything wrong. And customers hate being blamed. They want to know why things went awry and understand how you plan to prevent it from happening again.

When you learn what happened, apologize sincerely, admit that you messed up, and promise to make sure it doesn't happen again. Then follow up with concrete actions to fix the problem. For example, if you find a way to improve the product or service, let the customer know about it. This demonstrates that you've learned something important about your business and are eager to help others avoid making the same mistake.

Step 5: Provide An Explanation If Needed

When businesses respond, customers are less likely to write negative reviews. It turns out that people are much more forgiving when you respond to a complaint.

The report found that most consumers don't want to read long replies. They prefer short responses that address the specific problem. When you do offer an answer, you should keep it brief. It would help if you didn't try to convince the person why they got ripped off. Instead, apologize and tell them how you plan to fix the situation.

If you find yourself in a position where you need to explain something, there are several ways to go about it.

Here are three tips to help you handle the situation better:

1. Be honest

Don't lie. Your goal isn't to cover up a mistake. Instead, focus on being transparent. Tell the truth without making excuses. Don't blame others, either. Apologize and say what you did wrong. Explain what you'll change next time.

2. Make sure it's clear

Make sure the customer knows exactly what happened. Use plain language. Avoid jargon. And use numbers whenever possible.

3. Respond Always

The internet is full of people who love to write reviews online. They might write positive reviews about your product, or they could write negative ones. But what happens when someone writes a mean review?

There are times when it makes sense to ignore the review entirely. For example, if you sell expensive products like cars, you probably don't want to respond to every one of those reviews. However, many businesses still choose to ignore the review altogether. Why? Because it's easier.

But ignoring a review isn't the best idea. Even though you might think that no one reads the comments section, that doesn't matter. People read everything online. If you ignore a review, you're telling everyone else that the review is genuine.

So how do you respond to a review without getting into a fight? Here's our advice:

  • Read the entire review. Don't just skim over the parts you disagree with.
  • Answer the question. Is there something wrong with the product? Did you ship late? Was the quality low? These are things that you can answer directly.
  • Be honest. A lot of people try to hide behind "I'm sorry," "We'll fix it," or "That doesn't sound good." But if you're genuinely sorry, say so. Tell the customer why you're apologizing.


Customer communication skills are vital when it comes to selling products and services. In fact, according to research from Salesforce, customer satisfaction is one of the most significant factors influencing whether a consumer will purchase from you again. Communicating effectively with customers is essential to building trust in your brand and increasing sales by developing your reputation. This course will teach you the best ways to connect with potential clients and convert them into paying customers. You'll learn how to identify your ideal client and make yourself stand out from the competition. You'll also discover what makes people tick and why they buy certain things. By the end of this training, you'll know exactly how to talk to customers and close deals.

Best Practice 1: Address the Reviewer

Your customers want to be heard personally. They want to know what they can do to improve their experience and see how you respond to those requests. If you're running a brick-and-mortar store, you might even want to send handwritten notes to individual reviewers. But online, your customers want to read reviews directly from your website. And while it's tempting just to let your best reviews stand out, doing so could hurt your bottom line.

Most people trust online reviews over traditional ones because they feel like they can judge the feedback without bias. 76% of all online reviews are either Google reviews or Facebook reviews; according to our statistics, these reviews are often written by individuals who have already had positive experiences with your brand. By addressing each one personally, you can show your customers that you care about their feedback and value their opinion. You'll also build goodwill among your most loyal fans, who will appreciate the recognition.

Best Practice 2: Say Thank You

In today's world, it seems like everyone is always giving us something - whether we ask for it or not. And while most people don't mind receiving gifts, sometimes those gifts come with strings attached. When someone gives you something, take the opportunity to show your appreciation. But be careful not to overdo it. After all, there's nothing worse than being thanked too much.

  • "I'm sorry to hear you didn't enjoy your meal.
  • "We're sorry you didn't find value in our offer."
  • "Thanks for taking the time to let us know about your experience."
  • "Your feedback is important to us; please keep sharing."
  • "We appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts."

Best Practice 3: Don't Take the Negative Feedback Personally

Your business is probably your life. You've poured blood, sweat, and tears into building it up over the years. So why wouldn't you take a bad review personally?

The truth is, most people don't read reviews. Instead, they skim them to see what others think of your business. If someone gives you a low rating, you'll often assume there must be something wrong with your business.

But here's the thing: just because one person didn't enjoy your products or services doesn't mean everyone else won't. Many times, the opposite is true. People love your business — they just haven't found it yet.

So rather than getting upset or defensive, try to understand where the reviewer is coming from. Maybe they had a bad day. Or perhaps the reviewer isn't qualified to give feedback. Either way, you might find that once you listen to the customer, you can fix whatever issue caused them to write such a scathing review.

Why respond to negative reviews?

We've all been there: you're trying to decide whether to buy something, and you see many reviews saying it doesn't work. What do you do? Do you ignore those reviews? Or do you try to find out what went wrong?

In most cases, ignoring reviews is probably the best option. There are many reasons for this. For one thing, if you don't read them, you won't know how to fix whatever problem the reviewer is having. Second, it lets you focus on creating better products. Third, it keeps you honest—if you did make a mistake, you'd notice it sooner rather than later. Finally, ignoring reviews helps you avoid getting into arguments over the quality of your product.

But what about when you want to address the issue directly? In that case, here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Responding to negative reviews isn't easy.

Negative reviews aren't always constructive. They can come from people who didn't like their experience. Sometimes, they can come from people who aren't happy with the product. Either way, they're usually written without much thought. So unless you're sure the reviewer is correct, you might make matters worse.

2. Don't take everything personally.

The fact that someone wrote a negative review shouldn't change how you treat them. If anything, it should encourage you to do better next time. After all, no one likes to hear criticism. But you don't need to let it affect your relationship either. Remember that the reviewer is likely writing their review because they care enough about your brand to give you feedback.

How NOT to respond to a bad review

When someone leaves a poor review about your business on Google, it's essential to know how to handle it. You want to ensure that you don't look like a jerk. Here are some tips to follow when responding to reviews that aren't positive.

1. Don't blame the reviewer.

This is probably the most common mistake people make. If a person left a negative review, they had a bad experience. So instead of saying, "I'm sorry you didn't enjoy our product," try something along the lines of "We're disappointed that we weren't able to meet your expectations." This way, you show empathy without making excuses for what happened.

2. Don't argue with the reviewer.

If the review is written poorly or full of false information, there isn't much you can do except acknowledge it and move on. But if the feedback contains legitimate complaints, you'll want to address those issues directly. However, doing so could lead to another argument, so avoid getting into a heated debate.

3. Don't ignore the review.

Even though you might think that it's best to let sleeping dogs lie, ignoring a negative review can come across as unprofessional and disrespectful. Google explicitly warns businesses against this practice. Instead, reply with a brief comment acknowledging the complaint and letting the reviewer know that you've taken note. For example, "Thank you for sharing your opinion. We appreciate hearing from customers. Your concerns will help us improve our service moving forward."


Always respond, remain polite and thank customers for their feedback.


November 16, 2022

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