How to Respond to Negative Reviews the Right Way


    Did you know that 93 percent of people say online reviews impact their buying decisions? Clearly, customer reviews are important to have.

    Positive reviews can sway people to buy your product, but what about negative reviews? Many business owners dread getting a bad review. Will it convince people not to buy your products or book an appointment with you?

    You don’t need to worry. If you know how to respond to negative reviews the right way, you can turn a “bad” review into a great opportunity.

    Want to know how to make that happen? This guide will walk you through the steps you need to take when a bad review crops up on your radar.

    Why You Need to Respond to Negative Reviews

    Business owners often wonder if they should ignore negative reviews. After all, people have a right to think what they want about your business. They’re also allowed to express their opinions.

    There are also plenty of examples of business owners responding the wrong way. They might berate the reviewer or beg them to change the review. Some even get a little insulting.

    All that does is paint the business in a negative light. People are even less inclined to work with you if they see you respond to a negative review this way.

    So, it’s easier to take a live-and-let-live approach, right?

    Letting a bad review stand isn’t a good strategy to deal with them, though. In fact, it’s much better for you if you respond.

    Why? People want to see how you handle the situation. If you ignore the negative review, you’re not delivering very good service to an upset customer.

    That can harm your reputation as much as typing an all-caps response to the reviewer. So, not responding to reviews is not an option.

    That said, you need to approach negative reviews the right way. As noted, flying off the handle, calling the reviewer names, or insisting that they take down their bad review isn’t a good look.

    How to Respond to Negative Reviews the Right Way

    The first step in responding to negative customer reviews is to see it as an opportunity. Yes, it can be upsetting to see someone say bad things about your business.

    You should be upset because they’re unhappy, though. This is a customer who didn’t have a great experience. They’re letting the world know, and they’re giving you a chance to make it right for them.

    How would you handle an angry customer who came into the store to complain about one of your associates? What about someone who called you to express dissatisfaction with the quality of work your team members did at their job site?

    You’re probably going to try to “make it right” for them. That’s what you need to do when negative reviews crop up too.

    Responding to the Customer Sympathetically

    As you write your response, think about the language you’re using. Are you implying it’s the customer’s fault that they got poor service? Are you accusing them of lying?

    Set aside your ego and any hurt feelings for a moment. The customer who had a bad experience is already upset, so using careful language here is key.

    Express sympathy for them. You can apologize to them for poor service or a bad experience. You might want to write something like “We’re very sorry to hear your experience wasn’t what you expected.”

    You’ll want to be careful to take responsibility, but don’t admit guilt or liability. You can offer an explanation for the situation, if it seems appropriate. Don’t give the customer excuses, though.

    Outline a Plan of Action

    If the customer has raised valid concerns, you want to be sure you address them. Let the customer know that you’ve heard their complaint and you’re taking it seriously.

    Suppose you own a restaurant. If a customer complains that the waitstaff was rude and inattentive, then you may state that you’re “looking into the matter.” You could suggest that this is worrying, and you’ll be reviewing staff training.

    If an order was packed wrong, then you could state you’ll review packing protocols with your team members.

    A plan of action tells the customer you’ve taken their concerns seriously and you’ll work to make things better.

    Make an Offer

    Once you’ve apologized and expressed how you plan to address the customer’s concerns, it’s time to make it right for them. What can you do to make sure this customer ends up happy?

    If someone had a bad experience at your restaurant, you might want to offer them a discount for next time. Invite them back to see what a difference the right training will make.

    If a customer received a broken item, you can offer to replace it, free of charge. You may want to sweeten the deal by offering them a coupon as well.

    Discuss Serious Incidents in Private

    Some reviewers are dishonest. Before you discipline your staff or offer the customer a free meal, you may want to check in on the details.

    When you respond to the customer’s review, ask if it would be all right for you to message them privately. You can also ask them to email you about the incident or give you a call.

    This can give you a chance to verify the details of their interaction with your business. You can ask them for an order number or information about who their server was and when they visited your shop.

    Private discussion serves two purposes. First, it lets you confirm details. That can help you spot people who may be dishonest about their experience.

    Next, it also allows you to address issues with the staff members who are causing them. Going over order packing training for everyone may be a good idea. Some employees may need one-on-one training, though.

    Discussing the issues privately with the customer also lets you keep details about what you offer them to “make it right” private. You may not want everyone to know you hand out free meal coupons to people who happen to complain online.

    How to Ask for a Private Conversation

    If you want to take things private, you’ll still need to respond to the reviewer. You should still follow the best practices for apologizing and expressing sympathy.

    Once you’ve done that, state you’re concerned about the incident and would like to discuss it more. Ask if you can reach out privately or have the customer contact you.

    You might want to try one of the following phrases:

    • We’re concerned about what you’ve described here. Would it be all right if we contacted you privately so we can determine what happened?
    • We’re sorry to hear you were disappointed by your experience with us. We want to make it right for you. Could you get in touch with us at this address?

    These messages make it clear you want to follow up so you can address the situation in the right way.

    Ask the Customer to Change the Review

    Once you’ve settled things with the customer, it’s time for the close. Negative reviews hurt your online reputation, your SEO, and your marketing. You want to make that negative review go away.

    You could ask the platform where it’s posted to delete the review. You should reserve this course of action for fraudulent reviews.

    If the review is legitimate, ask the customer if they’ll consider revising or giving you a better rating.

    If you’ve done a good job and made it right for the customer, chances are they will. They may remove the review entirely, or they may revise it to give you a better rating.

    What If a Negative Review Stays Up?

    Suppose you’ve reached out to the customer and apologized. You’ve explained the situation and given them a great offer to make it right.

    They still won’t remove the negative review or revise their rating.

    This can be a worrisome situation for business owners. After all, those negative reviews are hurting your reputation and your marketing efforts.

    Your best bet in this situation is to drum up more positive reviews for the business.

    You should also take heart that you’ve showcased the amazing customer service your business offers. People may read that negative review, but they can also see how well you responded to it. They might still be convinced that you’re a great business to work with, even if that one person had a bad experience one time.

    Boost Your Business with Great Advice

    Getting a bad review can be upsetting for a business owner. When you know how to respond to negative reviews the right way, though, you can turn “bad news” into a opportunity. With the right response, you can make things right for this customer.

    You can also convince others that your business listens to their customers.

    Looking for more great tips about handling your reputation online? You’re in the right place! We have all the latest advice on reputation management, digital marketing, and so much more.