How to Respond to Negative Reviews: Best Practices and Examples

Last updated: 3/21/2020

Why Responding to Negative Reviews Is Important

In today’s internet-dominated market, the robustness of your online presence affects both your reputation and your search engine standing.

Negative online reviews without appropriate and timely responses can quickly damage your reputation.

A large majority of consumers today rely on review sites to help them determine which businesses are reliable and best suited to their needs.

Your responses to your negative reviews are a big opportunity to show potential clients and customers your professionalism, the care with which you do business, your quickness and willingness to remedy a situation, and the level of responsibility you take when something is amiss.

In this post, we’ll show you why they aren’t always bad and the best way to respond to negative reviews, with a template and plenty of examples.

Negative Reviews Aren’t Always Bad

Understand Points of Friction

Constructive negative reviews can help you understand points of friction in your business that you might not have otherwise known about.

They can also help you see patterns in your customer or client experience that can be improved, or be an early warning system for recent changes you’ve made that aren’t working as intended.

Ignoring your negative reviews or writing them off as a one-time issue could mean you are missing an opportunity to fix an underlying problem in your business that could cost you down the line.

Take the Opportunity to Build Trust

Negative reviews present the opportunity to build trust through timely and appropriate responses.

In fact, the absence of any negative reviews can be viewed as suspicious.

Having a small proportion of negative reviews shows you are human.

When buried among a slew of positive reviews, negative reviews won’t be as harmful.

Responding to these negative reviews appropriately can serve to show your potential client or customer that you are concerned about their experience and that you will work to correct anything that might go wrong.

In fact, when surveyed,* 67% of people said that they would rather buy from a company “that seems to have made a small mistake and responded quickly” over a company that has “never made a mistake.”

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Because it is imperative you mitigate unfavorable reviews in a productive manner, we’ve compiled a few examples that you can use to bolster your company’s public image and rectify potentially damaging reviews.

Timing Is Everything

A bad review can act like a wound for your business. If left alone, it can cause increased damage as time goes by, leaving lingering unfavorable thoughts in the minds of potential customers.

Upon first noticing a negative review of your business, it is important to respond quickly, ideally within 24 hours.

Time is of the essence and every minute that the review goes unchecked is another minute a potential customer or client may be swayed to take their business elsewhere.

Responding to negative feedback is the most direct and effective way to minimize damage from a bad review.  We recommend responding the same day if possible, however, if you are too upset, waiting until the following day is acceptable.

Take a Step Back

While your instinct may be to write a scathing response to a negative reviewer in defense, effective responses to negative reviews require that you take a step back.

Breathe and remain calm.

If your response is constructed from a place of anger it could serve to cause more damage to your business. Get to the core of the issue and take your emotions out of it.

Remember, similar to that review, your response will be seen in the public eye. You are conducting customer service in front of the world.

If you respond in an unprofessional manner, it could harm your business’ reputation.

If you respond well, you can build trust and bolster your reputation.

Write it, Then Put it Down and Come Back Later

Your response needs to be calm and validating. Carefully read the points made in the negative review. Address each in a constructive, factual, and polite manner.

Remember at all costs to avoid alienating or insulting the reviewer. Your response is the voice of your business and it is up to you to take the high ground and present your business in a positive and professional light.

We find a great strategy is to write out the response, sleep on it, and then reevaluate it the next day.

If you’re one of our clients, reach out! We’ll help you come up with the perfect response.

Offer a Resolution

While it’s important for you to have empathy for their situation and let them know you’ll do better next time, it’s not enough.

Ask them to call you or come in to see you so that you can offer them a resolution, whether it be a discount, providing the service again at no cost, or whatever applies to your situation.

For example, if you’re a salon owner and the review’s haircut came out unintentionally uneven, offer to have them come in at a convenient time to have it fixed at no charge. And be sure to let them know that you’ll also be taking care of the tip for the stylist who will be fixing it.

Be careful about publicly stating your offer because this can attract anyone looking for a deal or discount, whether they had a bad experience or not.

Negative Review Response Template

While you certainly don’t want each negative review response to sound the same, you may use this general outline of a response to help craft yours, making sure you hit all the key points in a professional manner.

Use this as a starting point, and then make it sound like your own.

Fill in the blanks to personalize your negative review response:

Thank you, (name of reviewer), for your feedback. We are very sorry that your recent experience (at or with your company name) was not a pleasant one. We strive to (your mission) and when we fall short of this we try to do everything we can to resolve the issue. (The customer’s complaint) is unacceptable and we have taken (what steps) to resolve your issue and ensure that an incident like this does not repeat itself. Again, we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and hope you will give us another chance to make things right. Please come in or call us and ask for me, (your name), personally.

Examples of How to Respond to Negative Reviews

How you reply to negative reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and TripAdvisor will be the same across the different platforms. What differentiates your response is your industry.

Examples of Negative Review Responses for B2C, or Business to Consumer

B2C Negative Review Example #1

“I recently went to John’s Auto Shop for an oil change and I was very disappointed with the service I received. Originally, the oil change was supposed to take only 45 minutes but it took an hour and 45 minutes! When I tried to find out why it was taking so long, the responses I received were rude and disrespectful. I definitely would NOT recommend this place.” – Lauren

BC2 Negative Review Response Example #1

Hello, Lauren. First of all, we appreciate your feedback. I’m very sorry that your recent experience at John’s Auto Shop was not a pleasant one. We strive to deliver the best service possible to every one of our customers and when we fall short of that goal we try to do everything we can to resolve the issue. The time it took for your oil change to be completed is unacceptable and although I do not know which team member(s) you interacted with, I have spoken with my staff to ensure that an incident like this does not repeat itself. Again, all of us at John’s Auto Shop sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and hope you will give us another chance to make things right. Next time, please ask for me – I am the manager – so that I can ensure your experience with us is fast and smooth.” – John

B2C Negative Review Example #2

“XYZ restaurant has all the promises of being great. I came in craving a delicious burger. While the service was friendly, my burger arrived under-cooked. I sent it back to the kitchen and when it was returned, it came back well-done. I had ordered medium and each time I received my food, it was inedible. I doubt I will return.” – Samantha

BC2 Negative Review Response Example #2

“We really appreciate your feedback, Samantha. We are always looking for ways to improve guest experience. I have personally addressed the issue with the entire kitchen staff. It is unacceptable that your food did not come out as you ordered. My name is Adam and I would like to personally make amends. You can call my direct line at 555-555-5555. I look forward to speaking.” – Adam

Examples of Negative Review Responses for B2B, or Business to Business

B2B Negative Review Example #1

“I recently ordered from ABC Company for the first time. Their turn-around time was less than ideal and I was never given a reason why. I am disappointed in my experience with them.” – Brian

B2B Negative Review Response Example #1

“Thank your feedback, Brian. While it is true that we get backed up on orders sometimes, there is no excuse for our lack of communication, especially when your business is depending on us. My name is Susan and I am the manager. I have your order in front of me and will call you to follow up about your experience to see how we can make it right.” – Susan

B2B Negative Review Example #2

“I had been using Hometown Media for a few months and everything was going well until my last project was returned without any of the specifications I had requested. I emailed the company twice to find out what went wrong. This was a week ago, and I still haven’t heard back. Very disappointed.” – Jennifer

B2B Negative Review Response Example #2

 “Jessica – we are extremely apologetic for this very unfavorable situation. We understand that your business is of the utmost importance and that you have placed your trust in us to help you get your message across. In order to help us understand where things went wrong and to offer solutions, I would like to speak with you on the phone. I left you a voicemail at the number we had on file for you. Please call us at 555-555-5555 and ask for me personally. I look forward to speaking.” – George, Owner, Hometown Media

These responses are appropriate examples of how you should respond to a negative review. The points of the negative review are addressed clearly and respectfully, while also stating what actions have been taken to remedy the unfavorable situation.

Also included is a way for the customer to get in touch with the manager. This gives you the chance to offer an incentive to have the customer try your business again. Be careful not to offer any discounts or specials publicly, as they could be taken advantage of by other readers.

Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Online Reputation

Another way to limit the effects of a negative review is to ask satisfied customers to leave reviews of their experiences.

Ensuring a steady flow of positive remarks from happy customers draws attention away from any negative reviews and makes any effect on your overall star rating negligible.

The best offense is a good defense, and being proactive by asking satisfied customers to leave a review provides a layer of cushion for when the inevitable bad review comes along. Be sure and respond to your positive reviewers as well!

Be Proactive

Your review ratings are the online face of your business. Many customers go online to check your ratings long before they come to or call your business, and first impressions are key.

Being proactive with your online reputation by getting reviews, monitoring them, and responding quickly will help you to grow and foster a successful business.

Need Help with Your Online Reviews?

We understand that keeping up on your reviews can take up a lot of time, so we offer review management services to help you quickly and efficiently maintain a positive online presence.

Our review service will help you both grow your reviews, and monitor them so that you can respond quickly.

Find out how we make getting positive reviews easy.

*Survey conducted by TrustPilot

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