How to Respond to Negative Reviews About Your Business

Connie Benton Connie Benton · 4 min read

Customer feedback is a great way to learn. If you’re getting the same negative review over and over, there’s something wrong with your business.

Research shows customer reviews are crucial for your online presence. People read 10 reviews on average before deciding to buy. Millennials trust reviews almost like their friends’ opinions.

If you fail to respond to negative reviews quickly, a customer may skip your company and go to the next one.

It’s not just customer service, it’s PR

Technically, solving customers’ problems is customer service. However, when the issue is taken to your Facebook page, it becomes a PR task.

People who are willing to buy from you will read the reviews first. What if they find out a legitimate bad review that didn’t get a proper response? Your brand takes damage.

Treat every review you receive and respond to as a marketing endeavor. Here are X tips and tricks to handle it perfectly.

Address the reviewer by name

The path to a successful review response is paved with small things. Addressing people by name is an old tactic, but it still works.

It’s always good to hear your name. Reading it in a review response is not as engaging as coming to your favorite coffee shop and discovering the waitress remembers you, but it’s something.

What’s more important online is you come off as a human. No one likes responses written by bots.

Address the reviewers by name, and they will at least know you took the time to write yourself.

Franchette/Google negative review

Say thank you

If the review shows a flaw in your business you weren’t able to see yourself, it’s great that it got posted. Even if it doesn’t, the person took time to write it instead of telling everyone on Twitter how bad your company is. Isn’t this worthy of an appraisal?

Thank the reviewer for reaching out. This will surprise them and direct the conversation positively. It’s also a great way of building customer loyalty.

Apologize and sympathize

For most people, writing a negative review is not a rational action. They don’t do it because they’re good samaritans and want others to avoid a horrible business.

It’s just a way to let off the frustration they experienced with a product or a company.

However, conflict is not the only way they can get their feelings understood. Sympathize with the reviewer and say you understand how it must have felt.

While you apologize and relate to them, don’t forget about your interests. Here’s how the owner of a furniture store reacts to a negative review complaining about stiff cushions.

Ethan Allen/Google negative review

This answer accomplishes three things:

  • Soothes the reviewer’s feelings
  • Explain the product to them
  • Shows people who read the review it’s not rational

If your response hits all three of these, it’s a good one.

Some reviews are not irrational, but preferential. Some people just don’t like your product. Here’s how to handle a review like this.

Raymour & Flanigan/Google negative review

Writing consistently sympathetic reviews that work for both the customer and the people who read the reviews takes effort. It takes more than sharing a template in your HR software. You have to engage the customer support team and make sure they care about what customers have to say.

Publicly offer to solve the issue

Whenever a bad review pops up, you have to deal with the problem. Most reviews should be taken to customer service and handled there.

However, you can’t just contact the reviewer and leave it at that. Make sure to answer to all reviews and offer a solution. At least mention that you have contacted them. This will show the people who read the review, you’re doing your job well.

You can offer solutions to people who can’t be handled by customer service as well. Here’s how another furniture company handles a bad review.

Montauk Sofa/Google negative review

Solve the issue privately

Once you’ve mentioned you are contacting this person, the public side of the job is done. Let your employees sort out the matters and leave the customer satisfied.

Here’s an example of how to save face and help a customer out. Brief and to-the-point reply.

Ethan Allen/Google negative review

Ask to change the review

Is the reviewer satisfied after you’ve helped them? It’s time to ask to change the mark.

It only takes a couple of clicks, and it’s fair to expect this. Ask the customers directly when you’ve done solving their problem, and send a couple of follow-ups in case they forget.

Don’t be too pushy, though, this can scare people off.

Improve your business

Customer feedback is a great way to learn. If you’re getting the same negative review over and over, there’s something wrong with your business.

Your product may be malfunctioning, or the members of your customer service team need some training. Either way, there’s an opportunity to get better at whatever you do.

Thank the customers for their help and mention you’re working on it. Take the issue to your team and solve it.

Once it’s done, contact the reviewers and offer them a discount if they come to check you out again.

Report a review

Not all negative reviews are informative. Some are just mean. They may be written by a troll, or by a person that genuinely dislikes your business.

These two are probably not worth your time.

Source: Le Bernardin/Google negative review


They’re both full of hate, but the last one may be contradicting Google’s contributed content policy. While Google’s team may not find it that offensive, all reviews that contain offensive or obscene language are fair game. The same goes for fake reviews.

Don’t focus on the negative reviews

You probably should flag and take down reviews with offensive language or dangerous imagery. As for the rest of the negative reviews that cannot be resolved, don’t bother.

If you can’t solve the issue by directing a reviewer to the customer support team or improving your business overall, the odds are it’s just their opinion.Le Bernardin/Google negative review

This woman had a fairly good experience in the restaurant she reviews but didn’t think it was good for the money. There isn’t much you can do about it, and people deserve to know her opinion.

You can respond with an “it’s a shame you didn’t find us good enough,” or not bother responding at all. Focus on having more good reviews, and reviews like these will matter less.

The bottom line

Sometimes, you’re hit by a negative review, and it feels like a crisis. Don’t worry, most reviews can be managed. Take up these tips, train your team, and your review section will become an object of pride.

How did you like this blog?


Connie Benton Connie Benton

Connie Benton is a passionate freelance writer and owner

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