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How to Respond to Negative Reviews

No one likes getting negative reviews. But learning how to respond to negative reviews is good for business.

4 min read

Picture this: You're having a good day, ringing up sales and helping customers. Everything seems to be running smoothly, and you're proud of your business' success. 

Around quitting time, you hop online to check your online reviews. That's when you find something that takes the wind out of your sales. Right in plain sight, a customer left a negative review for anyone to see. 

As disappointing as this situation can feel, every business owner receives negative reviews from time to time. Sometimes, negative reviews contain constructive feedback. Other times, negative reviews merely confirm the reality that you can't please everyone. (Of course, once in a while, negative reviews are fraudulent or mistaken.)

No matter which type of negative review you receive, you'll need to respond to it. Read on to learn how to respond to negative reviews using four tried and true best practices. 

Respond to Negative Reviews Promptly

The first rule for how to respond to negative reviews is that you should move fast. Forcing a customer to wait for a reply creates an opportunity for fresh resentment to grow. If your response time is quick, you can show disgruntled customers that you're listening—and that you care. 

Think of it this way: The more negative the review, the quicker you should write back. At a bare minimum, you should follow the two day rule—never let a negative review languish for more than 48 hours. Still, it's better to respond within 24 hours or sooner. Digital marketing tools can help you with this by alerting you as soon as a negative review pops up. 

Most customer service professionals use response time as a key metric for success. When setting goals for your team, you should aim to strike a balance between speed and quality. Aim for a deliberate pace, providing quality responses with minimal wait times.

If you're struggling with slow response times, you can speed things up by preparing templates in advance. Consider preparing for situations such as:

  • Negative comments about service
  • Broken or damaged products
  • Customers who made a mistake they regret
  • Delayed deliveries

While responses should still be personalized, your team can work quicker when they feel confident and prepared.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews


Respond to Negative Reviews Honestly

If you're ever unsure of how to respond to negative reviews, you can always count on the golden rules. In life and in customer service, honesty is the best policy. 

While negative reviews can be gutting, it's important to take a step back. First, be honest with yourself. Is there anything your business could have done better? 

Think about your products, services and the systems you have in place. Negative reviews can help you spot weak points you didn't notice before. Once you know what's broken, you can fix things and grow stronger.

Next, be honest with your customers. Apologize, own any mistakes and move forward from there. When customers see how committed you are to their happiness, you'll begin to earn their trust back.

If honesty is your north star, you can't go wrong. Honesty will help you avoid excuses, defensiveness and other common pitfalls businesses fall into. 

Respond to Negative Reviews With Solutions

It's easy to get caught up in the moment when fielding a negative review. But as you learn how to respond to negative reviews, remember to ask yourself, "What does the customer hope to get out of my response?"

Sometimes, customers write negative reviews because they feel grouchy and want to complain. But most of the time, they're seeking solutions. By telling you about a problem, customers are giving you a chance to fix it. 

The solutions you offer will depend on your type of business and the situation at hand. But in general, common solutions include:

  • A hassle-free exchange for a damaged or broken product
  • A free consultation to help a customer get better results
  • A discount on a future product or experience
  • A gift card toward a future purchase

Above all, be consistent and fair with all customers. Only offer solutions you know you can afford. If you overpromise, you'll risk starting the disappointment cycle all over again.

Negative Reviews

Respond to Negative Reviews Offline

Even people who are confident they know how to respond to negative reviews can occasionally be stumped. Sometimes, a situation is so nuanced or complicated that a simple online comment won't cut it. In these situations, your communication strategy will need both on- and offline components.

In tricky situations, you can use a public reply to direct the conversation offline. Provide a direct phone number or email address, along with a representative's name. 

A personal, offline conversation can help clear the air and prevent misunderstandings. It's easier to talk through problems and use a friendly tone offline, too. 

Want more insight into managing online reviews? get reviews to learn how simple online reviews can be!

Transform Your Local Business With Powerful Reviews
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