Impact Group Marketing Blog


How and Why You Should Respond to Negative Reviews

In today’s e-commerce world, negative reviews seem to come with the territory. With all the built-in, on-site rating and review features at their fingertips, it’s often easy for customers to leave a negative review.

Do you know what’s worse than a bad review, though? Not responding to it!

Why You Should Respond to a Negative Review

According to a Harvard Business Review study, businesses that responded to customer reviews – good or bad – subsequently saw an increase in their ratings.

A negative review won’t go away and ignoring it will just make things worse. So, when faced with a bad review, keep these things in mind:

  • A reply is your chance to make things right. If a customer complained to you in person, wouldn’t you try to resolve the issue? Even though an online review is less personal, you should still make every effort to make it right and win the customer back.
  • Your reply isn’t just to one specific reviewer. You’re talking to every person who reads the review, including future potential customers.
  • A reply shows other readers and potential customers that you care about them and their business.

7 Things to Consider When Responding to Negative Reviews

Simply responding to the bad review isn’t enough. What you say, how you say it, and even when you post your response also matters.

  1. Respond quickly but evaluate the feedback internally first.

    Instead of immediately replying to a negative review, take some time to assess the situation first. Since customers have a lot of online power, if you react poorly to a bad review without thinking it through, you’ll only make matters worse. Try to respond within 48 hours so the customer doesn’t feel ignored.  

  2. Respond to the review publicly and privately.

    When you reply, use the same platform they posted their review on. You can also reach out to the disgruntled customer privately, but don’t avoid a public response. You want your customers – past, present, and future – to know that you value them.

    Your empathetic online response probably won’t completely resolve a customer’s bad experience, so try to take the conversation offline. Provide the name of a specific company representative, if possible, along with their contact information. This shows that you’re receptive to feedback and that your company takes customer service seriously.

  3. Be transparent, authentic, and polite.

    As your customer base grows, your team will likely make mistakes from time to time. Let’s face it, no business is always perfect. How you respond to these mistakes determines the way customers feel about your brand.

    Your customers will appreciate you being authentic and honest with them, so keep the conversation real. According to research, 85% of Americans are willing to stick with a brand if they know it has a history of being transparent. Customers don’t expect you to be perfect, but they do expect you to take responsibility when mistakes occur.

    Always take the high road when you respond to negative reviews. Keep your reply civil, polite, and focused on the customer’s dissatisfaction.

  4. Apologize, offer solutions, and empathize.

    Saying “I’m sorry” lets the customer know you care about them and value their opinion. Offer to make things right by providing a solution – a free meal, replacement of a damaged item, a discount on their next purchase, etc. Most customers won’t take you up on your offer, but it’s important that potential customers know you’re willing to go the extra mile.

    Showing empathy also helps diffuse the situation. Remember the customer’s experience is their own. You may disagree with the facts of the situation, but you can’t deny how they feel.

  5. Keep your response short and sweet.

    It’s best not to ask follow-up questions or go into detail. You don’t want to inadvertently say something that might further upset the customer and cause them to add more negativity to their review. A good rule of thumb is three to five sentences for your whole response. Also, don’t include your business name or any relevant search keywords. You want to avoid having this review show up in search results!

  6. Sign your name.

    This little detail makes a big impression. By signing your name after each response, you show your customers that you’re a real person. Customers are usually kinder when they know they’re dealing with another human, and it shows them your company values their review.

  7. Ask them to update their original review.

    Customer reviews are just the beginning of a larger conversation. After you send your initial reply, be ready to have an in-depth conversation with the customer. Try to identify exactly where your company fell short of their expectations.

    If the customer seems satisfied with your response, ask them if they would update their review. Now that you’ve changed their perspective, it’s the perfect time to ask them to revise their original feedback. It’s important to update the original review because potential customers may not read the whole thread and see the positive resolution.

Here's an example of how to respond to a negative review:

Thank you for taking the time to give us feedback. We’re usually known for our exceptional customer service, so I am sorry to hear we missed the mark here. My name is [name] and I am the [Owner / Manager]. If you’re open to discussing this further, please contact me at [phone number/email]. We’d appreciate the opportunity to make things right and hopefully earn back your business.

Bottom Line

Remember, you have the power to make a bad situation better. A customer’s negative perception of your brand can change if you show them that you’re willing to make things right.

And while your response is important to the person who left the negative review, it’s even more impactful for the 89% of other customers who will read it over the next few weeks or months. If you keep that in mind as you reply to negative reviews, you’ll make a positive impression on all your customers!

If you would like help creating a review response template for your business or managing your online presence, contact Impact Marketing Group today.