How to Respond to a Negative Review

Negative feedback hurts.

There's no simpler way of saying it. All those hours and sleepless nights you've put into your business, trying to deliver a fantastic service and you're rewarded with an occasional unhappy customer publicly slagging you off. It's not just the fact you've made one person unhappy, though. This review is there for the world to see, and we all know that online reviews play a significant role in the consumer buying process.

After all, research suggests that 84% of consumers trust online reviews, with 91% of those consumers trusting them as much as if it was a friend telling them about it. But a bad review isn't the end of the world.

Believe it or not, reviews less than 100% can make your business more convincing for potential buyers. Having only 5* reviews might appear excellent for you, but it may also appear a bit fishy to other customers if you know what I mean! Users are in-fact are more likely to be attracted to a product that rates between 4.2 and 4.5 stars!

It's virtually impossible to keep everyone happy, with that one customer who expects the world and more! If you can respond correctly though, these bad reviews can help your business in the long run.

Why are Negative Reviews Good?

If customers can see you've acknowledged your mistake or poor service and want to fix the problem, it immediately lessens the blow of that one-star review. Even if the customer never makes contact with you again, at least you've shown the customer, and other potential ones you care and deliver an excellent customer service after the fact.

An example of negative customer feedback on Twitter:


Of course, we hope you don't encounter too much negative feedback in your business life cycle. But for the ones you do come across, here are 7 tips on how you can respond to a negative review!

Apologize Publicly

Even when you know you're right.

Unfortunately, customers feel how they feel, and if you publicly challenge them, it can end badly for you. The last thing you want to be known as is the company that fights with its customers!

It allows you to become approachable and create a bit of personality behind your company, rather than just being a faceless robot. If you struggle to apologize for something that you haven't done wrong then get creative. I'm sorry you didn't have a pleasant experience. I'm sorry that we didn't deliver the standard of service you were expecting.

Deal With The Issue Offline

Don't try to deal with the issue in a series of replies to the review. Instead, encourage the customer to send you an email, or direct message, with their contact details and get in touch via email or telephone (or whatever your preferred methods are). Doing so shows the customer, and potential ones, that you are actively trying to solve to problem.

Of course, it goes without saying that when you do this, you must ensure you contact them when they give you their details.

Amazon Reply

Be Quick To Respond

When responding feedback, you need to do so ASAP to improve the customer experience and salvage what you can.

Hopefully, you are then able to fix the issue for the customer and send them on their way happily. This fast reply shows that you're actively trying to improve your business by staying up-to-date with your customer responses, and a quick response shows the review readers that you value the customer even after the initial transaction.

This is your chance to put out the fire before it becomes an inferno; slow responses will only add fuel to it.

Don't Be Generic

Whether it be a one-star review or a five star one, don't just copy and paste the same answer for everyone.

There's nothing that says 'we don't care about our customers' more than seeing a "Dear Customer, Thank you for your valued feedback, we look forward to your future custom." especially when it's been put on reviews stating how bad they are!

There's something ironic about calling the feedback 'valuable' with a copy and paste reply! Not only does it tell the customers who have left the review that you don't care, but you're also showing it to hundreds of other potential customers.

Customers are the essence of your business, and if they think you don't care, why should they bother to give you their hard-earned cash? Take a few seconds of your time to tailor the response to them. If needed, ask how you can help or give them a contact method to go into more detail. Even adding a Dear (Customer Name) can make the reply feel much more personal, it's the little touches that make a difference.

Hold Your Hands Up

We all have off days or make mistakes, so don't be afraid to admit it! It's much better to show the customers that you have acknowledged that it wasn't good enough, as opposed to turning a blind eye.

If you can accept your mistakes, then you can work to fix them, so it doesn't happen again in the future. Being stubborn will get you nowhere, but it will make your customers leave!

Make It Right

The majority of the time, a complaint can be dealt with by issuing a refund or sending a free replacement. Who doesn't love a freebie? Even if the customer doesn't take you up on the offer, you've shown you want to correct the issue.

Important: If it is something you can't make right for the customer (whether it be time-sensitive or personal), tell them how hard you're going to work to make sure it doesn't happen again. Unfortunately, it might not bring them much comfort, but it could do for others reading your replies.

Don't Get Defensive

Apologize, deal with the issue, keep to the point, don't ramble on about other matters. No matter how badly you want to justify why, the experience was poorer than usual, and go into every little operation of the business, don't.

I get it, you've worked hard to build your business up, and you want to defend it. To a certain extent, as mentioned earlier, it's good to hold your hands up and admit it wasn't good enough.

But what happens if your emotions get the better of you?

You could end up saying something that can upset the customer, even more, appear over defensive, or make it seem you're accusing the customer of dishonesty!

On the Internet, you have to be careful. If people see you get easily upset, they may begin to target you. A classic example of this was from Amy's Bakery (you may have seen them on Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares). They let their emotions get the better of them, and the Internet had a field day.

A horrible sample reply to negative feedback can be seen when Amy's Bakery pressed the self destruct button on Facebook; it's worth the read.

How Can I Avoid Negative Feedback Online?

Sadly, the harsh reality is that you can't, but you can reduce it significantly. The primary reason that people complain is that they feel that nobody is listening to them.

So start listening, ask them for feedback before they go to a review site. Then act on and respond following the above rules.

By encouraging your customer to give you feedback directly (and privately), you give yourself a chance to solve any issues and remove their desire to let the world know about their complaint on a review site. Don't just fix what went wrong, analyze what caused the problem and change your system or training to make sure it doesn't happen again.

The Wrap-Up

If you do get a bad review, it's not the end of the world!

Follow the tips above, and you can turn a negative review into a positive experience, for your own business develop and the customer.

Cxceed enables you to automate the process of asking and receiving feedback and proactively identifying communications that need improving.

Have any thoughts, tips or personal experiences dealing with negative reviews? Let us know in the comments section!

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