How to Handle Negative Online Reviews

how to respond to negative reviews


Negative reviews are inevitable, and they can be a huge blow to your business. For this reason, it’s important that you have a plan of action in place for addressing them effectively.

This blog post outlines the best practices (and examples) for responding to negative feedback. All so you can turn unhappy customers into a happy ones that spend more at your business.

We’ve also provided a few negative review response templates in this article.

The key to a successful response is in addressing the most important points with as much detail as possible. 

1. Acknowledge and thank them.

Start by acknowledging that you’ve heard them and thanking them for their honesty, whether positive or negative. As simple as this may seem, it’s often overlooked by business owners. Here are some negative review response examples to acknowledge unhappy customers:

Example: “Thank you for sharing your thoughts experience with us. We appreciate all feedback, whether positive or negative in nature.”

It’s also important to mention that this is a safe space and there are no repercussions for honest criticism. That kind of assurance can go a long way to easing tension between the customer and employee.

Example: “You’re always welcome here. I want you to know that we take notice when people post on our Facebook page, on Google, or anywhere else because it means they care about what we do — which is why I always reply personally whenever someone reaches out with criticism, praise, questions or anything else.”

This sort of response tends to make them feel safe and welcomed, which may make them realize that they wrote that negative review out of raw emotion and possibly even reconsider what they wrote. 

In some instances, they might even go back and change their review and rating! 

2. Take responsibility and explain your intention to fix the issue - show them why they're valuable to you.

Regardless of whether someone leaves you positive or negative feedback, they matter. If you’re in business, you already know that a single customer can be a massive source of referrals and ongoing business.

One bad review, if handled poorly, can be enough to ruin a business.

By acknowledging and responding effectively when someone leaves negative feedback about your company you are saving yourself from the damage of one unhappy customer. You may also potentially turning that person into an advocate for your company!

One of our favorite sayings is “a complaint shared with two people becomes just a problem; it’s shared with three people and suddenly it becomes everyone’s problem”.

This means that as soon as more than one person knows about how upset a customer was, they’re likely going to tell others too. This often leads to even more complaints from potential customers who’ve heard all the terrible things said before ever visiting you.

Here are some resolution-oriented negative review response templates:

– “We’re sorry to hear that you were unhappy with the product/service. We want our customers to be satisfied and happy so we will make sure that this is fixed for you. Here’s what we’re doing to make sure this doesn’t happen again [list 3-5 action steps you will take or have taken to fix the issue]”

– “It sounds like you are disappointed in how long it took us to ship your order. Please reach out to our support team and I promise we will make it right.”

– “Thank You so much for bringing this issue to my attention, I was not aware about any issues or changes made since last week’s team meeting, I’m going to look into this personally and reach out to you to fix the issue!” 

This person just might turn into an advocate!

If responding publicly

When people see good customer service being handled well – they don’t feel angry any more – they feel happy. They’re not just satisfied with what you did for them, they are so grateful that they want to share the experience and advocate on your behalf! 

There are two reasons why this happens:

  • Because they know it can be frustrating when people post about their unpleasant customer service experiences online instead of coming forward in person. Oftentimes, people are empathetic when they witness such situations.
  • Frustrated customers posting publicly gets a company’s attention and makes other potential customers aware of problems. People appreciate when you acknowledge faults and work to resolve them publicly.

If responding privately

Don’t forget to remind your unhappy client how important their feedback is to you. After all, this is why you have your support line or email set up. 

You’ll also want to assure them that any complaints will be looked into quickly and thoroughly.

3. Apologize if it's warranted (and mean it).

We all make mistakes from time-to-time; don’t be scared to say sorry when you need to! It’s better than glossing over the issue because then customers will remain unsure about what happened. Which can create more frustration on both sides – snowballing their already-bad experience into an even worse one.

Remember – this is a great opportunity to establish and strengthen trust between you and your customers. We also recommend keeping your apologies short and sweet.

Here are some short-and-sweet negative review response examples:

– “I’m sorry our service did not satisfy your expectations.”

– “My apologies for any inconvenience this has caused you; we’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

– “I apologize for any inconvenience cause and want to assure you we’ll do everything we can to make it right.”

– “Once again, I’m sorry for the trouble we’ve put you through. Please know that this was an isolated incident and it won’t happen again..”

4. Make things right.

When dealing with negative feedback, avoid cookie-cutter responses that are not specific to the issues raised in the review. Respond to customers’ concerns, offer a solution and make it clear how they will be kept in the loop.

If there’s nothing you can do to fix what happened, here’s how to make things right with them:

If you can’t help solve the problem, there are three things you can do. Just make sure you avoid mentioning refunds in your public response.

One: give your sincere apologies.

Two: provide a full refund if it applies to your situation.

Three: share with all or most of our other customers what happened so they know not to have this happen again.

As long as you’re sure that you didn’t cause the mistake, make sure they at least feel taken care of on some level even if nothing else is possible. It’s about treating people like humans when dealing with negative feedback. Treating people right will make up for any mistakes or mishaps in customer service.

EXAMPLE: “I’m sorry you had a negative experience, and offer my sincerest apologie for any inconvenience this may have caused. I assure you this wasn’t intentional and I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

This helps you share with other customers what happened so they know not to expect similar levels of service in future. This is a form of transparency as well. You want your company to be seen as trustworthy by being open about mistakes and explaining how you plan on fixing them in the future.

In Conclusion:

  • Provide assurances that you’ll work hard on fixing this issue overall and prevent it from happening again in the future.
  • Apologize publicly and privately provide some sort of compensation in the form of a refund, product replacement or other. The last thing you want is for future customers to leave you a bad review with expectations of some extra compensation.
  • Do not apologize if you have done nothing wrong! Bad reviews are to be expected for most businesses. It’s important that you do not feel obligated to say sorry just because someone is angry. Your time has value too so don’t waste it on people who aren’t worth it 🙂

Don’t let tough negative feedback get under your skin – show them how much their opinions matter by responding appropriately today!

Remember: A little grace goes a long way when dealing with unhappy customers. They will appreciate the effort more than anything else you could offer up as an apology 😉

What you should do now

Whenever you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you grow your business:

  1. Book a Free Demo Session. If you want to generate demand, increase customer loyalty, and become the obvious choice – look no further. Maven HQ is a powerful marketing & sales automation CRM that can help you increase online visibility, collect reviews, generate leads, book more appointments, and tons more. Book your FREE Demo Session to see how Maven HQ can grow your business fast. First, one of our growth experts will understand your current marketing challenges, then we’ll show you how Maven HQ can solve those problems and help you grow fast.

  2. If you’d like to learn the exact demand, loyalty, and reputation strategies we use for free, go to our blog or visit our resources section, where you can download playbooks, templates, and tutorials we use for our most successful clients.

  3. If you know another CMO, entrepreneur, or business owner who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook using the buttons below.

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