When you know how to respond to negative customer reviews, you connect with review readers in a way that shows your commitment to improving the customer experience.

Getting a bad review is inevitable. Even the best products, sold with the biggest smiles and best customer service, will have a negative review posted online.  Negative reviews can have an impact on your reputation and revenue, so it’s important to know how to respond to negative customer reviews.

Don’t underestimate the power of your online reputation or how online rating influence consumer behavior. Several studies have shown that over 90% of internet using consumers read product reviews. With a heavy influence on purchasing behavior, negative reviews make it harder to attract new customers.

How to Respond to Negative Customer Reviews

How to Respond to Negative Reviews in a Way that Wins Over Prospective Customers

Decide Who is Responsible for Monitoring and Responding to Negative Reviews

If not yourself, who can you trust to monitor and respond to online reviews?  Someone who can provide a prompt and empathetic response online and (if given the opportunity) directly to dissatisfied customers. This person needs to be able to present a sincere apology for the customer’s less-than-stellar experience without being aggressive or combative.

The person responsible for responding to reviews must also know enough about your business to be able to address the complaint and explain what has been done to correct the problem or how customer’s experience could have been better.

To monitor online reviews businesses can use Review and Reputation Management software such as Reputation Loop to intercept unsatisfied customers before they post online and receive notifications when new reviews for their business show up online.

Know the Rules of How to Respond to Negative Customer Reviews for the Review Sites that Matter Most

Depending on your industry, there are going to be review sites that your customers use the most to find businesses like yours.  You’ve already claimed your business page and filled out your profile in its entirety on those sites (and if you haven’t – do it now!).  Be sure to read their guidelines on how you can be notified of reviews and how you can respond to customers as part of those reviews.

Google allows you to respond to reviews from your Google My Business account with just a few clicks.  Your response will be posted publicly as a comment from your business.

google handling bad reviews

Create a Fill-In-The-Blank Response to Customize for Responding to Negative Reviews

You want to create a response with future customers in mind.  Taking ownership of the issue and letting prospects know that your customers are important to you can turn a bad review into a good thing for your business.

Writing a fill-the-blank response now, before you get a negative review, lets you create a professional level response before your emotions are involved.  Plus, it ensures that the most important things you need to say (the apology, how much you care about the customer experience, and how you can make it right) aren’t forgotten.

An apology and appreciation for their time in visiting your business will go a long way in restoring any trust that has been lost.  Remember that a bad review is an opportunity to post a response that will positively influence future customers towards trusting your business.

Respond to Bad Reviews Fast to Lessen the Negative Impact

Removing negative reviews can be extremely difficult, if not impossible.  But you aren’t helpless!  There are two things you can do to lessen the impact of a negative review:

  1. Respond quickly in a way that lets readers know what to expect from your business.
  2. Gather more positive reviews to drown out the one negative review.

New negative reviews will sit at the top of your review page until more reviews are posted.  Knowing the power of customer reviews, you should respond to negative reviews as quickly as possible.  When the next person looks at your business on the review site, make sure they are more influenced by your response than the negative review.

90 percent positive reviews influence

Separate Personal Feelings and Business Activities

Someone bad-mouthing your business online can be a sensitive subject, right?  Some negative reviews can help shine a light on things that need improvement in your organization.

There will also be times when a negative review is just a bored person having a horrible day who chose to spread their negativity online.  Even worse, bad reviews can lower your rating over things beyond your control like the tiny parking spaces in the shopping center parking lot.

It feels personal because you are emotionally and financially invested in your business.  But it’s important that you keep your personal emotions and feelings separate from the business of handling business.

Whether right or wrong, you can’t treat a negative review as a personal attack.  You will not be able to respond appropriately.  You have to set your mind to see the good in bad reviews and tackle this problem like any other business hurdle.

Know How to Respond to Negative Customer Reviews

There are times a negative review will prompt loyal customers to leave a review stating how awesome their experience was in contrast.  But if you see a pattern of dissatisfaction then know there are issues that need to be addressed.

Responses to negative customer reviews should:

  • Be prompt, short, and to the point
  • Customized to specifically address the issue
  • Offer an apology for the negative experience
  • Provide a resolution or improvement when possible

With a Reputation Management and Marketing process, you will know how to respond to negative customer reviews, improve customer service and operations, acquire more customers and increase revenue.  Actively monitoring, managing, and responding to good and bad reviews is a vital part of building and maintaining a positive online reputation.  A positive online reputation ensures new customers pick your business over the competition.


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Zach_Color_Trans_small_CroppedAbout The Author

Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.