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Negative Reviews and How to Respond

negative reviews

Businesses often try to do their best for their customers, oftentimes going above and beyond if any mishaps take place.  However, not every person can not be pleased, and some take to the internet to review or will rate your business negatively.  Mistakes are inevitable in business, but thats not always understood by all customers.  There maybe times when a customer’s bad experience wasn’t your fault, but occurred because of events beyond your control. Regardless of the circumstances that resulted in the bad review was received, it can tarnish your online reputation, which is why it is extremely important to do some damage control.  Here is how to respond to negative reviews.

One small tip is always to respond to reviews.  A study, conducted by Harvard’s Business Review revealed that customers are less likely to respond when they see management respond to previous reviews.  This will make customers more hesitant to leave trivial or unsubstantiated negative reviews. Although critical reviews can make any business owner upset and defensive,  one must to be careful not to respond poorly, because potential customer will be checking reviews before requesting any services.  With that in mind, we have provided ways to respond to negative reviews in the following paragraph. 

negative reviews

First, an apology is needed—even if you don’t think it’s deserved. Being sympathetic helps to show that you care; and it is also the fastest way to defuse any situation. Of the reviewed complains about bad service, you can apologize for their bad experience.  Not only does it show the customer that you respect their feelings, but it shows that you’re a responsible business owner since you’re willing to take accountability for the bad experience . It’s also important to understand that customers can be talked out of their negative feelings with a genuine apology and an attempt to rectify the situation. Using a simple phrase such as, “We are sorry to hear about your experience” or asking what you can do to rectify the situation can make a huge difference.  

Secondly, make sure you use details when speaking about the incident with the customer. It is good to focus on the primary concern of the customer’s review.  When you respond with a touch of specificity, it shows that you care. Doing so lets them know that you have read the review carefully enough to tailor your response to their complaint. This is a good opportunity to bring light to the customers review with the company policy or what customers typically experience with your business.  This is a way to address the issues while providing a backhanded compliment. You can respond with, “We are usually known for out exceptional customer service and we regret that we didn’t live up to those expectations here.”  Always avoid trying to prove the reviewed wrong by using their words against them.

negative reviews

Thirdly, move the situation offline. It’s difficult to resolve most issues online, so handling a disgruntles customers will be no different.  Unfortunately, in some cases, an empathetic reply will not be a complete solution.  If possible, try to talk to the customer personally by providing contact information.  This demonstrates you are receptive to feedback and it can shift the power dynamic to a personal 1-on-1 encounter, also showing that your company takes customer service seriously enough to have someone address their specific problem.  “If you are open to discuss further, please give us a call at (xxx-xxx-xxxx) and ask to speak with Brian, our General Manager.  We would appreciate the opportunity to make things right.”

Fourth, make the response brief. There’s an old saying that goes “less is more” and it still reigns true. Responding in 4 to 5 sentences is a good rule of thumb.  No matter what, resists the urge to defend every point to prove you weren’t wrong.  Long winded responses legitimize the complaint, so avoid at all cost.  Long responses can sound defensive. In addition, make sure to not to ask any follow-up questions online.  The goal is to avoid any further back and forth on a public platform, which can lead to the reviewer becoming more detailed and negative.  Understand that responding is more about remaining in a positive light to new customer.

negative reviews

Lastly, compensate the customer, if possible.  This will help the customer to feel like they matter, and aren’t being brushed off.  This lets the customer know that you understand that they feel like time or money have been wasted.  You should try to take the extra step to make sure they will want to use your services again.  This could be the difference between an one time customer and a lifetime customer.  You can offer a discount or give their priority scheduling for their service.


“We apologize that our service did not satisfy your expectations.”“We’re so sorry that your experience did not match your expectations. This is on us.”“We set a high standard for ourselves, and we’re so sorry to hear this was not met in your interaction with our business.”

In conclusion, Online reviews have the ability to affect how people view your business. You must remember that your reputation is more than just what you say: it involves other peoples opinions (word of mouth), and what people are saying online. Although this may make you feel like you can not control the situation, apologizing goes a long way, and can still improve your reputation in the face of adversity.  Responding to negative and low rate only (no text) can make a positive impact on your brand reputation. Apply these best practices and you can avoid the loss of regulars, or potential customers.

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