6 Must Knows Before Responding to Negative Online Reviews

When you get a negative review, it can be beyond tempting to immediately respond with something bitter back. No one likes hearing negative comments about their company, especially if they’re not accurate or written out of hate. Even so, no matter what, you must understand these six things before responding.

1. Wait

Just like mentioned above, when you see a negative review for your company, there is an urge to immediately respond and tell the customer that they are absolutely wrong. However, you must avoid doing this. Instead, take a few minutes or a few hours to think over the review before responding.

Giving yourself time to reflect and calm down before responding will help you avoid the initial instinct to respond emotionally to the reviewer. An angry response gives your company a bad image. No matter what the review says, you want to respond professionally. 

2. Respond

Even though you need to take time before responding to a negative review, you still have to respond in a timely manner. It is vital that you respond publicly to all negative reviews. If a customer complains about your business, not replying to the review shows potential customers that are reading your reviews that you don’t care.

Not taking the time to address and hopefully solve the customer’s complaint will only reflect poorly on your business.

When it comes time to respond, here are some tips:

  • Make the reviewer feel heard: Even if you disagree with what is being said, make sure you acknowledge their issues with your product/service/staff. Let them know that you understand the problem and relate to their frustrations.
  • Don’t just respond – try to fix the problem: Depending on what the complaint is, there is usually something that can be done to solve the issue. This could be as easy as an apology, a gift card, a refund, or even just a phone call.
  • Get an unbiased opinion: Let someone else read your response before you hit send. Tone is very important and when you are emotional you may not be aware of how your tone is really coming across. Your company is your baby. Understandably, you’re protective of it.

“Responding in a timely manner is important. If the customer felt dissatisfied enough to post a review of your business, you should take it as a priority to seriously respond to their negative feedback. Aim to respond within 24-48 hours from the time they post the review.” – Signpost 

3. Move it Offline

When something is said online, it can never truly be deleted. Remember this when you are writing responses and interacting with customers. Do not get into a war with your customer online. If after responding, you find that the unhappy customer is still fuming, try your best to move the conversation out of the public space. Be open with them about this. Give the reviewer a private way to contact you, such as a phone number, email, or direct message. Even if they never reach out to you privately, giving them the option tells future customers that you are willing to go the extra mile for customer service.

Also, the internet is an easy place to be rude due to its anonymity. Removing the safety of a computer screen can remind your reviewer that there are real people behind your brand. This will often drastically shift how they speak to you and your company. 

4. Be Realistic

No matter how great of a response you write, don’t expect a major change of heart from your reviewer. Despite your best efforts, many reviewers will not alter their reviews or rating. You just have to hope that it’s only one negative review amid many positive ones.

A negative review isn’t the end of the world.  You can never please everyone, but the way you deal with negative reviews is one of the most important factors. Sometimes, your response says more about your company than the review does.

5. Learn

Sometimes negative reviews can offer major insights into how you can improve your business. Pay attention to what the review is about. Is it about a specific staff member? Is it a product issue? Is it a technical problem? Is it a recurring complaint?

Treat reviews as a learning experience and an easy way to get insights into your company. You genuinely want to listen to your customers, especially if the issue has been mentioned before. Not all negative reviews are just angry hate. Some have constructive criticism you could actually benefit from!

“Not everyone is going to share their problems in reviews. A lot of people will simply stay quiet and stop supporting your business. Be grateful for those negative reviews. They give you something to learn from when silence does not.” – Like A Voss

6. More Reviews

When you have negative reviews, rather than focusing on them, prioritize getting more positive reviews. Many businesses focus their attention on finding ways to get reviews deleted or altered. This can be very very difficult and usually impossible (depending on the platform and the circumstances). However, if this effort was instead focused on getting more positive reviews from customers, your business will be much better off.

Make it easy for your happy customers to leave reviews. It is possible to offer a small incentive for reviews, but typically this is not necessary, especially if your business is as great as you want those reviews to claim it is! Having positive reviews will offset the negative reviews and make them less visible to the public by pushing them down on your list of reviews.

It’s nearly impossible for your reviews to be perfect. No matter how great your business is, if it’s successful, it’s going to get a negative review here and there, so it’s vital you know what to do with them! Wait, respond, learn!

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This blog post was originally published in July 2018 and has been edited to improve accuracy and readability.


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