Tips for Responding to Negative Reviews

12/20/2018 4 min read Written by Roman Kniahynyckyj

Thanks to social media and on-site rating features, leaving reviews is easier than ever for consumers. Most businesses are familiar with positive reviews - and negative ones.

Many customers use reading reviews of a business and its services as part of the critical decision-making process. According to Testimonial Engine, 72% of customers don’t take any action until they’ve read reviews, which is why you should address all reviews, particularly negative ones. Bazaarvoice surveyed over 1,600 people and discovered 41% of consumers say a brand that replies to reviews (bad or good) makes them believe the company really cares.

So, you should absolutely respond to negative reviews. A negative review that’s left ignored can look worse for your company than the negative feedback itself. Not replying encourages customer churn by 15%, according to Chatmeter. So, while that poor review may make you want to run for the hills, it’s best to address the situation. Responding to it can actually empower your company.

Here are our tips on how to best handle negative reviews.

Be Proactive

Get ahead of your reviews by routinely looking for them. Monitor the platforms where your reviews lie, whether it’s on Yelp, Facebook, Google, Twitter, or a feature (like a forum) you’ve installed directly to your site. If it helps, assign a person or team to handle this at your company.

Respond Within 24 to 48 Hours

If someone took the time to post a public review, it’s obviously important to them. Responding quickly shows you’re actively engaged in conversations with your consumers across multiple platforms. The longer you wait, the more that person feels invalidated. Sometimes, this can lead to further negative reviews or bad word of mouth.

Also see: How to Deliver Great Customer Experiences with HubSpot’s Service Hub

Acknowledge and Apologize Authentically

Even if you don’t agree with what they’ve said, something compelled them to reach out. Offer an apology after you’ve recognized the concern, but don’t sound robotic. Make it visible you’re a real human.

Be Polite

Harsh reviews deserve politeness. Don’t fuel the fire by a rude response. A negative response on your part will reflect poorly on your company.

Make It Right

Words matter, but actions can show you’re willing to take the extra step to ensure your consumer is happy. After all, this is a chance to right your wrong and showcase your customer service. If that person was unhappy with your food service, offer them a coupon on their next visit. If they were unimpressed with someone within your company’s assistance, tell them you’ll speak with them to ensure it won’t happen again.

Insert Some Marketing In Your Response

When appropriate, market your business. You can include a line similar to, “We’re recognized as meticulously detailed, but even we make rare mistakes” or “We always strive to have the best and swiftest interactions with our customers, but we missed the mark this time.”

Also see: 6 Tips for Providing Customer Support through HubSpot Conversations

Think of Future Customers

Think about future customers reading the review when responding. If the reviewer experienced a long wait time, assure them your business will work to make sure that doesn’t happen again. If the product wasn’t as advertised, let them know how you’ll address the issues.

Take It Offline

Once you’ve responded online, make an effort to contact that person more traditionally. Pick up the phone and call them. Email them or send them a card in the mail. Whatever you do offline will show dedication to improving the lousy experience they had. This type of interaction could change their review or make them return to your business.

Also see: The Importance of Engagement in Customer Success

Don’t Use Keywords in Your Response

While typically you want to mention your business name and related keywords in all online material, you probably don’t want a scathing review popping up first on a Google search.

BONUS: Examples of Businesses Handling Bad Reviews

Camelback Moving

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In this response, the owner of a small moving company directly responded to a negative review by apologizing and promising to work with the crew to make sure bad experiences do not occur in the future. He also cleverly intertwined some marketing in his response, saying they always “strive for 100% customer satisfaction.” This response increases the chance of repeat business.

Southwest Airlines


As a national airline, Southwest Airlines faces numerous reviews on various platforms daily. They respond to as many as possible on Twitter, which is a good practice. In this example, Southwest acknowledges the customer’s frustration while moving the conversation to a one-on-one atmosphere, so they can gain further insight. This interaction also shows Southwest responds within hours on social media to reviews.


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Adobe offers a customer forum which they monitor actively. In this example, the staff member at Adobe acknowledges the person’s concerns, asks for detailed information to rectify the situation quicker, and promises to loop in more help. Throughout the conversations, she responds within 10-15 minutes. Responding to negative reviews is hard, but you must do it to keep your business moving forward. Ignored customers are unlikely to return to your business or continue using your product. They may even spread negative word of mouth.

Also see: How to Write a Customer Feedback Survey Email

If you need help creating a proactive approach to responding to negative feedback, contact LyntonWeb today.

By: Roman Kniahynyckyj

Roman has been helping clients develop and implement revenue enhancing inbound marketing strategies since 2009. Prior to becoming an inbound marketer, Roman was a management consultant with Ernst & Young, Booz Allen Hamilton, BearingPoint, and KPMG. Roman's relentless focus on client satisfaction and client results has garnered accolades from many clients and teams.

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