How to Respond to Negative Customer Reviews – 25 Tips (and Why You Should)

How to respond to bad customer reviews

Written by Kalleigh O'Togher

Kalleigh is the founder and CEO of Zealous Social and The Growth Fix. Her expertise in sales and marketing comes from 25 years of working with, and coaching, mid-size businesses in the trades, services and retail industries.

November 16, 2021

In today’s digital world it’s impossible to please everyone. That’s just a fact. All business owners will, at one point or another, have to deal with negative customer reviews. No matter how hard you work at pleasing your customers and delivering exceptional customer service a negative customer review can occur. It’s frustrating but you have to respond to it.

Why? Because it’s part of your reputation management.

Studies have shown that if you handle it correctly, negative reviews can give you more business than before instead of resulting in a loss of customers.

Customers who see a business with all good reviews and high star ratings will be suspicious. Customers aren’t stupid. They know that companies mess up or the product doesn’t live up to the customer’s expectations. Therefore, a few bad reviews are expected for every business.

What customers do want to see is how you handle those bad reviews. This will show a lot about your business by your response. If you are professional and appreciate their opinion and reply in a way that shows that, you will gain respect from potential or existing customers. If you ignore it or you handle it very unprofessionally then those negative reviews can have a significant impact on your sales and the reputation of your company.

You should always be acknowledging all feedback, good and bad. Customers want to feel heard and know that you value their opinions.

If you do get several negative reviews in a short amount of time with the same problem this can help you identify quickly where you are going wrong and correct it. Then you can reach out to those customers by acknowledging the problem online then taking it offline to resolve it.

For more tips read our other blog How to Collect and Respond to All Customer Reviews

25 tips to deal with negative customer reviews.

1) Address Concerns Quickly:

When faced with negative customer feedback, the best thing to do is to address them as soon as they come into your inbox or are written online. The sooner you respond to the complaints, the better off you will be. Never let it go longer than 24 hours.

Once you receive the complaint, try to understand the issue behind it. Then, try to resolve the problem at hand so that the customer feels satisfied.

Reply to each comment individually. Do not copy and paste generic responses. Doing this makes it appear that you don’t take their review seriously, and customer service is not a priority for you and your company.

When responding to complaints, ensure that you offer solutions, not excuses. Often, a customer is happy to get a response and know you’ve heard them and are aware of their concern even if the problem is not resolved. A quick response can go a long way towards improving customer satisfaction levels.

2) Don’t Ignore Complaints:

Don’t ignore negative customer reviews even if they seem insignificant. When someone complains against your services or product quality, don’t brush aside their concerns. Instead, note every concern raised by the client and then act upon it accordingly. Try to understand the reason behind the complaint.

If the complaint seems legitimate, follow up with the concerned party and ask them to clarify further details. Then, try to take it offline to address their concerns. Email them or phone them to discuss it directly with them. If this isn’t possible, respond carefully and offer solutions to the problems they have pointed out. If you cannot solve the issue, apologize sincerely and assure the customer that you will look after the matter. 

3) Follow Up With Positive Feedback:

After receiving negative customer feedback, go ahead and contact those who gave their opinions. Send them an email or a survey asking them how the product/service was working for them? Was anything missing from their experience? Did they feel that the customer service was satisfactory? When they respond with answers, make sure that you thank them for sharing their thoughts and opinions. Show them that you value their time and effort invested in giving you feedback. It also shows that you care enough to listen to their suggestions and not just ignore them.

4) Thank Your Clients For Their Time And Effort:

Once again, thanking people for taking the time to write such reviews is essential. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a positive or negative customer review. Showing gratitude towards the customers helps them trust you and believe in your brand. In addition, a simple ”thank you” goes a long way in building relationships between two parties.

5) Respond to all Social Media Comments:

Social media plays a vital role in connecting businesses with potential buyers. Using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, companies use various tools to promote themselves. They post pictures of new launches, special offers and discounts. Posting good images and content makes customers want to visit your website. So, using social media effectively can increase traffic to your site and boost sales.

Make sure you’re responding to all comments on your social media accounts. Even if they are negative. It’s easy to turn people off your brand if they feel you’re not invested in building relationships with them. The point of Social Media is being “Social”. That means communication is a 2-way street that businesses need to invest time into.

6) Keep An Open Mind:

When dealing with negative customer reviews, keep an open mind. Sometimes, customers complain because they didn’t know that something else could have been done differently. Or maybe the reason why they complained lies somewhere else entirely. If you don’t have a conversation with them you won’t know what prompted the review. Remember, no one likes getting bad reviews, but sometimes, we need to hear unpleasant truths to learn lessons that make us better.

7) Offer Solutions:

If there are any issues related to your products or services, find ways to fix these problems. Customers appreciate being offered solutions instead of just listening to their complaints. Not only does offering solutions help improve customer satisfaction levels, but it also increases the chances of repeat business.

8) Be Honest About Mistakes:

Sometimes, mistakes happen during our work. We might not always get everything right on the first attempt. However, we should never lie about our errors. Even though most customers won’t hold grudges over minor mistakes, lying about them will only hurt your reputation.

9) Focus On Quality Over Quantity:

It doesn’t really matter whether you provide 100% perfect service all the time. What matters more than anything is what kind of service you deliver. You must focus on providing excellent customer support rather than trying to please everyone. People expect perfection from us. But, they don’t want to wait forever for it either. So, give them exactly what they want without making unreasonable demands.

10) Understand That Some Things Cannot Be Fixed:

Some situations can’t be fixed. There are times when you fail to meet expectations despite putting forth maximum effort. Such instances call for some form of compensation. While you shouldn’t promise too much, you should provide a refund, discount or credit note to the dissatisfied customer.

11) Learn From Every Experience:

Every mistake teaches us valuable lessons. It gives us insights into how things ought to be handled next time around. The best thing about learning from past experiences is that we become wiser as we go along. This means that every experience becomes easier to manage the next time around.

12) Don’t Ignore Complaints:

If someone complains about your product/service, listen carefully to their concerns. Try to understand where they’re coming from so that you can make improvements. Also, try to resolve the issue at hand before moving on to another complaint. Do this by apologizing. An apology by itself can, many times, go a long way to repairing a relationship. In case you failed to do so, apologize later.

13) Listen Carefully:

You can easily miss out on helpful information while talking to customers. Make sure to ask questions like “What did you think?” “Did I answer your question correctly?” etc. These kinds of questions let the other person speak freely. And even better, they allow him/her to feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts.

14) Never Take Anything Personally:

People often take criticism personally. Don’t. When receiving negative customer feedback, remember that nobody wants to be criticized. Instead, focus on understanding why they made the comments. Once you’ve understood the reasons behind the remark, you’ll be able to respond appropriately.

15) Accept Criticism Constructively:

Criticisms aren’t meant to destroy anyone’s confidence. Instead, they serve as constructive feedback, which enables us to grow as individuals. By accepting criticisms constructively, we develop self-awareness and gain a deeper insight into ourselves and our business.

16) Thank Customers For Their Feedback:

While it’s easy to thank people who gave positive reviews, thanking those who provided negative feedback shows appreciation for their honest opinions. If possible, acknowledge the good points in the review or offer an alternative solution instead of just saying “thank you for your feedback”

17) Give Good Service To All Your Customers:

Always strive to maintain high standards concerning service delivery. Treat each client equally regardless of their status. Whether they spend $1 or $10,000, showing favouritism towards any one individual could lead to feelings of resentment.

18) Keep A Positive Attitude:

A happy attitude helps keep your mood up and prevents negativity from taking root. Stay optimistic because optimism leads to positivity. Look at each negative customer review as a way to improve your customer service and communication skills.

19) Avoid Making Assumptions About People:

We tend to assume certain things about people based on the words they use and how they express themselves. Sometimes, these assumptions turn out to be wrong. Therefore, avoid assuming things unless you know something concretely.

20) Remember That Everyone Has Different Needs:

Everyone has different needs. Whether you run a service business or sell products online, you need to cater to everyone’s specific requirements. Thus, be prepared to adapt to changes to accommodate new trends.

21) Consider Others’ Feelings Before Taking Action:

When dealing with sensitive issues such as complaints or disagreements, consider the feelings of both parties involved. This way, you won’t end up making decisions without thinking them through thoroughly.

22) Don’t Be Afraid Of Negativity:

Negative customer reviews don’t necessarily mean that the customer is unhappy with what he received. Instead, it might simply reflect how well the company handled the situation. So, rather than getting upset over it, learn from the experience.

23) Learn From Mistakes:

Mistakes are inevitable when trying anything new. However, learning from mistakes enables us to improve our skills and become more efficient in future endeavours.

24) Embrace Change:

Change is inevitable. Hence, embrace change whenever it comes along. What worked previously for your customers may no longer be working. The best thing you can do is adapt.

25) Ask Clarifying Questions:

Questions help clarify doubts and confusion about any given situation. Asking clarifying questions lets you build rapport with your customers.

Managing Your Business Reviews

Review Management is not easy but learning best practices will pay off in the long run for your business’s reputation and attracting new customers.

We offer solutions to help you get better reviews, address customer feedback, and automate your processes. Talk to us today.

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  1. Melany Mccaa

    Heya! I love your blog. Thank you!

  2. Nelly Sells

    You have made some really good points here. I checked on the net for additional information about the issue and found most people
    will go along with your views on this website.

  3. Pamela A.

    It is good idea.

  4. Lora Sworo

    Great points for handling our reviews. We need to get better at that.

  5. Gransen Ratner

    Excellent read, I just passed this on to a friend. Thank you!


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