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How To Respond To Negative Reviews The Right Way

Updated: Jul 5, 2019

Unfortunately, it's just a rule of business (and life) that not everybody is going to be happy. No matter how hard you try; no matter how many different directions you stretch yourself, it's not possible to make every person out there happy.

It's critical that you take that as it is because you can easily drive yourself insane if you believe you can please everyone. With that said, it becomes much more difficult to manage when running a business. People can now go public with their disapproval and voice their dissatisfaction with your service or business.

Yelp, Google, BBB, and other review sites have made it increasingly easy for consumers to make decisions, but have increased the burden on the business owners shoulders to promptly deal with the issue. Regardless of the burden, this is a great way to shape up your business and improve your services using real customer reviews.

Be sure when dealing with negative reviews, you get in the habit of responding to their concerns. This goes for positive reviews as well. Showing appreciation goes a long way and it says something when others notice you reply to your reviews. When responding to reviews, it's incredibly important to do it correctly, because doing it the wrong way can only hurt you and your business further.

5 Ways To Respond To Negative Reviews In The Best Way Possible

#1 Step Back and Cool Down

It's easy to get frustrated and quickly jump to a keyboard to write a response. But honestly, nothing good ever comes of that.

Step back, take a breather, process their complaints, and write a CONSTRUCTIVE response hitting all of their points. It is always important to remember to apologize! Apologizing defuses the situation and brings down the tone to a more conversational tone.

This way you can ask questions and get a better understanding of the circumstance.

Here's a real-life example of why you NEED to step back and take a breath, before responding to negative reviews.

#2 It's Not Personal

Don't take reviews personally! Remember, reviews are a critique of your service, not of you as a person. It is best to separate yourself from the reviews and take it only in the context of your business.

This is a great way to relax a bit when it comes to reading and responding to reviews. Going back to point one, the last thing you need is to write a hot-headed response to an already negative review. You may end up furthering their point by doing so.

When you plan on reading reviews, don't go in with the intent to answer the question "How can I improve?" Go in looking to answer the question "How can my business improve?"

#3 Don't Wait Too Long To Respond

When a negative review is written and left unattended, it ends up looking like you don't care. Whether this is true or not, that's never good for your reputation.

Depending on the size of the review and how many come in per day. I'd imagine you can be easily overwhelmed with the negative comments.

One important thing to try is breaking down the review into parts. Take each section one-by-one and answer it thoroughly. This both shows the unhappy customer you care about their comments and it helps you to clearly think about each point made.

In an ideal scenario, try and get back to the review in 24 - 48 hours. If you don't get back to them in that time frame, it's not the end of the world, but at the absolute very latest, you must respond within 7 days.

Their eyes are on you to see how you handle the situation, so make sure you handle it correctly and in a timely fashion.

#4 Take The Situation Offline

If the situation turns out to be a little larger than you expected, try and take it to another place. The longer the conversation goes within the review site, the more cluttered the review becomes.

Taking it to another place (Phone call, Facebook Messenger, etc.) offers some more privacy for discussing the situation in detail. You'll be able to dig deeper into what happened and how to fix it next time.

#5 Be Genuine In Your Response

Having a canned response for every negative review won't help the situation. As a matter of fact, it may hurt the situation further, because it may show you don't care about their comment enough to construct a true response.

Nobody wants a copy-and-paste answer that everyone gets, make it personal.

Think of this as an opportunity to show everyone what your business is truly made of. Take your time and write a well thought out and personal response.

On a separate note, this is also true for positive reviews. Write a message showing you are appreciative of their review and make sure it sounds like you!

To make the response sound more real and authentic, add personal details to it such as, what about it do you appreciate? Did you enjoy working with them? Along with other things like that.

Final Points When Responding To Reviews

In my opinion, the number one most important point here is to step back and take a second to process the review. DO NOT immediately write a response if you feel any form of frustration.

Step back and evaluate their comments, then create a constructive response. No one is benefited when you write a hot-headed comment. You may feel better for a second, but it will hurt much worse later.

After you've stepped back, just remember to break it down and write something authentic. Don't just use the same response for every review, write what comes to you (be smart about that), that way the customer feels special from everyone else.

When you've dealt with a negative review, don't just leave it at that. If there was truly something you could've done better, make it up to them. This is a great way to rebuild trust and show you care about what they say.