Not every customer is going to have an excellent experience with your business. Hopefully, it doesn’t spiral out of control and result in a negative online review, but in some cases, people will take to the internet to extinguish their frustration. Negative reviews can be turned positive if you leverage them to build rapport for your brand by responding in an intelligent, clever and appropriate way. We handpicked some of our favorite responses to negative online reviews and packaged them into this blog post.

Successfully Retracting Negative Reviews

negative review response

In this instance, Joe H., the reviewer, left a negative review about a used car they purchased. The bottom response is the original response from the owner, and the top is Joe H’s response to the owners reply. The key here is that the owner put the customer first, admitted their wrongs and fixed the issue at hand.

“We have a high standard of quality for certifying our vehicles and your purchase should never have been an exception.”

The owner reinforces the mission of the brand, while validating the customer’s concerns. The response is positive, and even retracts previous negative feelings toward the brand. Joe says,

“The dealership redeemed itself and I would delete the previous post if I knew how.”

Users reading this thread will probably gain respect for the business. Anyone working in the customer service industry understands how rare it is for a customer to take back a previously negative statement. In this instance, the brand was able to turn a negative review into a positive review. The owner fixed the situation and both parties got the ending they wanted.

Bad Reviews? 
Change them. Download the Ultimate Guide to Managing Negative Reviews » 

The Short & Sweet Response

short and sweet response

Often times, when reading company’s responses to online reviews, they will offer lengthy commentaries. While these might be necessary, succinct, to-the-point responses tend to be more effective. In this instance, a customer was complaining about the atmosphere of the restaurant. They complimented the food, but their overall experience was less than satisfactory.

“Excellent cinnamon ice cream. But never again.”

This review isn’t completely negative. The owner came back and started off by acknowledging their compliment. Beginning a response on a positive note is a good way to keep things upbeat and light. Next, the owner frames his response in a way that validates the customer’s concern and encourages them to return and give them another chance.

“We are a Tavern, but we do have an upstairs available for dining that is a little better on the ear. I hope you’ll give us another chance so you can get the kind of excellent experience we’re known for.”

There is no record of a response from the customer, but the important aspect to focus on is what all users can take from this. That person may feel compelled to return, and request to dine upstairs. Other people reading this review might consider these comments for when they visit the tavern.

Make your reviews work for you

Read the Business Owner’s Guide to Online Reviews


The Conversational Response

jet blue review response

Customers are quick to make remarks about brands through social media. These posts usually get reactions from their friends and followers, and people will often blow these posts out of proportion, causing them to go viral. For this reason, it’s essential that your company has social media management practices set in place so there is always a plan for response. In this instance, a customer posted a picture of a non working TV on a JetBlue flight. It received minimal engagement, with only three likes, but JetBlue did the right thing and responded.

The way JetBlue responds was conversational, so the customer felt as though their concern was being heard and validated by a real human.

“We always hate it when that happens.”

This kind of feels like complaining to a friend, right? The difference here is, JetBlue lets the customer openly vent and fixes the problem. This is a great online reputation management tactic as other users will be far more impressed by this response than the generic apology.


The Risky Response

risky negative review response

A brand can stand up for itself by refuting comments from the customer – but this can be risky. For that reason, pick and choose your battles. In this case, a customer left a lengthy review claiming this restaurant was “arrogant and unfriendly” because they do not offer takeout food and would not make an exception.

The owner began with an apology, although it is clearly laced with sarcasm. The owner remains professional however, pointing out specifics of their Yelp listing, reminding the customer that they do not, and have not ever offered takeout food.

The owner wraps up the response by reminding the reviewer:

“Our general manager did question the age/maturity of your husband after he became combative and threatened us with a negative Yelp review if we did not alter our operational practice and provide him with ‘take-out food’.”

In this case, the owner does a nice job of standing up for his business, while remaining professional. Other Yelp users who come across this may raise their eyebrows, but overall most people will side with the restaurant on this one.


There are numerous different ways you can respond to negative online reviews. Whether you choose a basic, scripted approach or take a risk and use humor in your response, make sure the messaging aligns with your brand values. Utilize this blog post to gather inspiration and help shape your responses and online reputation management strategy.

Reputation Management: Ultimate Guide to Managing Negative Reviews

The Business Owner's Guide to Online Reviews

Learn how to collect online reviews and leverage them to fuel business growth

Check Out the Guide ›

Realtor’s Guide to Automating Testimonial Collection

Build a testimonial workflow and automatically collect awesome praise with our step-by-step process.

Get the Realtor’s Guide to Automating Testimonial Collection

Download the Guide

Posted in: Reputation Management