A negative customer review can cost your business real money. On social media alone, the average person has 155 friends on Facebook. That means if one person leaves a negative review on social media, you may have lost over 150 potential customers. For this reason, it’s extremely important to know how to respond to negative reviews and stay in control of the conversation surrounding your brand online. This post will outline the importance of responding to all reviews, the different types of responses and templates for each type.

The Importance of Response

Not everyone is going to love your brand—it’s a heartbreaking reality, but one that businesses face each day. The good news is, you can minimize the amount of people criticizing your brand by being transparent and keeping open lines of communication. It’s imperative you are constantly listening to what people are saying about your brand, and responding to it in a prompt and respectful fashion.

Firstly, be aware of the different areas people are hanging out and talking about businesses online. Some popular platforms include:

You can also utilize social listening tools to hone into what people are saying across all different platforms.

What to Do When You Find a Bad Review

It happened. Someone wrote a less than favorable opinion on your brand right on the internet for all to see. What’s next?

Most importantly, do not react too quickly, or your response will be overly emotional. You want to come from a place of reason and consideration. Identify the theme of the review. Is this a rant or a critique? You’ll want to craft your response based on that. If it’s a rant, sometimes those are better left with a simple apology versus a critique, where you might spend some time responding.

When crafting responses, remember to write like a real person, not a corporation. It will make the response that much more genuine. If possible, use the technique of owner responses, where the owner of your company replies to each review, instead of the company itself.


Business Owner's Guide to Online Reviews
Download the Business Owner’s Guide to Online Reviews and for tips and tools to request, collect, and manage online reviews.


Response #1: Owning Up

Let’s say someone left a negative review, but it’s true. Maybe your customer service team really did take two months to get back with someone on a support issue. In this case, you always want to firstly thank the user for their review. Then, own up to what happened and apologize, and possibly explain to the user what exactly caused the issue. It can be a tough pill to swallow, but if you’re in the wrong, you’ll be better off admitting to your faults and then taking constructive actions to make things right. Let the reviewers know how you’re going to make sure it never happens again and if possible, offer the user who left the bad review some consolation (a discount, a freebie, etc).

Hi [Name],
Thank you for taking the time to leave a review. We apologize for the fact that you did not receive all of the items you purchased from our online store. It appears that something slipped between the cracks in one of our shipping facilities and we wholeheartedly take responsibility for the situation. We intend to expedite the product and provide a full refund. Please contact our customer helpline at (800) 123-4567 and have your shipping number readily available so we can process the refund.
Looking forward, we are looking into further digitizing our shipping facilities to close the gap for error and improve future customer experiences.

-Owners Nam

Response #2: Defense

In the case that someone writes a bad review on your brand and it isn’t true, do you defend your brand? Absolutely. But when you’re being defensive online, there is a fine line between standing up for your brand and coming off as disrespectful. There are two sides to a story, but most consumers tend to trust reviewers over brands.

If you come out angry and closed-minded, you’re going to turn away more than just that bad reviewer. Everyone will see this. Begin by thanking them for their review and if there’s anything you can do to change/improve based on the review, share that. Then calmly state facts versus fiction. Leave them with another way to contact you if they wish to discuss the matter further. If they continue to respond, do not engage in the dialogue. You responded to the review and fulfilled your end—if they are truly that upset, they will contact your business more directly.

Hi [Name],
Thank you for your thoughts. Based on your experience with our services, we are reevaluating our shipping terms and conditions. However, upon closer inspection with your order, we recognized it only took one additional day to ship your items, instead of the two extra weeks you claimed to wait. It was delayed due to the snowstorm that hit the Midwest earlier this month. We apologize for the inconvenience. If you would like to discuss this matter further, please contact our help line at (800) 123-4567 and ask for Christine.

-Owners Name


Business Owner's Guide to Online Reviews
Download the Business Owner’s Guide to Online Reviews and for tips and tools to request, collect, and manage online reviews.


Response #3: Humor

If a truly bad review comes through and it is completely incorrect or not constructive in anyway, you might try this approach. Beware: the humor approach is extremely touchy. You either know how to communicate in such a way or you don’t. It will elicit one of two responses: laughter or pure disgust. There is no “template” one can follow for a humorous response, so we have included three examples where humor worked in the company’s favor.

“That One Guy on Yelp”

negative review funny response

Old Spice vs Taco Bell

negative review funny response

Tesco Mobile

negative review funny response

To sum it up, acknowledge all negative reviews, respond to them and learn from them. Be sure to thank the user for their review, apologize, offer to change what is written about your brand (if possible) and highlight your strengths. Be proactive when responding to reviews by consistently monitoring the conversation around your brand. Dealing with difficult conversations such as negative reviews is one of the greatest ways to put your online reputation in the best light possible.

Reputation Management: Marketing Executives Guide to Reputation Management

Marketing Executive’s Guide to Reputation Management

Equip yourself with the right tools to monitor and manage your brand’s reputation.

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Posted in: Reputation Management