5 Tips for Responding to Negative Reviews

by CoVaBizMag

Back in the day, negative reviews came in the form of a letter or phone call from a displeased customer. This eventually morphed into an email, which has now transformed into an online review—a display of disapproval, made public for the entire online universe to read. But just as prominent as the review itself is how you—the business owner—respond to the review. (And yes, you should respond.) So, how do you turn a consumer’s frown upside down? Well, the answer is you may not be able to in all cases. However, these five local professionals explain how to give it your best shot.


“If you get a negative review it is not the end of the world. But, you must understand what provoked the bad review. Address the issue with your customer and learn why they are disappointed. Once you have a grasp of what happened, try to fix it if you can. Not everything can be fixed, and not every customer is going to love you. But if you get a negative review, or heck, even if you get a positive review, thank the person for their review and find out exactly why they feel the way they do, both positive and negative, and learn from it.”
—Zack Miller, founder of Hatch


“As a consumer, I’ve purchased many products and/or services with a bad review or two. I understand owners and consumers both have off days. I always look to see how the owner responds. Negative reviews provide an opportunity for customers to be heard. Validate that. Address the concern. Don’t escalate the issue. Take the conversation offline and follow up with an online resolution. Replying to reviews shows a potential customer you are not only concerned about your reputation but also about providing a true, positive customer experience. A negative review can have positive rewards when managed well.”
—Reesy Floyd-Thompson, owner, The Digital Wonder Woman


“My response to a negative review is written mostly for potential clients reading the comments, not just the unhappy reviewer. I always thank the person for their feedback, express empathy and show that I’m committed to finding a solution. Then, I invite the unhappy client to connect offline so I can figure out where there may be a gap between what they expected and what I delivered. This helps me repair that relationship and make sure I’m communicating expectations appropriately moving forward.”
—Megan Hogan, owner, The Annex- Collaborative Studio


“Before responding to a negative review, take a deep breath and think very carefully about what you are going to write. Or even better, don’t think too much. The review can feel like a punch in the gut or even a personal attack. Keep in mind that responding gives you a chance to help the situation and change the customer’s perspective for the better. Be very careful: if your reviewer perceives that you are being rude, condescending or disingenuous in any way, there’s a chance he or she could get angry and make the situation even worse. Keep your message simple: thank you for the business and the feedback. If you can be specific about the customer’s experience and any changes you may have made as a result, this could go very far in earning trust.”
—Xerxes Nabong, Yelp Hampton Roads Community Director


“Online reviews are very important, especially for local businesses and for building your online presence. People want to be heard, so the worst thing you could do as a business owner is ignore the review. Acknowledge them even if they are wrong. Think about how you would respond if they were there in person, stay calm and don’t overreact. Most importantly, see if you can take the discussion offline and resolve the issue if possible. You can’t make everyone happy. But by acknowledging them, listening to the customer, you may be able to resolve the issue and turn that negative review into a positive one. Responding to the negative reviews will show other potential and current customers how you problem solve and that as a business you value them trying out your service or product and taking time to offer feedback. It’s good customer service!”
Naoma Doriguzzi, Blogger/Social Media Consultant, @AskNaoma

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