How to respond to a negative review

How to Respond to a Negative Review

5 easy steps for responding to a negative review

See how

Let’s be honest (especially in regards to learning how to respond to a negative review). Nobody likes to get a negative review. But what if I told you that getting a negative review – as long as it doesn’t happen very often – can actually be a good thing? When online searchers only see five-star reviews, they will often think that it’s too good to be true. Businesses with a small number of negative reviews sprinkled in with their good reviews seem more authentic. Now, I’m not saying you should seek out bad reviews, but you should know that when you get one it’s not the end of the world.

The key with negative reviews is the response. If you do it right, you can turn an unhappy customer into a happy one with a few clicks on your keyboard and a thoughtful solution. Because we’ve helped thousands of businesses build and manage their online presence (including online reviews), we know a few things about how to respond to a negative review. We outline the process below:

How to Respond to a Negative Review Step 1: Stay Calm!

The worst thing you can do is respond to a negative review when you’re mad. That’s why we strongly recommend assigning someone to respond who has a little distance from the situation, like a supervisor or customer service manager. The last thing you want to do when responding to a negative review is sound defensive, even if you think the customer is in the wrong. Making excuses or trying to justify the situation will only make things worse. Consider it customer feedback even though you may have a different opinion when you first see it.

How to Respond to a Negative Review Step 2: Apologize

It’s amazing how far the simple words, “I’m sorry” will go toward repairing a relationship with an unhappy customer that left you a negative review. Consumers understand that no business is perfect and sometimes mistakes happen. The problem comes when businesses aren’t willing to acknowledge those mistakes.

It’s amazing how often customers are willing to update and amend bad reviews when the business apologizes publicly. Swallowing your pride can be tough for a lot of us, but doing so will help you build stronger customer relationships and ultimately help you attract new customers through the quality and thoughtfulness contained in your online presence.

How to Respond to a Negative Review Step 3: Offer a Solution

It’s one thing to apologize, but if you haven’t put some thought into how you’re going to solve the customer’s problem, then those words will ring hollow. Put some time and thought into what you can do to make the situation better in the eyes of the customer.

If the product they purchased is defective, offer to replace it. If they felt that the service wasn’t up to par, provide them with a discount on future service. Sometimes, all it takes is offering them a gift card to a local restaurant or coffee shop as a goodwill gesture to smooth things over.

How to Respond to a Negative Review Step 4: Take the Conversation Offline

Having a conversation by responding back and forth on online reviews isn’t the most efficient way to solve customer complaints. That’s why after you’ve apologized and offered a solution, we suggest you take the conversation offline. Solving problems is much easier to do via chat, text, or on the phone.

How to Respond to a Negative Review Step 5: Follow Up

Once you’ve reached out to the customer in an effort to solve their problem, it’s always a good idea to follow up after a few days to make sure everything is fine. Sometimes there are some loose ends that need tying up. This is also a good time to ask them if they would be willing to amend their negative review based on what your business did to rectify the situation.

When customers do this, it’s a transparent example of how much your business cares about its customers and the emphasis it places on its experience. And because today’s consumer relies so much on online reviews to make decision, it will show them that you are willing to go above and beyond to serve your customers.

How to Respond to a Negative Review Bonus Step: You Can’t Please Everyone

Even if you follow all of the steps outlined above, you still won’t be able to make everyone happy. In those situations, you need to move on. You don’t have to bend over backwards if the customer is being unreasonable. Future customers will understand, especially if most of your reviews are positive.


Watch a full demo to see how Podium can help your business respond to negative reviews.