Receiving negative reviews from customers can be difficult. You may feel inclined to get annoyed, defensive and even angry. This is natural as you have invested so much time and energy into your business so a negative review can feel like an attack on you personally. Not to mention negative reviews can cause negative effects such as a decreased overall rating online and a decrease in sales.

However, if handled correctly, bad reviews do not have to necessarily have negative consequences. As a matter of fact, it can add authenticity to your brand. Most customers will find a company that has all positive reviews to be suspicious or fake.

Paying attention to the content of a negative review is important to correct the issue and implement change within your company if need be. What is even more important, though, is how you choose to respond to that review. You should never ignore a negative review left by a customer. An unattended bad review can drive other potential customers away.

Here are the steps to follow when responding to negative feedback:

Address the customer

Personalize your response with the reviewer’s name whenever possible. Your customers want to be heard personally and individually so be sure to stay away from generic terms such as Dear Customer. Using your reviewer’s name will let everyone know that you are not just copying and pasting a script, but that you actually care about the customer and their problem.

Unless you are collecting your feedback via anonymous surveys, it should be fairly easy to find the name of someone who left a negative review. The reviewer will be much more cooperative if they receive a response that starts with a personal and friendly greeting.

Thank the customer

Always thank a reviewer for taking the time out to leave feedback, even if it is not the best. This establishes psychological trust within the reviewer and anyone reading the review online. Though it may not be the easiest thing to do, thanking a customer that leaves negative feedback will show your customers that you value unsolicited and honest reviews.

Examples of ways to thank a customer for negative feedback include:

  • Thank you for your review. I’m sorry to hear you had such a frustrating experience. I really appreciate you bringing this issue to my attention.

  • Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We are sorry you did not have a good experience. We’ll strive to do better.

  • Thank you for letting us know about this. Your feedback helps us get better. We are looking into this issue and hope to resolve it promptly.

Acknowledge the issue

Even if you do not agree with the reviewer’s perspective, it is important to acknowledge the issue at hand. Your customer will want you to address the reason they are writing the review and show that you understand. This acknowledgement places both you and the customer on the same side attacking the problem instead of staying in a situation where it is you and your brand versus the customer.

Ways to acknowledge a negative review include:

  • Rephrase the problem in your own words.

  • Empathize and comment on the consequences of the problem.

  • Rephrase portions of the problem, then ask for clarification.

  • Emphasize the severity of the problem.

Extend an apology

Apologizing for a less than satisfactory experience with your company is very crucial step in showing customers that you are not too proud to own up to your mistakes. Even if you feel that you have done nothing wrong, saying sorry will establish trust between you and your customer. Your apology does not need to be long and drawn-out. In fact, it is more effective if it is kept short and sweet.

Examples of ways to say sorry include:

  • We apologize that our service did not satisfy your expectations.

  • We are so sorry that your experience did not match your expectations. This is on us.

  • We set a high standard for ourselves, and we are so sorry to hear this was not met in your experience with our business.

Offer a solution

Whenever possible, try to make things right. This may include compensating them for their dissatisfaction or communicating any changes or improvements you have made as a result of their feedback. If you believe there is nothing you can do to fix the issue, take ownership of the problem and promise to deliver a better experience in the future.

Take matters offline

It is always a good idea to continue the conversation on a non-public platform to ensure the customer is able to get the help they need. You can do this by providing a personal phone number or support email where they can talk to a representative directly. This is great because it prevents further embarrassment online and interference from outside sources.

Here are some examples of ways to initiate a private conversation:

  • We would like the opportunity to further investigate your feedback. Would you please contact me at [Email Address] or call our team at [Phone Number]? We’ll work with you to resolve any issues as quickly as possible.

  • We are sorry that your experience at [Company Name] did not match your expectations. We would love to know why, so that we can deliver a better experience next time. You may reach us anytime at [Email Address] or [Phone Number]. Again, thank you for your feedback!

It may be hard to see the good in negative reviews but think of them as opportunities. It is rare that someone will leave a negative review simply to troll your company. Most of the time, customers that leave negative reviews simply want their problem solved and want you to understand why they were dissatisfied. Be sure to establish a set plan within your company for responding to negative reviews. This plan should include a specified timeframe by which you should respond, a designated person who will be in charge of writing responses and a general policy that covers things like language and tone.

Customer reviews are essential to finding new leads and closing more deals. A businesses that is highly recommended can also charge more for services because customers trust the company to do the work well and efficiently. Learn more about integrating customer reviews into your marketing plan.

At we know how to grow your reputation and make you shine online. Our reputation management services collects feedback from customers, pushes it to your social profiles and helps you make a plan to improve your services. We want to see your business succeed and we know that customer satisfaction is a key part of that equation.