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The go-to guide to responding to negative reviews

A negative review can feel disheartening and we totally get it. Here's how to respond.

A negative review can feel disheartening and we totally get it. As a business owner, you put your heart and soul into providing a product/service that your customers will love, and if it doesn’t hit the mark and they’re left feeling disappointed, upset or angry, well we understand if you end up feeling those emotions too. Responding to the review in a sincere and helpful way is always the right step towards fixing the issue and hopefully, mending the issue between you and the customer.

If handled correctly, the customer will feel valued and noticed and in most cases, the relationship can be salvaged.

Negative reviews

Here are a few tips to think about when responding to a negative review:

  • Begin by apologising and thanking the customer for sharing their thoughts.
  • Acknowledge the results of their negative experience – it is important to make the reviewer feel heard and understood.
  • Offer an explanation for what has happened (i.e. Unfortunately we were understaffed due to the majority of our employees contracting Covid-19. We apologise for not having a contingency plan in order to get the job completed in time for the deadline).
  • Explain what you will do to fix the issue and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
  • Include follow up steps, and if needed, provide them with your email address so the reviewer can follow up with you if there needs to be further discussion.
  • IMPORTANTLY: Thank them and finish your response by apologising again before signing off.
An example response:

Hi {first name},

Thanks for taking the time to let us know about your experience. I’m so sorry about {the main criticism in review}.

{Add commentary acknowledging how the negative impacted the reviewer, as expressed in her or his review}. I want you to know that I will be passing your comments on to {person/team/department that can attempt the situation}. We want to make sure you are heard so we can continue to improve our services. Please reach out if there is anything we can do to make this better. Thank you for reaching out and we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience this has caused.

Kind regards,

{your name}
{your email address}

False and inaccurate reviews

These are definitely the most unfortunate reviews you can receive, however, they do occasionally happen. Every so often you may be faced with a review that is inaccurate, ill-informed or used to invalidate your business. We understand these reviews are incredibly frustrating, but take a deep breath and remember that existing and potential customers will be reading them and importantly, your response.

So, do not freak out and write something you regret, instead keep your comments professional, articulate and important.

Here are a few tips to respond:

  • If there is any truth in the review, you must apologise where you went wrong and explain how you will be addressing the issue.
  • If the review is for the wrong company, politely explain that this may not be the correct page for the reviewer and ask them to please remove it.
  • If you are unsure if they are being honest, ask for a proof point (“When did this happen?” or “May I ask who you spoke to?”) this assists in verifying that the reviewer is an actual customer.
  • If it is evidently fake, comment professionally explaining that the review is false and has been reported to site moderators.
An example response:

Hello {first name},

We appreciate you writing the review. Would you mind following up with me at {your email} to let me know exactly what entailed? I checked with everyone on our team and no one recalls the incident. I want to get to the bottom of this to make sure we make things right.

Thanks,

{Your Name}

Mixed reviews

Sometimes it’s not black and white. When it’s a mixed bag of both praise and criticism it is imperative you express gratitude for both.

Here are a few tips to respond:

  • Greet and thank the reviewer.
  • Acknowledge the positives in the review and why it made the customer satisfied with your service/product.
  • Apologise for any issues and explain how you will implement their feedback to improve.
  • If the review is mainly negative it is best to make up for it in a private conversation by providing your contact information.
  • Thank them for their time and sign off with your name.
An example response:

Hi {first name},

Thanks for writing to let us know your thoughts. It looks like we fell short on {area of criticism}. I want you to know that I’ve spoken to {person/department/team in question} about this, and we’re going to {action taken} to make sure the issue is solved. Also, I’m really glad to hear that you {liked/enjoyed/appreciated} {aspect highlighted positively in the review}. {Explain why you also appreciate the positive}.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, and if you have any more comments, feel free to start a conversation with me at {your email}.

Best,

{your name}

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