Author | Chatmeter TeamDate Posted | June 27, 2024

How to Respond to Negative Customer Reviews (With Examples and Templates)

Left unchecked, negative reviews can be a real pain for any business. They can demoralize hard-working employees and put off potential customers from ever making it through the door. But they don’t have to. If you deal with them appropriately, they can actually be a positive signal to consumers.

Because negative reviews are authentic. If your business only has glowing, 5-star reviews, that makes customers feel suspicious. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Even so, you can’t just ignore negative reviews when they come in. Here’s how to respond to negative reviews and keep that all-important trust in your business.

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Why You Need to Respond to Negative Reviews

Responding to negative reviews shows readers that you’re attentive to your customers’ needs and take their concerns seriously. This helps to build trust in your business: research shows that 55% of consumers feel good about using a business if the owner has responded to reviews.

The same study found that consumers are 41% more likely to use a business that responds to all of its reviews (both positive and negative) compared to a company that doesn’t respond to any. This is because it shows your company is engaged with its customers and wants to take feedback on board.

As well as helping your company look better to potential customers, responding to reviews gives you a chance to… well, respond. If a review is misleading or misrepresents a situation, replying to the review gives you the chance to tell your side of the story and hopefully change reviewers’ minds for the better. And even if you can’t change their mind, it boosts your chances of convincing other consumers to give your company a try.

4 Practical Tips for Responding to Negative Customer Reviews (With Examples)

1. Reply Promptly

When a new review comes in for your business, aim to respond quickly. Research found that 59% of consumers expect to receive replies to their reviews in three days or less, with 11% expecting a same-day response.

This auto parts business does a great job of responding promptly — a customer left a 1-star review three months ago, and the company responded soon after:

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In contrast, this auto dealer is much slower at responding to reviews — a customer left a review five months ago, and the company didn’t respond until a month later:

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Responding promptly shows customers that you take their experience and opinion seriously and that you pay attention to what they’re saying. Even if they’ve had a bad experience, a quick response to a negative review helps the customer feel heard rather than ignored. A reputation management solution like Chatmeter alerts you to new reviews as soon as they come in, so you can reply quickly and easily.

2. Apologize for a Poor Experience

When you respond to a negative review, make sure to apologize for their experience. While it’s tempting to get defensive or deflect — especially if they’re critical of your hard-working staff — this will look worse for your business.

This museum starts its response with a clear apology, which shows the business takes the reviewer seriously:

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In comparison, this diner offers an insincere apology — it implies the customers’ experience wasn’t all that bad:

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Apologizing to your customers — especially if you can get specific about where your company fell short — shows that you’ve read their review and take their complaint seriously. Avoid false apologies that make it sound like it was the customer who was in the wrong.

3. Take Responsibility

When responding to a negative review, try not to make excuses for the customer’s experience. Instead, take responsibility and accept that your company fell short of their expectations (and your usual high standards).

For example, this pizza place acknowledges that the customer’s experience was poor and takes full responsibility for that. It also offers a resolution — giving them their order a second time:

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In contrast, this diner responds to a negative review by putting the blame on the customer, making it their fault for not liking their food. It doesn’t feel like a professional response or like the company values that customer’s experience:

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Try not to deflect or make excuses when responding to reviews. Sure, there’s always going to be someone who loves to complain for the sake of it, but for the most part, a negative review is a learning opportunity for your business. A customer is telling you how your business fell short of their expectations, and if you pay attention, you can improve things going forward.

4. Keep It Short

Finally, when replying to negative reviews, keep it short and sweet. Your aim is to respond as quickly and politely as possible without saying more than is needed. Remember, it’s not about you getting the final word — it’s about making sure your customer feels heard and valued.

This hotel responds to a 1-star review with a short apology that specifically mentions the issue the customer complained about. The response is concise and professional and shows that the company has paid attention to the review rather than providing a standard response to all its customers:

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In contrast, this hotel provides much longer responses to negative reviews. While the response does address all the specific points in the customer’s review, this could have been covered in personal communications with the reviewer rather than leaving all the details online in public:

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If you respond to a negative review with several paragraphs of text, it can look like you’re making excuses. An alternative option can be to reach out to the customer directly via email, where you can discuss the specifics of their complaint. This brings the discussion into a private space, rather than taking place in public online. 

Templates for Responding to Negative Customer Reviews

We’ve covered what you should (and shouldn’t) do when replying to customer reviews, but sometimes it’s hard to find the right words. If you’re still struggling to craft that perfect message, we’ve got you covered — here are some ready-to-go template responses to get you started.

Template for Responding to Angry Customers

When faced with a review from a customer who’s clearly feeling angry about their experience, the last thing you want is to get into a keyboard war. This response is short and sweet to avoid anything that could further anger them. Apologize, and try to move the conversation offline.

Suggested Review Response:

Hello [NAME],

I’m sorry to hear about your disappointment with us, and I would like to personally assist you with making things right.

Let’s get on a call and address this ASAP. We truly value your business. Please contact us at [phone/email] when convenient.

Template for Reviews That Need Further Action

Sometimes you’ll get a very negative review about something that your company can easily solve for the customer without too much work. This response shows that you take their complaint seriously and you want to make things right for them. But it leaves it up to the customer to reach out — if they choose not to, that’s on them. You’ve demonstrated that you’ve tried to solve their issue, which should reflect well on your business.

Suggested Review Response:

Hello [NAME],

We understand your disappointment. It’s important to us that our customers are more than satisfied, and we would like the opportunity to resolve this issue immediately. If you give us a chance, we are intent on making this right and hope you will allow us to speak with you to discuss the situation.

Please reach out to us directly at [phone] at your earliest convenience.

Template for Review About Poor Customer Service

If you get negative reviews about your customer service, it’s tempting to get defensive to try and protect your team. Focus instead on making the customer feel heard and showing that you want to learn from this experience. This template is short and sweet, but shows the customer you’ve taken their feedback seriously and want to improve in the future.

Suggested Review Response:

Hello [NAME],

We’re sorry to hear of your less than satisfactory experience and hope you will accept our sincerest apologies. We are committed to providing great customer service, and we would like to make things right.

Please give us a [call/email] to determine how we can provide you with a solution. We value our customers’ opinions and would like to thank you for bringing this to our attention.

For more response suggestions, check out: 10 Online Customer Review Response Templates You Can Use Right Now

Keep On Top of Your Reviews With Chatmeter

Negative reviews can be tough to handle, but the right tools can make it easier for your team to manage. A reputation management solution like Chatmeter helps business owners stay on top of bad reviews thanks to advanced features like suggested response templates, review translations, and full-service review management support.

Learn more about our reputation management offering, or book a demo with our expert team to see it in action.

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