Negative reviews happen - there, we said it! But they're really not the end of the World, promise. In fact, often the most important thing is not the negative review itself, but the way in which a company deals with that review. Today, we're going to show you how to handle negative reviews the professional way. Get it right, and you might even be able to turn that positive into a negative!
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Recently received a negative review and feel like the walls are caving in? We feel you.

According to an online survey, an overwhelming 94% of consumers indicated that negative reviews deterred them from engaging with a business. Moreover, half of the respondents expressed that negative feedback caused them to doubt a business's quality.

That's why managing bad reviews significantly influences the perception and success of businesses.

Still, mistakes are a part of life. In fact, they're a part of being human! We all slip up from time to time, and people can be more understanding of negative reviews than you think - especially if you handle them correctly. There are actually a surprising number of benefits to handling criticism online, too. They can do numerous things, including improving your brand trust, customer service, and even customer satisfaction in the future, so try not to see them as the enemy.

Stop the stress and try to remember:

  1. Negative reviews do not define you!
  2. What's written in the reviews isn't what matters - your response is what does.

What to do when receiving bad reviews

1. Don't take it personally.

It's a negative review, about your business - the one you've worked your fingers to the bone building up - and it somehow feels like a personal insult.

Stop. Breathe.

You should never take a bad review personally, even when it seems personal! Consider that the customer might have been having a bad day when they wrote it, or perhaps, that they could even be right. Taking negative comments to heart often leads to anger which is likely to lead to a response from you that you may later regret.  This leads us on to...

2. Take a minute

Whilst it may seem easy for us to say 'it's just a negative review', we really do get it.

biscuiteers review

Whether you’re new to this game or a well-seasoned veteran, negative reviews can have a surprisingly powerful effect on your state of mind.

That's why it's so important to always, always take a moment to breathe before mitigating negative comments. We've all been there in the past when someone has said something out of turn to us, and we've had to bite our tongue or calm down before we respond. Well, negative reviews should be treated in exactly the same way.

Whatever's been said in the review, don't respond impulsively. Take a minute, breathe, and come back a little later with a clear head.

3. Put yourself in your customer's shoes

Although there are some exceptions, unfavourable feedback is rarely left without good reason, and some are actually meant in good jest. 44% of women and 32% of men say when they leave a critical review, it's to help the company improve a product/service/policy - they're really not the enemy!  When handling feedback, it's essential to see the problem from your customer's point of view so you can respond and resolve it appropriately.

Don't just see their anger or frustration—read into the language used and try to identify where things went wrong.

This process will help you really understand the problem and be more empathetic so that when it comes to handling criticism online, you'll be able to do so in the most professional and personable way possible.

4. Do some research

Once you've fully identified the customer's problem, it's time to research. If it was an issue with customer service, you may want to pull up any relevant correspondence. If it was a customer journey issue, try replicating it to identify the exact bump in the road. If it was a delivery issue, contact your courier for an explanation.

Everything you gather will not only help you respond to negative feedback in a really comprehensive way but also provide the unhappy customer with a solution - turning that negative into a positive.

5. Reply to Negative Reviews

When it comes to actually dealing with your negative reviews, one of the first questions you may be asking yourself is, "Should I even bother to reply?" The answer to that is a resounding 'yes'. Replying to customer reviews is very important indeed - 61% of people say that just getting a response to their complaint is reward enough. After all, customers like to know they're valued, and one way of reassuring them is to make every one of their problems your problem.

bloom and wild reviews

That being said, don't entertain the fakes or respond for responding's sake. Concentrate on the unfavourable ones.

You can jump to exactly how to reply to negative reviews here.

6. Publicise a Review & Response

Publicising bad reviews is scary, granted, but it is essential if you want to be completely transparent with your customers. Reviews - both of the positive and negative kind - can build enormous amounts of trust, but only if you allow them to.

If you've already contacted the customer privately and the problem has been resolved, you can now go ahead and publish a streamlined response. Include the main points raised, apologise, be personal, thank them for their feedback, and apologise again.

The goal here is to showcase that you've acknowledged and understood the customer's problem and done all you can to resolve it.

7. Ask The Reviewer To Modify Their Review

Depending on how the exchange went with the customer in question, you may be able to encourage them to modify their negative review and turn it - quite literally - into a positive.

This is not something we'd recommend doing religiously - it should definitely be on a case-by-case basis and always carried out in private.

If the conversation went well and the customer was pleased with your response and solution, they may be more than happy to update their review or, if nothing else, edit it to include the customer service they received in resolving their issue.

8. Document, Feedback & amp Improve strongly believes that one of the main benefits of reviews is how much they can help businesses to improve. Feedback is essential to continuous improvements and bringing the best you can possibly offer to your customers.

The last step in successfully dealing with bad customer feedback is to take what you've learned, document it, relay it to the necessary teams, and ensure change is implemented where necessary.

Recording each and every one of your negative reviews will help you recognise patterns and identify key areas for improvement. There's no point in putting in all that work to resolve negative reviews and not learning from them. Take something from every review and make sure mistakes aren't repeated.

Feeding back reviews to the higher powers is essential, as this will facilitate change. Web developers may have no idea about a user experience problem that causes negative reviews unless you tell them. The key here is communication.

When the problem has been relayed, your last job is to ensure change - where necessary - is implemented to prevent reoccurring issues.

9. Encourage your customers to leave reviews

It's pretty widely accepted that most happy customers won't tell anyone about their experience without being prompted, while unhappy customers are likely to actively tell their friends and perhaps everyone else online, too.

This is why it's important to implement and maintain a Customer Review Strategy for your business that involves active collection. The vast majority of your customers will write a positive review for you if prompted to do so.

It's also important to try and maintain a consistent reputation across multiple review platforms, whether a Google-licensed third-party platform such as or a social media platform like Facebook.

To Sum Up

Dealing with unfavourable feedback effectively can significantly impact your business. Below is the checklist template for you whenever you need to tackle adverse reviews

1. Firstly, it's crucial not to take negative reviews personally, even if they seem harsh.

2. Secondly, always take a moment to breathe before responding to negative feedback to avoid impulsive reactions you might regret.

3. Putting yourself in the customer's shoes is essential. It helps you empathize with and understand their perspective, leading to a more professional response.

4. Conduct thorough research to fully grasp the problem, which will enable you to offer comprehensive solutions.

5. Responding to negative reviews is vital, showing customers that their concerns are taken seriously.

6. Publicizing your responses can build trust and transparency.

7. Sometimes, you might even encourage satisfied customers to modify their reviews.

8. Documenting and analyzing feedback is essential for continuous improvement, ensuring mistakes aren't repeated.

9. Lastly, encourage all customers to leave reviews, fostering a balanced and consistent online reputation.

How to Reply to Negative Reviews

When responding to negative feedback, the most important thing is getting your reply spot on. Here are 7 simple steps for doing that.

1. Say thank you

If they didn't tell you, how would you know? Starting with a simple "Thank you for your review" acknowledges that you appreciate constructive feedback and also demonstrates you're prepared to admit to your mistakes - you don't take the high road.

2. Apologise

Sorry can go a long way. However blunt or angry negative reviews may seem, it's important to remember that your customers are not the enemy and are unlikely to have left you unfavourable feedback for no reason at all.

Whatever their feedback and whether you agree with it or not, you should apologise for the upset caused. Do this sincerely and understandingly as a way of winning your disgruntled customer over before you take any steps towards tackling the issue at hand.

3. Personalise your review responses

This is the rule that is most frequently broken. Nothing frustrates a customer or potential customer more than reading a canned, irrelevant response.

Instead of getting a response out as quickly as possible, take some time to fully understand the customer's issue. This may involve speaking to team members in other departments and even test-running the issue yourself to find any bumps in the road.

Oliver Bonas Review Response

In your response, reply back to the specifics in the initial review and, using your findings, try to explain the reason for the issue. All of this will help to calm a frustrated reviewer.

4. Offer a solution

In an ideal world, you'd provide every negative reviewer with a solution to their problem. Whilst not always possible, it should be a rule you try to stick to.

A solution can be in the form of a refund or return or perhaps just some advice about the product/service that's caused the problem.

By providing a solution, you are literally, turning the positive into a negative which will save relationships and showcase great customer service too.

5. Reiterate your company ethos

Once you've thanked, apologised and done your best to solve the problem at the heart of the negative review, it's a good idea to reiterate your business' vision to show the customer the mishap wasn't up to your usual standards.  

If you are a fashion e-commerce retailer, your goal might be to provide the highest quality products at the lowest price all while having efficient delivery. In this case, you might respond to a complaint about delivery similarly to the example below:

"Dear Mr Taylor, I was disappointed to hear that you had not received your parcel on the delivery day given when you placed your order. I have followed up with our courier company and they have confirmed that the delivery did not take place due to an unforeseen driver problem. When we started "A Fashion Website" our goal was always to offer exceptional delivery and price. Unfortunately, in this instance, we have failed to meet our high standards. We will be having further discussions with our courier partner on how we can make sure this type of problem does not happen in the future."

6. Offer a follow-up

Before you sign off, reiterate the importance of customer satisfaction to your business by offering to discuss the matter further.

Evergreen trees & shrubs review response

Something along the lines of "I have emailed you my contact details if you would like to discuss this matter further." This shows your door is always open and that when customers choose to shop with you, no problem goes unresolved.

7. Avoid Any Profanity Language

The final rule on our list is more of a don't than a do.

In general, compensation shouldn't be mentioned in any review response. Mentioning any profanity language word usually opens the floodgates around trust and bribery. It could also set this as a standard procedure for your company, which is not what you want.

If you feel compelled to offer compensation, make sure you do this via a private email or call.

Your Ready-to-use Checklist to Reply to Negative Feedback

  • Say Thank You: Start with "Thank you for your review" to show appreciation for the feedback.
  • Apologize: Offer a sincere apology for any inconvenience or upset caused, regardless of your agreement with the feedback.
  • Personalize Your Responses: Avoid canned responses. Understand the customer's issue and address the specifics in your reply.
  • Offer a Solution: Provide a practical solution, such as a refund, return, or advice, to resolve the customer's problem.
  • Reiterate Your Company Ethos: Highlight your business's vision and standards to show the negative experience was an exception.
  • Offer a Follow-Up: Invite further discussion by providing contact details to show an ongoing commitment to customer satisfaction.
  • Avoid Profanity or Compensation Mention: Never use profane language or mention compensation in the public response. Handle such matters privately.

Negative review response template

review response template for negative reviews

Whilst we don't advocate using exact copied templates for review responses, to get started, they can be useful. Feel free to use the review response template above as a guide to help you ace all those replies! Be sure to customise it as much as you can to make it personal and maximise its effectiveness. It's always a good idea to check out some review response examples too before you start writing any of your own.

On the back of your research, you should now have everything you need to respond to your negative review in the best way possible. This stage is key as 61% of people say that just getting a response to their complaint is reward enough.

When responding, it's essential to be both professional and relatable. The wrong response could cause even more anger and frustration - continuing the cycle of negativity - whilst the right could completely turn things around for the unsatisfied customer and even your reputation.

reply to a review

Remember that each customer, satisfied or not, is a person. Each problem is unique and deserves some time and attention. For this reason, we strongly discourage the use of automated review responses.

For negative reviews, it's worth considering replying privately. This facilitates more conversation and will also enable disgruntled customers to blow off some steam - if necessary - without the whole World being witness.

Check out specific templates for some particular industries below.

Fashion Industry Template

Dear [Customer's Name],

Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience you experienced with your recent order. Your satisfaction is our top priority, and we are sorry to hear that we fell short of your expectations.

At [Fashion Brand Name], we strive to offer the highest quality products and exceptional customer service. We are investigating the issue with your order and have reached out to our courier to ensure this doesn't happen again.

We would love the opportunity to make this right. Please reach out to us directly at [Contact Information], so we can discuss how to best resolve this for you.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

What you should do:

  • Always acknowledge the specific issue mentioned in the review (e.g., delayed delivery, product quality).
  • Personalize the response with the customer’s name.
  • Offer a direct line of communication for further discussion.

Food and Beverage Industry Template

Dear [Customer's Name],

Thank you for your review. We are genuinely sorry to hear about your recent experience at [Restaurant/Cafe Name]. Your feedback is invaluable to us, and we regret that we did not meet your expectations.

We pride ourselves on providing delicious food and a welcoming atmosphere, and it seems we fell short during your visit. We are looking into your concerns and will take appropriate actions to improve our service.

Please contact us directly at [Contact Information], so we can learn more about your experience and find a way to make amends.

We appreciate your feedback and hope to have the chance to serve you better in the future.

What you should do:

  • Mention any specific issues related to food quality, service, or ambiance.
  • Highlight your commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.
  • Invite the customer for a follow-up discussion to resolve the issue.

Tools and Gadgets Industry Template

Dear [Customer's Name],

Thank you for your feedback regarding your recent purchase from [Store Name]. We apologize for any inconvenience you encountered and appreciate you bringing this to our attention.

At [Store Name], we aim to provide top-notch products and exceptional customer service. We are currently reviewing the issue you described to ensure it does not recur in the future.

We would like to resolve this matter to your satisfaction. Please contact us at [Contact Information], and we will do our best to assist you promptly.

Thank you for your patience and for giving us the opportunity to improve.

What you should do:

  • Specify the type of issue (e.g., product defect, shipping problem).
  • Emphasize quality control and customer support.
  • Provide clear instructions for the customer to reach out for resolution.

Software and Services Industry Template

Dear [Customer's Name],

Thank you for your review. We are sorry to hear about the issues you encountered with [Software/Service Name]. Your feedback is crucial for us to improve our offerings.

At [Company Name], we are committed to providing reliable and high-quality solutions. We are currently investigating the problem you reported and working on a fix.

Please reach out to our support team at [Contact Information] for immediate assistance. We appreciate your patience and would like to ensure your experience with us meets your expectations.

Thank you for your understanding.

What you should do:

  • Address specific software or service issues (e.g., bugs, customer support).
  • Reassure the customer about your commitment to quality and reliability.
  • Direct them to the support team for further assistance.

Hospitality Industry Template

Dear [Customer's Name],

Thank you for your feedback. We are deeply sorry to learn about your recent experience at [Hotel/Resort Name]. Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience you faced during your stay.

At [Hotel/Resort Name], we strive to provide exceptional service and comfortable accommodations. We are taking your comments seriously and will address the issues with our team to prevent future occurrences.

We would appreciate the opportunity to make amends. Please contact us at [Contact Information], so we can discuss how to make your next stay more enjoyable.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

What you should do:

  • Mention specific issues related to the stay (e.g., room conditions, service quality).
  • Highlight your commitment to providing excellent service.
  • Offer a direct line for further communication and resolution.

Real-World Examples of Responding to Unfavourable Feedback

There's no single perfect approach to responding to negative reviews. Different brands have successfully used various strategies to win back dissatisfied customers, demonstrating the potential for turning negative feedback into a positive experience. Reviewing these examples below from ReviewTrackers, you'll notice the application of several best practices.

Responding to a Negative Restaurant Review

Restaurant owners understand that great food doesn't always guarantee a flawless review. Here's an example of an empathetic response to feedback addressing other dining experience aspects.

how to response to bad reviews

Why it works

The restaurateur acknowledges that the guest's experience "could’ve been better." The response offers suggestions for a better experience next time while maintaining a polite and professional tone. By mentioning the upstairs seating, the response not only provides a solution for the current diner but also offers useful information to future potential customers reading the review.

Responding to a Negative Hotel Review

When a loyal customer expressed disappointment with her anniversary stay at the Stamford Plaza in Brisbane, executive assistant manager Dale John crafted an exemplary response.

reply to bad reviews example

Why it works

The response starts with a "thank you," addressing the reviewer directly. It specifically addresses the customer's experience and details how the hotel plans to resolve the issues and uphold its standards.

Responding to a Negative Review of a Veterinary Clinic

Veterinary clinics often deal with emotional reviews, especially during a pet health crisis. Here's an example of a well-crafted response to such a review.

response to negative reviews example

Why it works

Pet owners can be very vocal and opinionated. The clinic's response addresses the customer's experience directly and highlights the company's values, countering the notion that they are only in it for the money and showing genuine care for the animals.

Responding to a Negative Review of a Travel and Hospitality Business

JetBlue Airways uses its Twitter account as a primary customer service channel. When a customer named Esaí Vélez politely complained about his backseat TV not working, JetBlue responded swiftly.

Why it works

The prompt response is impressive. Although it’s a reply to a tweet rather than a review, it effectively displays sympathy and offers a solution (or at least a genuine attempt to make amends). 

Handle Negative Reviews Easier with

Managing negative reviews can be a daunting task, but offers several features to simplify this process and help businesses respond effectively and efficiently.

Automated Alerts

With, business owners receive instant notifications whenever a new review is posted. This feature allows you to stay on top of customer feedback and respond promptly, demonstrating your commitment to customer satisfaction. Prompt responses can help mitigate potential damage to your reputation and show customers that their concerns are taken seriously.

Centralised Dashboard

The centralised dashboard provided by consolidates reviews from multiple platforms into one convenient location. This streamlines the monitoring process, making it easier for businesses to keep track of feedback across different channels. By having all your reviews in one place, you can efficiently manage and address customer concerns without switching between various platforms. dashboard

Response Templates

Another valuable feature offered by is access to pre-built response templates. These templates ensure that your replies are professional, consistent, and tailored to common review scenarios. Using these templates can save time and help maintain a high communication standard with your customers, even when dealing with negative feedback.

email template in

AI Insights Analysis includes tools for sentiment analysis, which help you gauge the overall sentiment of customer reviews. This feature allows you to prioritize urgent issues by identifying the most critical feedback. Understanding the sentiment behind reviews can also provide insights into broader customer satisfaction trends and areas needing improvement.

ai insights from customer reviews

Review Management Tools

The platform offers robust review management tools that enable businesses to flag and report inappropriate reviews directly from the dashboard. This feature helps maintain the integrity of your reviews and ensures that any harmful or misleading feedback is appropriately addressed. By managing reviews effectively, you can protect your business's reputation and foster a more trustworthy relationship with your customers.

These features from make handling negative reviews more manageable, allowing you to focus on improving customer satisfaction and building brand trust.

How to Handle Negative Reviews?

Negative reviews are part and parcel of doing business both online and offline. Even the world’s best-run businesses will be seen as doing something wrong at some point, which may lead to a customer leaving an unhappy review.

However, negative reviews are not the end of the world and should not be shied away from. Savvy consumers rarely trust a business with hundreds of straight 5-star reviews - 68% of consumers actually trust reviews more when they see both positive and negative reviews!

Handled well, they can actually be your friend, helping you to learn more about your current customers and business offerings and do better in the future. Here's to turning positives into negatives - after all flowers can't grow without the rain! Trial for free for 14-days to see how you can highlight your product's value and quality.

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