Tips and tricks: responding to negative reviews

Top tips

  1. The need for speed – a prompt and public response is best.
  2. Be accountable – apologise and own up to mistakes.
  3. Share the love – posting a solution publicly may help many customers.
  4. Work it out – come up with a solution for the customer.

Customer reviews can be both a blessing and a curse. Great reviews provide social proof  and put potential customers at ease. On the flip side, not every review can be five stars, and negative customer reviews are almost impossible to avoid. Rather than take your frustration out on your keyboard, use unfavourable reviews as an opportunity to show your transparency and dedication to customer service.

While it may seem daunting, turning a bad customer review into a positive for your business is easier than you think.

A quick response is a good response.

If a negative customer review is left for too long without a response, potential customers can lose confidence in your company. After all, 85% of consumers check for negative reviews before committing to a purchase. And if a negative review doesn’t have a public response from your company, you’re saying that you don’t care about your customers. Try to respond to all reviews as quickly as possible. Even a short response where you simply acknowledge the customer’s position is better than no reply at all.

Take responsibility

It’s easy to blame links in the chain for a bad experience. Don’t be tempted to take the easy way out. Your customer didn’t choose your suppliers or employees, nor do they care where the mistake originated. They put their trust in you, so it’s important that you work on winning them back by taking responsibility for any mistakes. You can, of course, address the issue with your employee or supplier later on, but leave the customer out of that process.


“Sorry” really does go a long way. Even when a problem isn’t your fault, you still need to be accountable and apologise to your customer. At the very least, you can always be sorry that the customer has had a bad experience. No one wants that for their customers.

Work out a solution

You should always try to find a satisfactory solution for your customers. Ideally, you should reach out to the customer privately after the review has been posted, as personal information will most likely be required. However, if that’s not possible when responding, address their comments and encourage them to contact your customer service team privately to find a result that works for both parties.

For customers you have already been in contact with privately, whether they reached out on other channels or your team could contact them directly, it’s still important to publicly address their review. Firstly, you want to show other customers that you have acknowledged the review and are taking action; otherwise, it can look like you ignored it. Secondly, the review may raise questions or concerns that others also want to have addressed. Responding to the review can help clear up any outstanding issues for other customers.

Customers read bad reviews first

When customers scroll through reviews online, they likely skip the five-star reviews and go straight to the one or two-star customer reviews to see if the company has responded and what that reply was. This tends to influence their willingness to purchase from or deal with a company.

Learn to love negative reviews

No, really. A bad customer review can be great when used in the right way.

Remember, bad reviews are an opportunity to demonstrate your willingness to take responsibility and find a solution. Your ability to show how you handle problems can give potential customers more confidence in your company. You are also more likely to turn that customer’s negative experience into a positive one and work towards restoring that customer’s confidence in your brand. Customers are more likely to feel goodwill towards your business after a poor experience (as long as it was resolved) than if they’d just had an average yet forgettable experience.

The other amazing benefit of negative reviews is that they create an opportunity for you to refine your products and services, or identify any gaps in your offering. These insights can be pivotal in growing your business.

Okay, now go and check your reviews! Did you know that any 1&2 star reviews can be sent to your inbox directly to respond to offline with the Smart Reviews platform? Learn more about the platform and how it can make getting quality reviews for your business a breeze!

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