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How to Respond to Bad Customer Reviews


Customer reviews are vital for any small business. More often than not, we typically see business owners only responding to positive reviews, and that honestly makes sense in a way. It’s only natural to want to accentuate the good reviews in hopes that they bury the bad, and it can be completely disheartening to see a negative review on your business page. Bad reviews, especially for Google Reviews, can be detrimental to your business if not handled correctly.  

Responding to negative reviews can be challenging, but it is an essential aspect of managing your online reputation and building customer trust. Here’s what to do when you receive a bad review.  

Read and Understand the Review  

The first step is understanding why you received the negative review, i.e. where the customer is coming from, and talking to your team internally to gather more information. You don’t want to react defensively or emotionally towards the reviewer. It’s possible that the reviewer may just be having a bad day, and this is an opportunity to be both empathetic and strategic.  

Take the time to evaluate the situation and identify if any mistakes were indeed made on your end. If so, decide on the best course of action with this reviewer. You could offer a refund or a discount on their next service, depending on the situation.  

Respond Quickly and Politely to the Bad Review  

It is best to respond in a timely manner to every review, but negative reviews especially require quick action. You don’t want the wrong story snowballing and there may be an opportunity to see if the customer is willing to take the review down, if approached correctly. Aim to respond within 48 hours of the bad review.  

When responding, remember how this situation unfolded.  

If it was an honest mistake by one of your employees, politely apologize for the issue and ask them to contact the store directly to discuss the situation further. Remember to keep it personal – use their name and speak in a friendly manner. Ensure that you tailor your response so that it truly conveys the sense that you care about making the situation right.  

If you have gone over the situation and the negative review was either inaccurate or completely false, it isn’t always a bad move to call it out as such. You just need to be intentional with how you respond.  

Maintain a level of personal touch by using the reviewer’s name and addressing the situation. You can provide the lengths your company has gone to accommodate them before this escalation. After you outline the situation, maintain a polite and composed tone, apologize for their negative experience, and wish them a good day. Don’t haggle with them if they choose to continue the conversation online. The longer you engage in an online back-and-forth, the more likely you are to be drawn into an unprofessional argument. 

Consider Opportunity for Growth  

After you’ve received a negative review, consider how you can do better next time. If your employees need better training, this is a time to identify their blind spots so you can grow from this review. Ensure you are taking thoughtful steps towards growth whenever you encounter a negative review.  

You can’t prevent negative reviews all the time, but you can be strategic in how you respond to them. Hot Dog Marketing readily offers business insight like this when you enroll in our marketing services. We’re your partner every step of the way to help your business grow.  

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