Skip to content
Customer feedback tips

How to respond to negative feedback

Businesses will receive feedback, whether they encourage it or not. Even more frustrating is the fact that people are more likely to leave a review only when they have had either an exceptional experience or a negative one – that is, if they remember to at all.

When you receive feedback that is negative, it can put a huge damper on your business. Dropping a star rating, being blasted on social media, or having negative reviews can directly impact revenue, and unfortunately, it may not always be fair. However, how you respond to negative feedback is just another aspect of great customer service and responding correctly can be done by following a few easy tips and tricks.

The importance of customer feedback

It’s normal and natural to get negative feedback, and receiving a few negative reviews is acceptable for any business. In fact, a few negative reviews are actually preferable. Customers are untrusting of companies that only have 5-star or positive reviews as this suggests you may have paid for fake reviews.

Though having a few negative reviews is fine, you don’t want to leave them unattended. Managing your reputation is key, especially as 97% of people will go through online reviews before buying from or visiting a local business.

93% of buyers also state that online reviews impact their purchasing decisions, and studies have found that upgrading from a 3-star rating to a 4-star rating or similar could increase your revenue by 5-9%.

The right way to respond to negative feedback

How a business responds to negative feedback is very important. Some businesses try to shift blame, but this will only result in customers feeling defensive. You need to acknowledge the problem, apologize, and work out an acceptable resolution. Sometimes, customers want financial compensation; other times, they just want the business in question to acknowledge the issue and change.

The best way to diffuse an angry customer review

The best way any business owner can diffuse an angry customer review is to acknowledge their bad experience and to apologize properly. Customers can understand if something went wrong that wasn’t supposed to, but if they are made to feel bad for their own bad experience, that is another story.

You may also have people who attempt to twist the story in their favor. A customer might leave a negative review claiming your customer service was terrible when, in actuality, the customer themself was abusive. When explaining the reason for their experience, try not to place blame, but instead reiterate your no-abuse policy.

How you respond needs to be neutral, compassionate and professional. The way you deal with negative reviews is going to be noted by other customers reading the reviews.

How to deal with negative reviews on social media

Negative reviews on social media can be another beast entirely. Twitter, for example, is a common site where customers will leave negative feedback. The issue is that they aren’t just giving a negative review, but they are also discouraging their followers from using your business at the same time.

Respond to them the same way you would respond to any negative review and be open to the fact that it is on a public forum. Invite the reviewer to contact your business directly on a private channel so that you may provide a great experience and work to resolve the issue effectively.

How to deal with negative feedback

You cannot stop customers from leaving a review, but you can improve how you respond to it.

How to respond to negative reviews

Negative reviews occur when customer experiences were less than expected, however, are an opportunity to win back that customer.

1. Acknowledge the problem and take ownership

Receiving negative feedback can be tough, but don’t take it personally. Acknowledge the problem and the experience your customer has had. This is the first step to making amends.

2. Respond quickly to new reviews

Use reputation management software so that you can stay on top of new reviews. You can be updated instantly, so have someone available to respond as quickly as possible. Responding to a negative review in under an hour is a good policy.

3. Make a genuine apology

When you respond to reviewers, you need to make a genuine apology and explain that you will aim to do better in the future. Apologize that you couldn’t provide a great experience and that you are sorry they had such a bad time with your brand. This opens up the dialogue that will enable you to fix the problem and turn a bad experience into a positive one.

4. Provide an explanation, not an excuse

The best negative review response is to acknowledge the issue, explain if there were other extenuating circumstances (like your systems were down, there was a blackout, etc.) but don’t make excuses.

5. Continue the conversation personally

Provide your contact information so that you can continue the conversation personally. In order to understand more about what went wrong and to provide the customer with compensation, you will need personal information, and this can and should only be obtained through private communications:

  • Private message
  • Phone call
  • Email

6. Provide appropriate compensation

Finally, to resolve the issue, consider what compensation would be appropriate. A small discount or money towards their next purchase can convince a customer who has had one negative experience with you to try again. Getting a second chance this way can turn a bad review into a loyal customer that helps you out by promoting your exceptional customer service.

Preventing loads of negative feedback

The best way to deal with loads of public negative reviews is to prevent most of them from happening in the first place. By using an instant feedback solution to continuously measure customer satisfaction, you can act upon customer pain points and improve their experience.

How to respond to a good review to maintain consumer loyalty

The good news is that it’s not all bad news. Though perhaps less often than the reverse, you will have customers who go above and beyond to recommend your business with positive reviews, and you should aim to respond and reward them. Potential customers look first and foremost at detailed reviews – both good and bad – and responding to positive reviews can actually encourage more customers to leave a glowing review.

A small thank you for taking the time to write a positive review can make that customer and others like them feel more inclined to do business with you in the future and leave reviews to tell others about their positive experience.

  • Customer feedback tips