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Why you should ALWAYS answer negative reviews and how to respond in the best way (5 great examples + template)

  • Reviews
  • 14 min read

why you should always answer negative reviews and how to respond in the best way (5 great examples + template)

Negative reviews are an inevitable part of doing business, especially if you are selling online. That is true, no matter how great your product or service may be. While it can be (and it is) tempting to ignore negative feedback or respond defensively, it is crucial to remember that addressing negative reviews can improve your reputation. In some cases, it may even strengthen your relationship with your customers. In the best cases, it may turn unhappy users into loyal customers.

Why should I answer negative reviews?

There are too many reasons to list. Keep in mind: you may not be able to change the reviewer’s mind about their experience, but you can convince hundreds of potential customers that you will address the issues and do better in the future. To summarize the key advantages, we have prepared a list of 8 benefits.

  1. Negative reviews give you an opportunity to acknowledge mistakes, work on them and evolve. Nobody is perfect. Therefore, no business is perfect. Negative reviews that include real motivation can highlight areas for improvement. By responding to negative reviews, you can show that you are willing to listen to your customers and take their feedback seriously. This leads us to the second benefit.
  2. Negative reviews show that you care about your customers. Ignoring negative reviews sends the message that you don’t care about the issues your customers have experienced with your products or services. In some cases, negative reviews are caused by (a lack of) customer service. When this is the case, answering a negative review can be the best way to redeem your business. Show your customers that you care and they may change their minds.
  3. Negative reviews can be turned into positive experiences. Although initially this may sound like a fairytale, it’s not uncommon for customers to have a negative experience and then have it turned around by a thoughtful and helpful response from a business. By showing empathy and taking steps to address the issue, you can turn a negative review into a positive experience for the customer.
  4. Reducing the impact of negative reviews. By responding to negative reviews, you can provide context and clarify any misunderstandings, which can help reduce the impact of the negative review. Think about it. Would you be willing to purchase from a company that received a terrible review and ignored it? By providing context and reasons (not justifications), you can defuse the bomb and save your reputation from the explosion.
  5. It provides an opportunity to show your skills and customer service. Responding to negative reviews allows you to demonstrate your commitment to customer service. By answering negative comments, you indicate that you are willing to go the extra mile to resolve issues. But it’s not only about public demonstrations. You can use your answer to follow up with the unsatisfied customer and invite them to contact you and resolve the issue.
  6. It shows transparency. By responding to negative reviews, you can show that you are transparent and willing to be open and honest with your customers. This is extremely valuable for fintech companies and any other business that deal with high-end clients. Regardless, every company can benefit from being transparent. This can turn into trust and loyalty with your customers.
  7. It improves employee morale. No one likes to work for a company with a terrible reputation. You can improve employee morale by addressing negative reviews as soon as they happen by taking the steps to resolve any issues. All you need to do is demonstrate that you care about your customers and the customer experience. Lead by example and ensure everybody is respected.
  8. It increases customer retention. When addressing negative reviews and taking steps to resolve any issues, you can potentially improve the customer retention rate and reduce churn. This can save you time and money in the long run. As you probably already know, it is often cheaper to retain old customers than to acquire new ones.

Five examples of successful companies dealing with negative reviews

It is best to take examples from companies who know how to manage crises and threats to their online reputation. Before we proceed with tips on dealing with negative reviews, we have prepared a small list of industry leaders on top of their review game.


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Source: Trustpilot

#1 Example: Win & Office and the perfect apology.

The first example comes from Win & Office.

Notice how the first thing they do is apologize, although it’s most likely an error on the customer’s behalf. Even though the issue is likely something small such as the email landing in the spam folder, they have quickly troubleshot the issue and offered a solution. They have provided their contact details and took full responsibility for what happened. Their great response and efforts are not enough to get a review removed, but they did more than enough to seduce curious visitors and prove them they are reliable. As a result, they turned a negative review into a positive one.


how to respond to negative reviews 4

Source: Trustpilot

#2 Example: LoveHoney gets straight to the point.

LoveHoney delivers a friendly message in a direct yet polite way.

First, they thank the reviewer for sharing feedback. Now, your first instinct when someone writes a negative review for your business may not be to thank the customer or apologize. Sometimes we must fight against our instinct to let logic and good sense prevail. That’s precisely what the Lovehoney Customer Care team does when dealing with negative reviews. Once again, apologies are offered along with a way for the customer to receive further assistance. At times, simplicity is better than lengthy messages and monologues that may further annoy the client.

Pro Tip: Try to slip in a polite request to change the review’s rating if the problem has been resolved.

how to respond to negative reviews 3

Source: Trustpilot

#3 Example: Super Casuals being super casual.

We can all learn from the way Steve at Super Casuals deals with negative reviews.

Truly embracing the brand name, he instantly zaps the negative review with a casual and calm attitude. Instead of profusely apologizing to the customer, he provides a free replacement with no return needed. More prominent companies like Amazon share the “we’ll take care of it for you ” approach that Super Casuals chose in this situation. Will the customer delete the review or change it into a positive one? It does not matter. The company protected its online reputation and showed everyone how issues are handled quickly and professionally.


how to respond to negative reviews 2

Source: Trustpilot

#4 Example: Pawn America dealing with an angry couple.

Even though the format could be better, Pawn America shows us how to handle an extreme situation and an extremely angry customer.

When you make a mistake, there is no coming back. This is what happens when a simple error in the delivery method turns into a ruined anniversary day. The apology seems sincere, and this is where apologizing is all you can do. Imagine ignoring a negative review like the one above and turning down all the potential couples looking for a gift for their loved ones. Instead, anyone reading the review how the company admitted and acknowledged its mistake. If you realized there was a human behind the company, you would surely understand and forgive them.

how to respond to negative reviews 1

Source: Trustpilot

#5 Example: B-Wear Sportswear doing simple damage control.

At first glance, there is nothing special about this negative review answer from B-Wear. This last example is simple, yet interesting.

It’s important to notice how this response ticks all the boxes and the “requirements” that a proper answer must satisfy. They apologized for the issue. They said they are working on it. They provided a valid reason for what happened. They provided contact details and instructed the customer on what to do next, then apologized again. With many departments that work in parallel, sometimes managing a company can feel like waiting for the planets to align. The stars do align, eventually. In the meantime, it’s essential to keep calm and deal with whatever comes your way.

Seven things you should always do when answering your negative reviews

Did you learn something from the examples above? If you didn’t, worry not. We have prepared a list of all the best tips you should follow when responding to negative reviews. Here are some tips:

  1. Be timely. Respond to your negative reviews as soon as possible. Timing is paramount. Not only a quick response show your customers that you care about them, but it also demonstrates that you are proactive in addressing issues. Moreover, the more time that passes without your answer, the most likely visitors are going to be discouraged by the negative review(s) that have been ignored.
  2. Thank the customer for the feedback. As we said earlier, your first instinct when someone writes a negative review may not be to say “thank you”. You need to overcome your killer instinct and thank the customer for expressing his opinion.
  3. Apologize for the negative experience. This goes without saying. Even if you believe the review is not justified, it’s very important to apologize. This shows the reviewer and other potential customers that you are taking their concerns seriously and are willing to take steps to make things right. Anybody can make a mistake, but not everyone is able to own up to it
  4. Ask for the order information. Whether it’s an email address or an order ID, this gives you an opportunity to open a new dialogue and reach the customer through a different channel. If you are lucky (or if you can create your luck), you will be able to de-escalate the issue and get a second chance to make things right.
  5. Offer a solution. If there is a specific issue that the customer has raised, try to offer a solution where possible. This could be a refund, a discount code, a replacement, or some other form of compensation. Obviously, this is not always feasible. The goal is to show that you are willing to go above and beyond to make things right. Sometimes, all it takes is a refund to rescue your reputation.
  6. Ask them to change their review. You can only rely on this last resort when the problem has been resolved, or you are confident it can be resolved soon. In some cases, asking the customer to change their review can be seen as rude or offensive. Hence, you must carefully calibrate your words and ensure they come across as genuine and polite rather than abrupt and pushy.
  7. Keep it professional. Last but not least, keep your cool and be professional. It can be tempting to get defensive or argue with the customer, but it’s important to remain professional at all times. Stay calm and avoid using personal attacks or inflammatory language.

The secret formula: respond to negative reviews using our template

After analyzing dozens of companies, we have prepared something for you. The template below contains the perfect way to answer any negative review. Before providing the template, let’s dive into the key points we must deliver when answering an unsatisfied customer.

  1. Apologize, apologize, apologize. This might seem obvious, but we must emphasize the importance of an apology. Try to make your apology look sincere and keep them short. No one wants to hear a monologue, but you also must let the customer know (or at least believe) you are sorry for what happened.
  2. Provide a solution or an explanation. Even when you’re at a loss, providing a refund or replacement could be the only way to satisfy an angry customer and encourage him to change the review. If you are happy to pay for ads and get good publicity, you should be willing to pay to preserve your reputation and limit negative comments and reviews as much as possible. If you offer a refund or replacement, there can only be a good outcome. In the best case, the negative review will either be removed or turned into a positive one. In the worse case, anyone who reads that negative review will see a good business owner handling an unfortunate situation in the best way possible.
  3. Let the customer know where he can reach you. Live chat and email are the most common options, but you can also provide a phone number. It is advisable to either give the contact details of a specific rep or warn your support team about the user and his negative review. This way, you will avoid giving yet another canned response to an undecided customer who may be finally willing to change his mind.
  4. Apologize one more time. Whether the negative review is justified or not, it is your responsibility to make things right. Especially when the customer firmly believes you are the one to blame (and the customer is always right, right?). Make it clear you are sorry for what happened and you will ensure it doesn’t ever happen again.

You’re probably fed with tips and suggestions. Let’s get straight to the point. If you have one or more negative reviews and you’re looking for the best way to deal with this unpleasant situation: try our template!

Hi {name},

We are terribly sorry that you have had this issue. Happy customers are our top priority so we always strive to rectify any negative experiences. We would like to offer you a full refund. If you decide to give us another chance, we will happily provide a 50% discount off your next order. Please contact us at {contact details} for further assistance.

We apologize once again for the inconvenience.

Kind regards,
{Your name} – Customer Care Manager

As with every template, it is not meant to be copied and pasted as it is. Give it a spin, add your own creative touch and make it personal. If you can convince your customer the problem has been resolved, you will be able to convince all those reading the reviews. Positive reviews are extremely important for your business, as they can improve search rankings and conversion rates – amongst a plethora of other benefits.

Plan B: suppressing your negative review(s) with positive ones.

In certain cases, your customers may refuse your solution or completely ignore it. When this happens, there are other things you can do. Industry leaders that are obsessed with their online reputation often decide to purchase fake reviews.

Although this is considered taboo for most small businesses, it is a widely adopted practice in bigger companies. If you knew how influential online reviews are for your business, you wouldn’t waste one second before replying to negative reviews and outweighing them with convincing positive comments.

In this way, you can turn all the uncommitted visitors scrolling through your page into loyal customers. As we said earlier, every human makes mistakes and there are humans behind every single company. Show your visitors enough positive reviews and they will outweigh the negative ones.

Wrapping up

In summary, answering negative reviews is vital for building trust with your customers and improving your reputation. By showing empathy, offering solutions, and remaining professional, you can turn a negative review into a positive experience and strengthen your relationship with your customers.

Buying fake reviews can instantly improve your online reputation and prove your reliability. With that said, you should still answer negative reviews and provide a valid explanation. When possible, you should also provide a solution and/or compensation.

Ormosis - Guerrilla Marketing & Online Reputation Management
Ormosis – Guerrilla Marketing & Online Reputation Management