Responding to Negative Reviews Online

Responding to negative reviews with a thoughtful response can turn these reviews into opportunities for growth and improvements for exceptional customer service.

Online reviews hold significant influence over businesses and their reputation. While positive reviews can boost customer confidence, negative reviews can be a cause for concern. However, negative feedback doesn’t have to be detrimental to your brand. 

In this article, we will explore several effective pro strategies for responding to negative reviews online. 

1. Promptly Monitor and Acknowledge the Review

The first step in responding to negative reviews is to actively monitor your online presence across various platforms, including:

  • Forums
  • Social media
  • Review sites (e.g. Google)

Plus, promptly acknowledging negative reviews demonstrates your commitment to addressing customer concerns. 

It’s important to take action on negative reviews as soon as possible. However, it’s crucial to at least respond within 48 hours.

As always, consult with your team and customer notes to figure out what happened. Also, this will help to provide some additional details as well as contact information. If you can’t find the customer in your database, or if you have no record of this issue, then be sure to explain that in your response.

2. Apologize and Make It Right

Whether the customer’s bad experience is true or untrue is besides the point. Remember, this is their perceived value of their experience so it is important to apologize.

When responding to negative reviews online, start by thanking the customer for taking the time to provide feedback. This gesture shows empathy and acknowledges their experience. Even if you disagree with their assessment, it’s important to maintain a respectful tone throughout your response.

Also, let other readers know their input is valuable in improving your customer experience. Then, you’ll want to take the conversation offline as soon as possible. 

For example, you can say something like:

  • [client name], thank you for helping us improve our customer service with your valuable feedback. We deeply care about our customer experience, and this experience is not our goal. We’re having a representative reach out to you by the end of today so we can resolve this for you as soon as possible!

Also, remember to keep each response personal so that you don’t provide copy-and-paste responses that might come off the wrong way.

3. Be Polite and Professional

Even if the review comes off as rude and untrue, it is very important to always be polite in your response. Think of your future customers.

Did you know 95% of potential customers look at online reviews before they use a business or product?

If a business responds to negative reviews in a rude manner, that is a major red flag. It comes off like the business does not care about its customers.

For this reason, negative reviews can sometimes provide more meaningful opportunities than positive ones. After all, customers want to hire a field service business that cares about the customer experience.

Before responding to negative reviews, put yourself in the customer’s shoes and try to understand why they are frustrated. Offer a solution to the problem and be diplomatic in your response. 

Keep in mind, getting defensive in your response will not help. In fact, it will likely make things worse. Customers are the center of your business so it’s best to respond to reviews appropriately.

4. Take the Conversation Offline

Like we briefly discussed earlier, it’s important to drive the conversation offline into a private conversation as soon as possible. This is the most effective way to have a meaningful, calm and constructive conversation with customers.

If possible, reach out to the customer directly and let them know you’re contacting them in your public response.

However, if you can’t locate the customer’s contact information, then provide them with your contact details to encourage the reviewer to reach out to you directly.

In turn, this approach helps protect customer privacy, demonstrates your commitment to resolving the problem and allows for a more personalized, focused discussion.

Offering a direct line of communication also provides an opportunity to gather more information about the issue, enabling you to better understand and address the customer’s concerns.

For example you can say something like:

  • We can’t find your contact information in our database, but we would love the chance to talk to you more about your experience. Please call us at XXX-XXX-XXXX so we can quickly resolve this issue.

5. Encourage Happy Customers to Write Positive Reviews

When customers inevitably give you a negative review, it’s important to make sure your business has enough positive reviews to balance it out.

In order to encourage more positive reviews, consider asking happy customers to leave positive reviews after they’ve complimented your work. However, it’s important not to incentivize reviews, since this can lead to potential legal implications.

A Few Final Pro Tips for Responding to Negative Reviews

Here are a few examples of what NOT to do when responding to negative reviews:

Using Defensive Language

It is easy to get sucked into the trap of replying with “your side of the story,” but being defensive just invites an argument that will hurt your business. Be professional and patient with the “keyboard warriors” trying to challenge you as you represent the business.  

Providing Too Many Details About the Situation

Avoid “getting into the weeds” when providing answers. Providing too many details just exacerbates the issue. If you need to explain something to the angry customer, do so very politely offline in a way that makes the customer feel better about the situation. The best reply is always short, direct and helpful.

Inviting a Rebuttal

Avoid saying anything that invites any type of rebuttal. The last thing you need is a public, online argument. Do not get heated and wait to reply until you know exactly how to respond to the review. Remember, this includes deflecting responsibility or blaming the customer.

Knowing how to diffuse situations will work in your favor as you navigate the challenges of online reviews. Reviews (both positive and negative) actually provide opportunities for your business to connect with your customers. 

You’re Now Ready to Rock Those Negative Reviews! 

You are armed with pro strategies for responding to negative reviews. Keep your business reputation in good standing online by using the expert tips and strategies outlined in this article. Use these simple steps to turn negative reviews into an opportunity to make improvements.  

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Your timely, respectful response can turn complaints into opportunities
  • The best way to balance out bad reviews with good ones is to encourage happy clients to write reviews
  • Avoiding public confrontation, excuses and the blame game when responding to negative reviews online

Put these expert tips and strategies to work so you can begin responding to negative reviews online like a pro!


Related: Responding to Reviews Online for Field Services


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