Protect Your Reputation: How to Respond to Negative Reviews

negative reviews thought bubble

People value what others say about a product or service. Before purchasing, 91% of people read online reviews, 84% believe them, and 68% only need to read between one and six reviews to be convinced. You cannot control what others say. But you can respond to negative reviews in a way that helps your reputation, rather than hindering it. 

Respond Promptly

When consumers leave a negative review, they often feel dissatisfied, angry, wronged, and/or misled. Do not stir the pot more by also making them feel unheard.

Harvard Business Study found that companies that respond to customer comments within the hour were SIXTY times more likely to qualify the lead than those who waited a full day. The takeaway? Consumers appreciate attention.

When negative online reviews pop up, give yourself about an hour to think about it. Then, reply with a thoughtful response.

Make It Personal

While a simple “thank you” response can suffice for a complement, you must put more into it when responding to negative online reviews. Take a more formal approach to appear professional and sincere.

Starting with “Dear Guest” may irk them more as it feels generic. Also, throughout your response, it’s important avoid using cookie-cutter phrases and cliches.

Instead, address them by using their name, and make it personal. Address specifics that they mention so that their concern feels heard and thought through.


Not all apologies will work in your favor. Some sound condescending and can make things worse. Take care to apologize appropriately.

Read their complaint multiple times to ensure that you know exactly what to apologize for. If you say sorry for the wrong thing, they will dismiss your apology entirely.

Choose your words wisely. Do not begin with, “I’m sorry that you feel…” Instead, apologize directly to your end of the problem.

Do not kiss up to the customer in an apology to the point that it sounds insincere. Make it thoughtful and direct.

Take Ownership

Take ownership of the mistake. Do not apologize and then pass the blame onto them or anybody else. 

Make zero excuses for what happened. Owning the mistake earns you respect. It also allows you to recognize what you did wrong. This sets you up to properly fix things.

Connect With the Reviewer

After making a public apology, state that you will connect with the reviewer offline to make things right. This lets outside viewers know that you will handle this issue further without making a show about how good you are at handling things.

Connect with the consumer by phone if possible to reconnect and show them the human behind the business. This will help them forgive the mistake.

Make It Right

Make the issue right after receiving negative customer reviews. Begin by stating how you plan to change whatever went wrong. Without this, the same thing will probably happen again in the future.

Then, offer the angry customer something that helps them feel understood. This shows you care about their concerns and want to make an effort to improve things.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Learn how to respond to negative reviews and practice it. Learn and grow from your mishaps and show customers that you care.

We want your business to connect with others, expand its reach, and succeed. Need help managing your online reviews? We’ve got you covered – contact us to get started!