How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Contrary to popular belief, bad reviews aren’t necessarily bad for business. This post offers 10 tips to let your customers know you care.

Consumer reviews can make or break a business. These days, there are several consumer review sites that potential customers are likely to visit when they're looking to make a purchase. However, contrary to popular belief, bad reviews aren’t necessarily bad for business.

68% of shoppers trust reviews more when they see both positive and negative content.

A general rule of thumb is the more expensive the purchase, the more time consumers will spend researching their options. Most people view online reviews as trustworthy as a personal recommendation from somebody they know. And they trust reviews more when they see a mix of good and bad feedback.

Did you know that 53% of consumers specifically seek out bad reviews for one or more products they’re interested in?

If potential customers see unresolved negative reviews, they'll likely ignore your company and product as a possible option. Not only does responding to negative reviews provide you with the chance to right your wrongs and potentially keep hold of an existing customer, but it can also help you to attract new customers by letting them know that if something does go wrong with their purchase, you'll promptly resolve it.

Negative reviews can have a devastating impact on your business if left unresolved. As such, it's best to follow these 10 tips and let your customers know you care.

10 easy tips to consider when replying to negative reviews

While the perfect response varies on a case-by-case basis, here's a set of best practices that work in generally every situation.

1. Apologize

Customers leaving a negative review are often disappointed and angry. It's a good bet to open your response with a sincere apology.

2. Don't Take it Personally

While it can feel like a personal attack, especially when you've worked so hard to establish your business, it's important to remember the reviewer is disappointed with the product and not you.

3. Respond ASAP

It's busy running a business. You're likely to have a ton of other things to do when a bad review appears. Leaving too long before apologizing may make it seem insincere. Try to reply in 24 hours, when possible.

4. Always Respond

Some people would advise against replying to every negative review. However, it's more than just the negative reviewer that you're making an impression on; it's the countless other potential customers who are reading the review.

5. Let the Reviewer Know Who is Replying

Letting the customer know who you are means they'll feel connected to your team and know that it's not a random stranger trying to make things better. For example, if you're the owner or the manager, make sure to open your response with your job title so they know you're taking their complaint seriously.

6. Thank Them for Their Feedback

While thanking reviewers may seem unnecessary as they're critiquing your product, it will help them feel heard and that their opinion is valued.

7. Make the Response Feel Personal

Personalizing your response will help the reviewer to know that you've truly taken their feedback on board. A copy and paste generic response will do more harm than good. A good example of how to achieve this would be to address them by their first name.

8. Offer Some Form of Compensation

While this is optional, it can help you ease the problems and ask customers to change their negative review into a positive one. Good examples of compensation are a future discount, special promotion, or refund depending on the circumstances.

9. Keep it Short and to the Point

Longer replies can come off as being desperate and defensive. More often than not, there's no need for drawn-out apologies. Try and aim for no more than two paragraphs — one addressing the issue and one resolving it.

10. Take the Chat Offline

Offer to resolve the issue via phone call or an in-store conversation. Things will be more humanized and less confrontational. Taking things to a private medium can do wonders for conflict resolution.

Bonus tip: Use a customizable response template

It can be a challenge to reply to negative reviews without taking the criticisms to heart. Thankfully, we've compiled these two templates that will serve as a good starting point when you have negative feedback to respond to. Remember always to tweak them to the situation. If customers see the same template over and over again, they're likely to disregard your response as insincere.

Hi Name,
We're sorry that our product didn't meet your expectations and we'd like to make this up to you. If you could call us on phone number and provide us with details of your order, we'll arrange for a discount on your next purchase with us. Sorry again for the inconvenience.

If you feel that a discount or refund isn't necessary, you may instead wish to use a response such as this:

Hi Name,
Thank you for taking the time to leave us your honest feedback. It's reviews like yours that help us to make better decisions as a company. Going forward, we will be taking active steps to reduce the chances of this happening again. Are there any other ways in which we can help you today?

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