How to Respond to Negative Customer Reviews

May marks Mental Health Month in several countries around the globe. As part of our continuing series on mental health, we’re accepting that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Here’s our tips for responding to negative customer reviews.

Reviews have never played a bigger role in the customer decision making process. In fact, 97 per cent of customers will consult an online review before making a purchasing decision. Though we strive to minimize their frequency, bad reviews are a fact of life. Not everyone is going to walk away from a purchase with a universally good impression of your business. How you choose to respond to these negative reviews will not only impact your business, it can also have an impact on your mental health.

View a Negative Review as an Opportunity

When he wasn’t peddling his circus around the Great Plains, PT Barnum remarked that “no publicity is bad publicity”. This logic can be applied to negative reviews. No matter how well prepared and resourced your customer service efforts are, eventually a customer will feel compelled to provide negative feedback. Don’t shy away from this or ignore it. A bad review provides a compelling opportunity for you to publicize yourself by righting the wrong, preferably where potential customers can see it. Here are our tips for how to respond to negative reviews.

Speed is Important

Timing is key when it comes to responding to a negative review. While there’s no need to rush into a hasty and potentially clumsy response, it’s recommended you strive to deal with the complaint within 48 hours. This timeframe shows your engaged, dedicated to customer service and eager to make amends. Solving the problem quickly gives potential customers the confidence that you’re a person they should do business with.

Get Personal

Steer clear of delivering stock responses to negative reviews. It’s patronizing and impersonal. Keep it simple and authentic and it’s tough to go wrong. Customers come in different shapes and sizes but they all will appreciate the personal touch.

Be Sincere with Apologies

It doesn’t cost you anything to apologize with the customer and be empathetic toward their position. Use private forums like a direct message or email to establish the facts of what happened. Even if you ultimately find out there was no fault on your business side, the fact you apologized publicly shows you took the complaint seriously and did your best to make it right.

Put Things Right

After performing due diligence, do your best to put things right. Simply put, it’s going to cost you a lot less trying to win that customer back than find a completely new one to replace them. Offer to replace or revisit the product/service they found unsatisfactory. If that’s not enough, offer to refund the money they spent. The truth is, not every customer can be won back, some people are just difficult. Making peace with this can be tough but it’s the reality of the situation. At least you’ll have tried!

Conduct an Internal Review

The negative review process offers a chance for you to look at your internet systems and assess how you can do things better. Ask the affected customer how you could improve the product/service in question. Try to ensure the mistake can’t be repeated. Involving your customers in shaping your future path is a powerful method to build loyalty and repeat business.


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