Best Practices for Responding to Negative Reviews

Negative reviews are an inevitable part of running a business. While they can be disheartening, they also provide an invaluable opportunity to showcase your commitment to customer satisfaction and continuous improvement. Here, we’ll explore the best practices for responding to negative reviews and highlight how Opiniion can help streamline this process, turning potential setbacks into … Read more

How to Deal With Negative Online Reviews

No matter how stellar your business, it is impossible to make all of the people happy all of the time. Part of doing business is accepting that, sometimes, you will have unsatisfied customers. Some of them will leave negative reviews and not all of them will do so politely.

So what should you do if a customer leaves an angry and possible unfair review? First and foremost, don’t panic. Even a few bad reviews will not tank your reputation. On the contrary, if you handle the situation correctly, you can leverage bad reviews to your benefit. 

Although no one enjoys receiving negative feedback, it is important to know that a harsh review is not the end of the world. Understanding how to handle bad reviews can help you improve your business and your relationship with your customers.

Understanding Negative Reviews

Bad reviews can come in different forms and arise from various causes. Figuring out what made a customer unhappy can give you the key to handling the situation correctly.

When you receive feedback from an unhappy customer, you can benefit from figuring out where it stems from. Sometimes, it really isn’t you – it’s them. Some people leave bad reviews because a difficult day led them to see inconvenience where there wasn’t any. Some people just enjoy complaining. But, in most cases, you can learn from bad reviews even when they may not be completely justified.

In many cases, customers leave a negative review because they had certain expectations of your business and feel you did not meet them. Perhaps they are upset because your restaurant had no high chairs or the garment they ordered did not fit. Other times, customers may complain about issues such as delivery or packaging. Some may be disappointed with the quality of customer service they encountered.

Another issue to think about is what the customer hopes to get out of leaving that review. Some may be just looking to vent their feelings. Others have a specific problem they want addressed; examples may include slow shipping, poor quality or unhelpful customer service. There is also a type of customer that complains hoping to get a price reduction or some other incentive.

How Negative Reviews Can Help Your Business

First and foremost, reviews from unhappy customers can help you identify ways to improve how you run your business. Even people who express their opinion with undue harshness can be making a valid point underneath the anger. 

Improving Your Company

Consider whether you could realistically make changes to decrease this mismatch between expectations and reality. Is your restaurant actually geared towards families with children? If so, you may want to invest in some high chairs or order additional ones. If not, do your marketing materials convey your brand accurately? Using a negative review as a learning opportunity gives you the chance to create more satisfied customers in the future.

Reviews can also tell you whether you may need to give customers additional information. For example, if you see reviews complaining about inaccurate sizing, consider including measurements as well as sizes. If you do provide relevant information such as shipping times, does your site display it prominently enough for shoppers to notice? Letting customers know what to expect can help them avoid getting unrealistic expectations. 

Feedback on your company’s customer service can also help you assess whether you need to make changes to your procedures or provide additional training. Check whether you have any rules in place that get in your staff’s way when they try to solve customers’ problems. 

Increasing Customer Trust

Even baseless reviews with no helpful content whatsoever can benefit your company. Many of today’s customers have heard of companies that purchase positive reviews or delete negative ones. When people see negative reviews sprinkled among the positive ones, they are more likely to believe the good feedback is genuine. 

Finally, negative reviews can still serve as a springboard for generating publicity. In most cases, there is indeed no such thing as bad publicity. The surrounding buzz can give you the opportunity to generate conversation about your company and steer it your way. 

Some companies have seen success by using a humorous, brand-consistent approach to handling the publicity. Use your own judgment when deciding how to deal with controversy. Whatever path you take, make sure it does not make you look angry or dishonest. 

Your takeaway here is that even the worst review can ultimately be good for your company if you approach it the right way. For this reason, avoid the temptation to delete negative feedback. 

Responding: Do’s and Don’ts

Now that you have left up to the negative reviews, how do you address them? While not all reviews need a response, responding can be a good tactic in some cases. An effective response may not only change the reviewing customer’s attitude but also showcase your professionalism to others browsing the site. Knowing what types of interactions cast a favorable light on your company can help you take the right course of action.


  • Respond in a professional manner consistent with your brand voice. This can mean being formal or using humor, so long as your tone is appropriate for your company’s image. 
  • Remain courteous and avoid personal attacks.
  • Acknowledge the customer’s issue. If appropriate, let them know you will have a representative get in touch to work out the details. You can also answer their question or clear up misunderstandings if you can do so briefly. Sometimes, you may want to email the customer in order to expand on your brief public reply.
  • Make a good-faith effort to effectively address legitimate issues the review points out. 


  • Respond to angry or profane reviews in kind. Keeping it professional is an easy way to show future readers the complaint in question is likely baseless and stems from anger. Using invective or personal insults, even if you are in the right, makes people think there was a good reason for the negative review. On the other hand, calm response to a review containing name-calling or cursing will highlight the reviewer’s irrationality and make you look better in comparison.
  • Become overly defensive. This can be a natural reaction, especially if you believe the review is not very truthful or fair. However, over-explaining will likely not convince the angry customer, while other readers may remain unimpressed. 
  • Make unrealistic or over-the-top promises to make everything perfect for the customer. Sometimes, the thing they complain about is not a problem you need to fix. Sometimes, a courteous apology for the customer’s disappointment is all you can realistically provide.
  • Ask a customer to remove or edit a bad review. To others, such a request will always appear as though you are trying to silence people and possibly hiding real problems with your business. This perception can lead people to mistrust even the many positive reviews they see.

Effective Ways to Handle Negative Reviews

The best way to offset the potential fallout of negative reviews is to have the majority of reviews be positive. Part of this is ensuring your customers have a truly positive experience with your company. However, this is not enough. You also want these happy customers to leave a good review. There are some steps you can take to increase the likelihood of positive feedback.

Help Customers Give Feedback

Make it easy for customers to leave reviews. This can mean providing a platform with review forms that are simple to fill out and submit. Select a high-quality interface that works well with various types of browsers and older operating systems. Asking specific questions and having customers click boxes to answer can work better than asking people to write something. Asking customers to rate specific aspects of their interactions can go a long way to producing reviews that help both your company and other shoppers.

Use a Mobile-Friendly System

Keep in mind many customers are doing their shopping and reviewing on mobile platforms. A mobile-friendly system that makes it easy to leave a quick review is another way to maximize your positive feedback numbers.

Offer Incentives

Writing a review takes time and effort, no matter how much you streamline the process. Customers are more likely to take action if you make it worth their while. Offering a small promotion or other incentives can give that extra boost of encouragement that will lead a customer to submit feedback. Be clear that the incentive you offer in no way depends on the content of the feedback.

Ask for Reviews

People are more likely to provide feedback and have strong opinions on more expensive items. Because they pay more, they also have higher expectations. Ask customers to review the higher-priced items from their shopping carts. 

Doing some research on what wording is more likely to elicit a review can help you increase your numbers. The best way to title and word your email can depend a lot on the type of business you run and the kind of product your customer purchased.

Optimize Your System

Using an effective system for soliciting and displaying feedback can help you increase the number of positive reviews. Opiniion presents you with up-to-date technology for gathering, displaying and interacting with customer reviews. The easy automated and customizable system makes it easy for customers to leave feedback and for you to gather actionable analytics. 

With our help, you can easily use top techniques to handle negative reviews effectively. Our system helps you easily gather positive feedback as well as communicate with unhappy customers to solve their problems. Visit our site or call us at 855-330-9980 to find out more about how we can help you grow your business and build a solid relationship with your customer base.