Responding to Negative Reviews- How Should You Do It?

by Valentine Belonwu · 6 comments

Most times, you don’t know if you are doing a good job with the project at hand unless someone tells you. The same goes if the result was a bad one- in this case, you get a negative review and sometimes it can be extreme. As a business, your customers determine whether you make sales or you go bankrupt. Therefore, what they think about your business and its products or services matters a lot. Regardless of the kind of business you run, your customers’ opinions come first.

When you are congratulated for a job well done, you feel elated and swell with pride. This happens to everyone and it’s good to receive such praises once in a while. But what happens when you are negatively criticized? Mixed emotions set in and most of us respond emotionally, not logically. The result- we lose customers and realize our faults too late.

Responding to negative reviews is a very sensitive action that should be handled with caution. Why? Well, one important thing to note here is that you don’t respond to all negative reviews. In other words, you need to know when to respond to such reviews so as to retain your growing customer base.

When Should You Respond To Negative Reviews?

One thing you should start doing, if you are not already, is to encourage your customers to make reviews about your business. This will definitely increase your business-to-customer interaction. This will in turn lead to a better relationship, thus increasing sales. But what happens when a customer thinks otherwise about your business? Well, you will have no choice but to manage such reviews. This is because bad news spreads fast and you don’t what to be the subject, do you?

Not every bad review needs a response. Responding to every one might make you appear and sound defensive. This will only make your unsatisfied customers attack you more. You need to know the difference between reviews that need your response and those that don’t. This should help you make that decision.

How Should You Respond To Negative Reviews?

After knowing the kind of negative reviews you should respond to, the next step is to know how to do it. Don’t miss it here because if you do, you could send your customers packing. Below are a few tips on how you should respond.

1.      Do Not Erase The Comment

Erasing negative comments is usually a big decision to make. But that should be the last thing you should do, especially if the comment is online. Allowing your customers voice out their negative opinions about your business is a good thing. When you delete such comments, you indirectly tell them that you don’t care about their opinion. This will just make them angrier. The only time you are allowed to delete bad comments is if they are verbally insulting. Such profane words can offend your other customers or fans. Therefore, it is in your own interest to delete them. If this is not the case, then don’t.

2.      Carefully Read The Review

You should note that negative comments are aimed at improving and developing your business and not to ridicule you. Therefore, read such reviews objectively, not emotionally. Negative reviews are usually targeted at specific areas in your business. Ensure you read carefully so you can pinpoint those areas.

3.      Accept Responsibility and Respond

Sometimes, bad reviews are not surprises to us. This is because deep down, we know we did a half baked job that shouldn’t receive much praise. When carrying out projects, there are specific areas we do well on and there are areas we know we could have done better. Therefore, getting bad reviews in such areas should not come as a shocker but as a confirmation that we need to improve.

In your response, be completely honest. Apologize to your customer and show them that you also strive to get better. Don’t point fingers but accept all the blame. You’ll be better off for it.

4.      Respond Privately

Some bad reviews can’t be quenched with only one response. You’ll need multiple responses to get the customer in good terms with you. Such a conversation should not be done publicly. If you received the negative review on social media, you have the option of taking it private, like via email. This will reduce the number of prying eyes that want to see the outcome.

5.      Forget Your Qualification

Don’t speak like a sales man or an MBA graduate. Come down to your customers’ level and speak like a normal person. Using unnecessary business grammar would only infuriate them more. Speak to them in a language they will understand and simply explain yourself.

6.      Respond Fast

Social media is in real time and your response must be in real time too. Even if your business is offline, respond as soon as you get the negative review. What happens when you have a large customer base and the bad reviews are in the hundreds? Well, this is where having a good customer service comes in. Just ensure that they respond in the manner and speed that you desire.

7.      Seek Their Suggestion

Sometimes, customers that have bad reviews also have the solution. Seek their opinion on what you can do so as not to repeat the occurrence. You’ll be surprised at the suggestions you receive.

Never take a negative review for granted. In business, when you lose one customer, it is equal to losing ten. If you realize that a review is worth your response, go ahead and respond. It will definitely show that customer and others that you care about what they think.



{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris @ NPI June 6, 2012 at 10:00 am

Hi Valentine, thanks for sharing these tips!
I can only mention, that responding to negative reviews or comments may be very stressful, especially when the comment or review is untrue. Of course you may try to straighten it out, but exposure to social media makes it really hard and uncomfortable for you.
BR, Chris
Chris @ NPI recently posted..10 Lessons Learned from First Month of BloggingMy Profile


Valentine Belonwu June 7, 2012 at 11:05 am

Hi Chris,
Thank you for stopping by 🙂 I know responding to untrue review from customer’s might be stressful but there is a way you can do that either you contact them personally via their email and iron things with them and you have to correct whatever mistakes that might occurred in the future.

Thanks for your comment.


Sajith June 7, 2012 at 8:12 am

Wow, the suggestions you made are really helpful to manage negative feed backs. Especially we should not delete any of the negative comments. Instead we should respond to those. I strongly agree with it.

Great post.
Sajith recently posted..How advertisements (ads) harm and destroy your BlogMy Profile


Cendrine Marrouat June 15, 2012 at 5:37 am

Good article, Valentine! I think negative reviews are part of life. Those who can’t handle them will always have a hard time understanding their importance!
Cendrine Marrouat recently posted..Social media news: Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTubeMy Profile


Syed Shah June 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Hi Valentine, We’ve just finished working with a restaurant that had been receiving poor reviews after advertising on a FREE global directory. Even though it looked as if it was a rival company placing the comments, we still needed to help them react as if this was a paying customer. As an advertising platform for local businesses, our advise to be pro-active before you have to be reactive. Think about the type of business you are and where you are advertsing your business. Most competitive markets will have aggressive competition, so having control over your business reviews is vital.

We don’t deter customers from advertising on FREE portals but we do advise about the loss of control businesses have with these portal.


Scott June 21, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I got my first unsubscribe the other day with a negative comment from an email I sent to my list about now the link not letting them directly out of the website link…that was trying to get the person to reconsider leaving the page. That really hurt. I always try to offer the best to my clients.

I appreciate the advice here very much!



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