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How to Respond to Negative Reviews [And Turn Tides In Your Favor]

The other day, our team was discussing the best shows ever made. We all unanimously voted for Breaking Bad. And why not? It has an IMDB rating of 9.5 for crying out loud. On Google, it is rated 4.9 with 14361 ratings. Yet, some people have given it a lower rating.

“I would rather eat my toes than watch this again,” wrote a viewer. You bet, we were equally shocked.

Moral of the story – not everyone is easy to please.

Second moral of the story – online reviews are gaining traction.

In a 2016 report from Pew Research Center, 82 percent of American adults said that they sometimes or always read online reviews when making new purchases. Over two-thirds of the regular review readers also believed these to be “generally accurate.”

We have additional data to prove the importance of reviews – both negative and positive.

  • 93% of customers will read reviews of local businesses to determine its quality.
  • Reviews account for about 15% of the method Google uses to rank local businesses.
  • 67% of B2B buyers want to see a mix of both positive and negative reviews when checking out a business.
  • Seven out of 10 consumers changed their opinion about a brand after the company replied to a review.
  • 82% of customers actively seek out negative reviews.

While there are more positive reviews than negative, why do people focus on the latter?

The answer is simple. Five-star reviews can easily be faked …and force people to look at reviews with fewer stars to get a more genuine response.

The bad news – even one negative review can impact your business for the worse and drive potential customers away. It can undo all the benefits you received from your positive reviews.

The good news – a Harvard Business Review study found that ratings increased when businesses responded to customer reviews.

This is why, apart from setting a goal to get more positive reviews, you need to know how to respond to negative reviews.

Here’s the secret sauce to help you get it right every single time.

  1. Think Of The People Who Will Read ItThe negative reviews are often out there to be read by your potential customers. They will scrutinize each line and you will never know which line or word will influence their buying decision.

    Reply in such a way that all the readers form the opinion that your firm or business is dedicated to serving customers in the best manner. Their satisfaction is your prime focus. Show that you are committed to improving their experience.

    Pro tip: Before responding publicly, respond to your customers privately over an email or a call, or invite them to solve the matter in person. This increases the chance of them changing their review and rating.

    How to Respond to Negative Reviews on Social Media

  2. Constantly Monitor Your ReviewsThinking of how to respond to negative reviews on Google? Do you struggle with responding to all of your negative reviews on other platforms as well? This is where Online Reputation Management tools (ORM tools) can help you.

    You can use them to monitor various online platforms and respond to negative reviews quickly. This is important because customers whose complaints get handled in less than 5 minutes are likely to make a future purchase from your business. If you don’t say anything or wait too long to respond, this will only annoy your customers and get them to turn away from you forever. A timely response means you care for your customers. Period.

    How to Respond to Negative Reviews on Social Media

  3. Keep Calm and Handle ItRegardless of the outcome, always acknowledge the problem at hand. Without this, the customer may feel like their concerns are not being recognized which can escalate the situation. The rule of the thumb is to stay positive.

    Start by thanking them for bringing this issue to your attention and proceed to offer them a resolution with a sincere apology. Anyone who sees the complaint will take into account how positively you handled the situation which will go a long way to improving your company’s online reputation.

    Pro Tip: Make sure you have a game plan ready before responding. Keep a database of positive responses on hand for anyone to respond with on behalf of your team.

    How to Respond to Negative Reviews on Social Media

  4. Be Genuine to a FaultThe first step to addressing a negative review is to understand your customers’ point of view by putting yourself in their shoes. Ask them the details of what went wrong and what steps you can take to avoid a similar situation in the future.

    Even if the matter is trivial or it is just a misunderstanding, showing customers that you genuinely care, will help your cause in winning their confidence. Be empathetic, and find out what bothered them with clear and succinct communication. And most importantly, be professional, helpful and objective.

    Pro Tip: You can also sign the reply with a name to show customers that they are talking to a real person from your company.

    How to Respond to Negative Reviews on Social Media

  5. Offer A SolutionThis has already been covered in previous points but we are mentioning it again because it’s very important. Offering customers an immediate remedy or quick solution can improve their happiness in no time at all and can help end the review thread on a positive note from the customer.

    There are many ways to offer a solution based on the situation at hand. If they are unhappy with a specific person from your business, let them know you will look into the matter. If they had an issue with your product, offer them a refund or a discount on their next purchase. If they received poor customer service, offer them a sincere apology with a gift card. At the end of the day, winning back a disgruntled customer is worth more than a few dollars in the long run!

    How to Respond to Negative Reviews on Social Media

The Wrap

Trying to pretend that a negative review does not exist will do nothing but make a bad situation worse. By making sure you respond to them personally in a timely manner, there is a good chance you can save yourself from losing a valuable customer while displaying your outstanding customer service. Show people that you are a business who cares.


  • Negative reviews are not always bad for your business.
  • Responding to each negative review is important
  • Keep a list of responses handy
  • Be prompt, professional, and positive while responding.
  • Show that you are authentic


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