How to Reply to Negative Reviews

Jed Smith Profile image

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Updated October 27, 2022

Countless studies and surveys have shown that a negative review can drive away potential customers more than almost any other factor, but how a business responds to consumers who’ve had negative experiences can be just as impactful. Knowing how to reply to negative reviews can do a lot to make up for the damage they can do to your business.


  • A single negative review can have up to 12 times the impact on a business that a single positive review can
  • Avoid generic openers to responses such as “Dear customer” and address the consumer by name with the correct salutation
  • Start with an apology and sympathize with your customer while also taking responsibility

Some easy-to-follow guidelines and tips can help encourage repeat business, even after a customer has had a bad experience, and can show new customers that you’re responsive to your customer’s needs.

Responding to Negative Reviews

A single negative review has been shown to have a much larger impact on business than multiple positive reviews- one recent study concluded that it can take as many as 12 positive reviews to make up for the damage that one negative review can do to business.

However, how a business responds to bad reviews can be a key factor in reducing and sometimes even reversing their effect- both ensuring repeat business and attracting new customers by showing a sincere commitment to listening to customers and improving based on customer feedback. Dealing with fake reviews comes with some basic guidelines any business can use.

Here are the most important concepts and approaches a business needs to learn when it comes to online engagement with bad reviews and making an unhappy customer feel heard.

Personal and Direct Engagement

The last thing an upset customer who has just left a bad online review wants to see is a boilerplate, copy-and-paste, or robotic-seeming response after having a negative experience. Using correct salutations (Mr/Ms/etc) and avoiding generic “Dear customer” or “Dear guest” intros will create a good first impression, and further personalizing your response based on their described experience will make them feel heard by an actual person.

Thank Your Customer and Apologize

In addition to a personalized tone and approach, showing gratitude to your customer- whether dealing with a positive review or negative review- is essential in making customers feel important to your business. “Thank you for your feedback, very sorry to hear about your negative experience,” this is a good example of how to open your response by addressing their emotional needs first before addressing the specific issue.

Sympathize and Acknowledge Responsibility

Showing that you can relate to and understand a customer’s frustration while simultaneously taking responsibility for their issue is crucial to any response to negative feedback. Not only does it make your response feel more personal and human, but it establishes a business’s ability to receive criticism and react appropriately and proactively to it.

Respond Quickly

To maximize its effectiveness, a response to either a positive or negative feedback and reviews needs to be done quickly. If a customer is frustrated enough to leave a review, waiting a week for a response increases the likelihood that they’ll simply want to move on and not give you repeat business. Responding quickly but sincerely and concisely makes the customer feel like they have a real relationship- and an important one- with your business, as they should. Apparently, giving quick feedback is also one of the best ways to respond to positive reviews.


Why should businesses respond to negative reviews?

Studies have shown that negative reviews can have a huge impact on business, but also that sincere, personal, and fast responses can do a lot to make up for their harm.

Why do people leave negative customer reviews?

Consumers have reported that the primary reasons they would leave a negative review are to relieve their frustration, to seek a resolution to an issue, and unfortunately, to “get back” at a company for giving them a bad experience.

Can businesses respond to Google Reviews?

Yes, businesses can respond to Google Reviews, generally using a Google My Business account.

STAT: Many surveys show that more than 9 out of 10 consumers will avoid a business because of a negative review, far more than because of a positive review. (source)

STAT: More than half of consumers questioned say they expect a response to a negative review within a week (source)

STAT: Studies show that 3/4 of all online reviews are found on either Google or Facebook (source)

Christen da Costa Profile image