Let’s be honest (especially in regards to learning how to respond to a negative review). Nobody likes to get a negative review. But what if I told you that getting a negative review – as long as it doesn’t happen very often – can actually be a good thing? When online searchers only see five-star reviews, they will often think that it’s too good to be true. Businesses with a small number of negative reviews sprinkled in with their good reviews seem more authentic. Now, I’m not saying you should seek out bad reviews, but you should know that when you get one it’s not the end of the world.

The key with negative reviews is the response. If you do it right, you can turn an unhappy customer into a happy one with a few clicks on your keyboard and a thoughtful solution.

Keep these things in mind as you're crafting a response to a negative review:

1. Stay Calm

The worst thing you can do is respond to a negative review when you’re mad. That’s why we strongly recommend assigning someone to respond who has a little distance from the situation, like a social media maanger or supervisor. The last thing you want to do when responding to a negative review is sound defensive, even if you think the customer is in the wrong. Making excuses or trying to justify the situation will only make things worse. Consider it customer feedback even though you may have a different opinion when you first see it.

2. Start with an apology. It’s amazing how far the simple words, “I’m sorry” will go toward repairing a relationship with an unhappy customer that left you a negative review. Consumers understand that no business is perfect and sometimes mistakes happen. The problem comes when businesses aren’t willing to acknowledge those mistakes.

It’s amazing how often customers are willing to update and amend bad reviews when the business apologizes publicly. Swallowing your pride can be tough for a lot of us, but doing so will help you build stronger customer relationships and ultimately help you attract new customers through the quality and thoughtfulness contained in your online presence.

3. Offer a Solution

It’s one thing to apologize, but if you haven’t put some thought into how you’re going to solve the customer’s problem, then those words will ring hollow. Put some time and thought into what you can do to make the situation better in the eyes of the customer.

4. Take things offline if the review is a rant or false.

Having a conversation by responding back and forth on online reviews isn’t the most efficient way to solve customer complaints. That’s why after you’ve apologized and offered a solution, we suggest you take the conversation offline. Solving problems is much easier to do via chat, text, or on the phone.

5. You can't please everyone.

Even if you follow all of the steps outlined above, you still won’t be able to make everyone happy. In those situations, you need to move on. You don’t have to bend over backwards if the customer is being unreasonable. Future customers will understand, especially if most of your reviews are positive.

While we don't recommend a cookie cutter response (Every situation should be treated according to the circumstances) you can consider our general purpose response below to responding to a negative review.

*Dear [NAME OF REVIEWER], thanks for sharing your feedback. We’re sorry your experience didn’t match your expectations.

Please feel free reach out to [INSERT CONTACT INFORMATION] with any further comments, concerns, or suggestions you wish to share. We would love to make things right if you give us another chance.*

Remember, the question isn't IF you'll get a negative review, but rather WHEN you will get a negative review.

You need to be prepared and have a game plan in advance!