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How To Effectively  Handle Negative Online Reviews

How To Effectively Handle Negative Online Reviews (Sample Templates Given)

How To Handle Negative Online Reviews

Have you ever had to deal with a negative review? What was your response?

A negative review is something every business has to worry about one time or the other. I mean, we can’t be perfect all the time.

Even amid utter perfection, there will be one or two clients who felt you could have done better and might drop a negative review.

So whether you are running a small business on the last block down a street in Alaska or you are the CEO of a beauty brand smack down in the heart of New York, responding to negative reviews is a must.

This video shows how you can easily handle negative reviews.

Handling Negative Feedbacks


Is Responding to Negative Online Reviews Necessary?

Why am I being very so particular about this? Recently, I had a 3.4-star rating amidst 5-star ratings. Worse still, the client left a ‘not so great’ public comment and this discouraged me as I had worked really hard to build my profile.

My first response was that I wanted to chat him up and blast him or rant about how we had a long-term relationship, how I explained to him the reason I couldn’t get the job done, and so on.

Perhaps yours was a client that was unsatisfied with the particular shade of purple you used for her nails, or her nails broke 2 days after getting it fixed and the blamed was laid at your feet.

Well, in this article, I am going to be showing you how to handle and respond to negative reviews because whether you admit it or not, they have a lot of impact on your online presence.

Did you know that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations? This is why responding to negative reviews, not just the positive ones is really important.

Bad Reviews Are Not All That Bad!

It’s easy to give up and bemoan your fate when you receive bad reviews. It might be a hit to your confidence as a professional or a business owner.

Questions like: can I really do this? Begins to pop into your mind. But when you realize that a bad review is actually an opportunity to instill trust in your prospective clients, you will not be scared of one or two negative reviews

  • Negative reviews can be used to highlight the positive ones. 
  • When handled properly, negative reviews build trust in the brand. The truth is, many people tend to be wary of businesses with perfect 5-star ratings. They begin to suspect whether the reviews are fake. That’s probably why 68% of customers trust businesses with mixed reviews. By leaving it out there, they see that you are transparent and have nothing to hide.
  • Reading negative feedback help customers make informed decisions. Meaning, they will be able to compare the advantages and disadvantages of your product/service before paying for it. What this amounts to fewer refunds and even less negative reviews.
  • Provides room for improvement.
    So how should you as a business owner respond to negative reviews and make the situation favor you? Here’s how! 

7 Tips For Responding To Negative Online Reviews

Keep Calm and respond


  • Step away
           The instance you read that negative review, step away from the situation. The truth is that as a business owner, negative reviews are going to hurt. And you might be tempted to respond in like manner, with all the emotions you’re feeling right then.

    The point I am trying to make is that responding to negative reviews based on emotions is a no-no. So the first thing you must do is to Step Away from the situation. Get some objectivity, do not address it as a personal attack. If this is too difficult for you to do, I suggest you ask someone more objective, a friend or employee to do it for you.
  • Acknowledge and thank them

          After gaining control over your emotions, the next thing you should do is to acknowledge the client for leaving a review. Do not forget to say thank you. This shows that you think highly of your customers and value their opinion. You can say;
    “Dear (inserts name), thank you for letting us know about this” Or
    “Dear (name), thank you for your feedback…”
  • Apologize

          Saying I'm sorry seldom fails to diffuse a tense situation. It makes perfect sense that you should use it here. An apology should be included in your response whether or not the fault is yours. At this point, you have to put on your big girl’s panties and express how sorry you are for such an unsatisfactory service.

    However, you do not have to sucker up to every customer who leaves a negative review. When the fault is merely perceived or caused by unrealistic expectations, you can say;
    “We apologize that our product/service failed to meet your expectations” OR
    “I am sorry to hear that you were not completely satisfied with our services” 
  • Be Specific

          No one liked to be presented with some generic response. While you can have a format you use to respond to negative reviews, you should make it personalized to each person and their complaint. By doing that, you are satiating their ego.

    The CEO of the company apologized to me! That sure sounds nice. One way to do this is by mentioning the person's name at least once in your response. 
  • Provide a brief explanation

          Refer to the problem being put forward. You do not have to write a full defense but one or two sentences will be perfect. At this point, you might want to contrast the client’s negative experience with what your customers usually experience.

    “We’re usually known for our outstanding customer service and we regret that we didn’t live up to those expectations here.”

    Another trick is to highlight whatever compliment was paid in the review.

    For example;
    “Dear (name), thank you for leaving feedback. While I am glad to know that you loved the color of the nail polish, I am sorry to learn that it didn’t last as long as you expected…”
  • Compensation

          Offering compensation should only follow valid reviews. If you’ve never been trolled before, you are incredibly lucky. But when you realize that your service/product was not top-notch, you should try to compensate that client. Perhaps a free pedicure session to compensate for their fungal infection. Or 50% off coupon for a massage, etc

    Compensation could also come as a refund especially in cases where money-back guarantees are made. When this happens, you can ask the dissatisfied client to confirm that he/she has received the reimbursement. Depending on the situation, you might want to only hint at compensation without stating in public exactly what you would offer the dissatisfied reviewer.


    “… we would like to make up for our poor service to you. Do expect a detailed email from us within the next 2-5 working days” 
  • Take It Offline

          When responding to a negative review, you shouldn’t make every detail of the conversation public. You should take the discussion offline to avoid any complicated scenarios with obstinate clients, etc. This doesn’t mean the inability to handle a confrontation.

    On the contrary, it is a testament to your professionalism not to hash out every detail in public. One way you can do this is by leaving your contact information in your response.

    You can say:

    “we would love to know more details about your experience. You can reach us @ (email) or speak directly to someone by calling (customer care line). Please allow us to resolve this issue.
    Thank you” 

While Responding To Negative Reviews, Here Are 4 Tips You Should Not Forget!

Responding To Negative Online reviews


  • Less Is More:

          Keep it as brief as you can while passing the right message across. Do not ask follow up questions to prevent the reviewer from adding more details and negative comments to an already bad situation. 
  • No Traceable Marketing:

          Agreeably, you can use your response to negative reviews to highlight the excellent part of your business. You must be careful not to include keywords in your response or anything that will make that negative review pop up on search engines. 
  • Do Better:

          One good thing about honest negative reviews is that they show you where you need to prove as a business. Maybe you need to change the chairs in the reception area or offer your customers more colors of a product to choose from.

    Or perhaps you need to talk to your staff about politeness and customer care. There’s no better time than now! 
  • Respond On Time:

          There is no point waiting a week or month before responding to a negative review. Factually, the best time frame is within 3 days (link). When businesses respond to negative reviews quickly enough, the reviewer tends to go back and change the review or drop a good one.      

Templates You Can Use To Respond To Negative Online Reviews

There are several other templates you can use to draft a response to a negative review.

Depending on the situation. Sometimes a mere “Thank you for your feedback. We are sorry to hear that you were not satisfied with our service. Please contact (email) so we can fully assess and address the situation” will suffice.

Other times you may need a more detailed one like: 

Hello (name),

On reading your feedback, we understand your disappointment and we are deeply sorry that you had such an experience.

Our company prides itself on 100% customer satisfaction and we would like to resolve this issue as soon as possible.

We ask that you allow us to make this right.
Please give us a call at (phone no) so we can discuss this further.

Thank you for your support.
Yours Sincerely,


Dear (insert name)
Thank you for leaving your feedback. We sincerely apologize that you weren’t satisfied with our product (e.g our DIY nail kit).
We pride ourselves in caring for the total well-being of our clients and it is quite a surprise that (e.g. the package was not sealed).

As you said, this is unacceptable and we would love a chance to set things right. You can reach out to me directly via mail at *** or call ***-***-***.

Please bear with us.
Yours Sincerely,
(insert position).

In A Nutshell, Here Is What To Do When You Receive A Negative Review:

  • Step away
  • Acknowledge your fault and thank the reviewer
  • Apologize
  • Give a brief explanation when necessary
  • Offer compensation
  • Take it offline

By doing this, you will find out that you are not only diffusing a tense situation, but you are also re-establishing trust in the reviewer and other prospective clients.
Remember, if everyone has only perfect things to say about you, you are probably doing something wrong.

And if nobody has anything good to say about you, you are most certainly doing something wrong. So take advantage of every bad review and try to turn it around for the growth of your brand.

If you think you are getting too many negative reviews, you can check for fake reviews and trolls. This violates the policies of several review sites so you can ask for those reviews to be taken off the site.

Finally, there is always room for improvement in your service to your customers.  

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