Knowing how to respond to negative reviews is a skill every business owner and customer service manager must learn.
Failing to address bad reviews with the proper etiquette can create a negative sentiment about your brand and hurt your ability to create a healthy business.
In this article, we’ll go over some best practices for how to respond to negative feedback. We’ll also go over seven negative review response examples and templates you can start using today.
But first, let’s talk about how people usually react to negative reviews and why it’s not the right way to go about it.
When it comes to receiving negative feedback, the most common reaction is to be defensive or in denial. This can show up in many ways, like dismissing the feedback as irrelevant, becoming argumentative, or even becoming aggressive towards the person or customer leaving the feedback.
This reaction is very common because it can be a natural human response. Negative feedback is difficult to hear and accept. And if you’re not careful, it’s easy to take it as an attack on your own inadequacies. So it’s natural to want to protect yourself and your brand from any sort of public criticism.
However, this type of reaction to negative criticism can be detrimental to your brand. It can create animosity and lead to further negative feedback in the future.
A better response to negative feedback is to approach it with a receptive and open attitude. Instead of being defensive, try to understand where a customer is coming from and what specific issues are being raised.
When responding to bad reviews or criticism, it’s important to respond professionally and with empathy. The first thing you should do is acknowledge the issue and thank the customer for taking time out of their day to bring light to the situation.
Responding with acknowledgment shows that you’re willing to listen and consider a customer's perspective. This can help defuse the situation and create a productive dialogue. If this response is public, it can also show others that you’re a human-centric brand and one that genuinely cares about providing a great customer experience.
When faced with negative feedback, you should ask yourself, “what can I learn from this to improve my products or operations?” Negative customer feedback is often a sign that something can be improved, so use it as an opportunity to learn what needs to be done to create happy customers in the future.
With that in mind, let’s go over some best practices for responding to negative reviews, and then we’ll get into some response templates you can use.
Before you start responding to negative reviews, it’s important to have proper etiquette.
Here are a few best practices for responding to negative reviews:
With 1-day shipping options and access to any kind of information at our fingertips, our minds are being trained to want things quickly.
This is why it’s so important to respond to customers as soon as possible. It shows unhappy customers that your brand genuinely cares and is willing to help at any point in time. It creates trust and brand loyalty.
When you get a negative review, be it on social media, a review site, or privately through email, aim to respond within 24 hours of receiving the complaint — the sooner, the better.
Not only can this help prevent further negative reviews (if done publicly), but it can also build customer loyalty as it will show that you’re proactively working to address any issues that come your way.
Acknowledging a negative response shows that you’re a brand that actively listens to its customers. By actively listening, you’re creating an online reputation of being a brand that creates productive dialogue for customers who may not have had a positive experience.
Believe it or not, this can actually help improve sales if potential customers are looking at reviews before they make a purchasing decision.
It shows that your brand is backed by real humans, and it increases the legitimacy of your company. It also shows potential customers that you have high standards for your overall customer experience.
One of the best things you can do to leave a positive impression after someone has a bad experience with your brand is to follow up with them and make sure that they are satisfied with whatever resolution you two come up with.
For example, if someone leaves a negative online review, you should respond publicly and come to a resolution. But then, depending on the severity of the situation, it may be a good idea to also actively reach out privately.
You could reach out with an apology and offer a discount on your future products and services. This could help maintain a positive relationship between you and your customers, and they may even go back to the negative review and write an update about how impressed they are with your great customer service.
When responding to negative customer reviews online, it is important to pay attention to reputation management. This is especially important when responding to people on public platforms like Google reviews or Yelp reviews.
You want to make sure you don’t respond to reviews with a negative sentiment because those who read your reviews will create a negative opinion about your brand voice.
If someone leaves a nasty review about your brand, it may be a good idea to give your contact information and ask them to email you so you can take the conversation offline.
Do your best to respond in a professional manner publicly, but try to also address the situation privately or via a direct message so you can make sure your customer leaves with a somewhat positive emotion about your brand.
Here are seven negative review response templates:
Okay, let’s get into each one.
If you’re an ecommerce business, questions about shipping delays can often be one of the highest volumes of negative feedback you receive.
Here’s an example of how you can respond to a customer and let them know that their item has been shipped:
Hi [Customer Name],
Thank you for being patient. Good news: Your [product name] is out for shipping and is expected to arrive at your door by [date].
We apologize again for the delay and appreciate your patience on this one. Our team is also learning from this experience to ensure you'll have a better shopping experience with us next time.
We can’t wait for you to receive [product name] and [product benefit].
If you want to find more templates around shipping delays, be sure to check out our other blog post on this topic.
Sometimes, if you don’t respond to people in a timely manner or you don’t address customer concerns in a professional way, customers may leave a review claiming that your customer service is non-existent.
The cost of poor customer service can be high as it can hurt retention and your ability to create repeat customers. It shows that you may be under-investing in your customer service operations and it may be time to hire more customer service reps or outsource your customer service.
If you get a negative review about having poor service, you can respond with:
Hi [Customer Name],
I’m [your name], and I’m the [role] at [company name.] I’m very sorry that [issue summary] happened.
Our customers mean a lot to us, and we'd like to resolve this for you ASAP. Can you shoot me an email at [email] to continue the conversation? I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you, [Your Name]
If you want more responses regarding negative feedback around your service, be sure to download our free templates.
Getting a negative review for not having a product in stock is actually a good issue to have. It shows that people genuinely care about receiving your products and services.
But getting this type of review can signal that there may be some inefficiencies in how you manage product inventory. If you get a review about being out of stock, you can respond with:
Hi [Customer Name],
We see that you’ve ordered [product name], one of our most popular products. Unfortunately, [product name] has recently seen a high volume of orders and we’re completely sold out at the moment.
We are so sorry for the inconvenience. Our team is working tirelessly to restock and we promise to notify you immediately when the item is back in stock.
Typically, this takes around [days] but if you don’t want to wait that long, here are similar products we think you’ll love.
[Up to 3 Similar products]
Or if you want a refund instead, just let us know at [insert email address] and we’ll get that processed for you.
And due to the inconvenience, we’d like to offer you a discount on your next order - just use [code].
Apologies again and Thank you for your business, [Your Name]
Sometimes, customers can leave a vague review about how they weren’t satisfied with their overall experience.
If you’re not sure what to respond with right away and need to consult with some of your colleagues offline, you can respond with:
Dear [Customer Name],
We’re sorry to hear you didn’t have a good experience with our [product/customer service.]
I’ve relayed the issue to the appropriate department, and our team is working on a solution as I’m writing this email. You can expect an update from us within [x hours.]
We work really hard to make sure our customers love our products and service, so thank you for bringing this situation to light. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.
Best, [Your Name]
This type of response shows that you’re actively listening and trying to resolve the issue.
Sometimes, customers just want a refund or want to cancel their subscription. If you’ve done everything you could to address the situation and try to keep your customer, but they still want to leave, then you have to respect their decision.
In this case, you can respond with:
Dear [Customer Name],
I’m deeply sorry that our resolution to your issue did not meet your expectation and we weren’t able to demonstrate how much you mean to us.
As much as I hate to see you go, I understand that [problem summary] must’ve caused a lot of inconvenience on your end.
We’ll cancel your [subscription/order] with us and process a full refund. You can expect it to be credited to your account within [timeframe.]
I apologize again for all the trouble caused and wish you all the best. Please reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns.
Best, [Your Name]
Getting a public negative review about wanting a refund may only happen if a customer has reached out to you on multiple occasions with no success. In this case, you need to respond to customers who want a refund quickly and help them resolve the issue.
Here’s what you can say to customers who request a refund:
Hi [First Name],
This is [Insert your name] from [Insert company name] and we received your refund request for [insert product name]. I've gone ahead and approved the request for [insert refund amount] and you should be able to see this transaction in your account within 3 business days.
We offer a few alternatives to [service/product] that may be a better fit. If you're interested, please let me know, I'd be happy to share more options.
Thank you for your business.
Best regards, [Your Name]
Be sure to check out our other blog post on this topic — it includes over 9 email refund templates you can use if the one above isn’t exactly what you’re looking for.
Having a defective product or service can create a negative experience for a customer, making them not want to do business with you again or even recommend you to others. In fact, they may even go out and tell their friends and family not to buy your products because of their experience.
In this case, you can respond to customer complaints around defects with:
Dear [Customer Name],
We are sorry to hear that you were not satisfied with your purchase. We strive to provide the best quality products to our customers, and we apologize for any inconvenience that you may have experienced.
If you would like to return or exchange the product, please contact our customer service department and we would be happy to assist you.
Thank you for your time, and we hope that you will continue to shop with us in the future.
Best, [Your name]
Negative business reviews shouldn’t discourage you from continuing your business. However, they should be something you pay serious attention to.
If you’re a small business, your brand reputation is what can set you apart from larger companies. Every negative review should teach you something about what you can improve in your business.
Unfortunately, you may also find that there are fake reviews or people trying to damage your reputation. So it’s also important to be able to tell the difference between reviews that clearly are fake and those that provide good criticism.
You’ll find that as you focus on creating great customer experiences and follow up with customers who have a bad experience, you’ll start to attract positive reviews and new customers.
And if you’re struggling to handle all the conversations happening around your brand, be sure to look into ways to grow your support team. Bad customer support can seriously hurt your ability to create loyal customers.
So if lack of support help is something you’re experiencing, be sure to book a free demo with Chatdesk to see how we can help you create super-fans of your brand!