How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Getting negative feedback is never pleasant — we're here to share the best way to respond.

Part of being a small business owner is getting feedback from your clients - both positive and negative. While negative reviews can feel discouraging, they are ultimately an opportunity to further connect with clients and show others you're open to feedback. We're here to share a simple recipe for replying to these reviews in respectful, meaningful ways.

*Financial Advisors, be advised that responding to reviews may carry some risk. View the new SEC Marketing Rules here

How to respond to a negative review

1. Be patient

Getting negative feedback is hardly pleasant, so when we first see it, our initial response may be frustration or confusion. It’s natural to have the impulse to respond immediately, however, we recommend waiting a bit to avoid emotions taking over and your response coming across as defensive. So when a negative review comes in, read it and come back to it a few hours later, allowing you to still address the review in a timely manner but not risking an overly emotional response.

While we know this is easier said than done, try not to take the negative review personally. It’s tough when your business is very client-centric and you genuinely care about their experience to not feel passionately about the reviews people leave. However, responses must come through level-headed and professional.

In fact, 88% of people surveyed said they would look past negative reviews if they were answered adequately.

2. Empathize

It’s important to tailor your response to the reviewer so they feel heard. Open the response with a greeting using their name. You can then go on to thank them for their feedback.

You have a little more freedom with what you want to say next, but here are some great examples of empathetic responses:

  • “Hi Sam, thank you for taking the time to give us feedback. Our top priority is making sure our clients are fully satisfied with their experience, so we can understand how the lack of communication was frustrating. Please call our manager, Owen, at 900-900-9009 so we can chat further.”
  • “Hi Emma, we appreciate your honest feedback. We never want any of our customers to feel like they were disrespected by any of our staff, no matter the circumstance. We apologize for this experience, and would appreciate it if you would email us at to share a little more. We look forward to making this right.”

It’s okay to personalize the tone of your responses (formal or informal), as long as you remain consistent.

3. Take it offline

As you noticed in the examples above, there was a call-to-action to discuss the feedback further. While it’s not always necessary, and can vary based on the type of negative feedback, it doesn’t hurt to provide the means. 

And most importantly, take the feedback seriously. If the reviewer does take advantage of the opportunity to discuss the issue further, genuinely listen and accommodate the best you can. You never know, they might even update their review.

What about fake reviews or mistakes?

Think you spotted a fake review? Perhaps it’s a hostile former employee or just a typical internet troll. If it’s on Google, the first thing you should do is flag the review. You can also report a review on Yelp. Unfortunately, this does not guarantee the review being taken down. 

If the review you believe to be fake isn’t taken down, you can choose to respond to it like you would any other negative review, or you can present facts. For example:

  • “Hi Robert, thank you for the feedback. We can’t find any records of you doing business with us. Please contact us at 909-900-9009 so we can investigate this further.

Sometimes, there might have been some misinformation or miscommunication. Here’s a great real example of answering with facts:

Gauging client happiness to mitigate negative reviews

Levitate’s Survey Feature gives you a chance to get an overall pulse on client happiness. It’s a simple and effective way to give your clients a chance to leave feedback before they go to Google/Yelp/Facebook, therefore decreasing the chances of getting a negative review in the first place. And because Google Reviews are becoming increasingly important for businesses, you can use the very same feature to increase your 5-star reviews!

Interested in how Levitate can help you keep your clients satisfied? Schedule a demo to learn more.

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