How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Jessica Brannen / September 7, 2016

When someone posts a poor review, you must respond. So, follow these steps toward better responding.


Prepare your mind: 

First, calm yourself. If you’re emotions are high, if you feel angry, if you want to tell that customer “you’re wrong!” you need to relax before you review. We recommend using for 5-10 minutes. You’ll find the words flowing from your heart and not your sword.

Genuinely understand the review:

Even though your mind is prepared, you’re still not ready to write. Before putting pen to paper, understand the review. What is the reviewer really talking about? Does it sound like something you or your employees would do? Only after you truly understand the review can you write.

Establish your tone:

Always begin with an empathetic statement, such as, “I understand…,” “Yes, your review makes sense,” “Thank you for these suggestions.” You don’t want to sound rude or condescending. By showing empathy, you “share” the concern of the reviewer. “Yes, I see your perspective…” sounds better than, “This customer was rude in my store…”

Keep your response simple:

The shorter your response, the better. Reiterate your reviewer’s concern in as few words as possible. Then, craft your response.

Offer changes, not excuses:

As you respond, think about what your reviewer wants to hear. Even better, ask, “What will persuade this reviewer to give my business a second try?” Most likely, if you respond with measurable steps on how you will change, your customer will return. If you offer an excuse, however, you may upset your customer further.

Public address, private response:

Lastly, after you publicly address the review, respond to the reviewers in private. Thank them for posting the review, offer a discount, and tell them you hope to see them again.


An advertising graduate of the Art Institute of Atlanta, Jessica Brannen brings a strategic and creative eye to managing social media and online presence for Kelsey's clients.

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