8 Tips How to Respond to Negative Customer Reviews of Your Business

While of all us entrepreneurs desire a 100% positive feedback, it is not really likely to happen.

There will always be customers who are unhappy with your product or service. While some of these reviews are unfair, life just works that way.

Instead of expecting fairness from consumers, you have to accept the fact that they are entitled to their opinions.

What matters more is how you react. If you do this right, you will maintain a good relationship with your viewers.

Today, I will show you several ways how to respond to negative customer reviews of your business.

1. Show empathy

The first thing you have to do on how to respond to negative customer reviews of your business is to show empathy.

Empathy is different from pity. Empathy means you understand what the customer is going through.

Saying “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” is the default statement of people who want to empathize. This is not technically correct.

While apology works, for lack of words, it does not fully convey what you feel about the situation. It does not fully make the customer that you feel what he feels.

You can say things like “I understand what you are going through…”

Here are some responding to negative reviews examples:

  • I can see how difficult this situation is for you
  • I hear what you are saying
  • It is completely natural for you to feel this way

To make this work, you really have to put yourself in the position of your customer.

There is no going around this. Do not be antagonistic. Never make the issue about who is right and who is wrong.

Your first goal is to diffuse the situation and not to escalate it. If you show empathy, your customer is not likely to make a bigger fuss out of it.

2. React quickly

Negative reviews have to be taken care of. What this means is that you cannot ignore these comments, especially those that can seriously harm your business.

One problem with many entrepreneurs is that they will sit high up on their pedestals and ignore the customer who had a bad experience.

Why do they do this?

Here are some reasons:

  • They are too proud
  • They think the customer is a competitor sabotaging them
  • They do not believe they did not make a mistake
  • They do not want to take accountability

Do not be like these entrepreneurs. If you sold something online, some bad things are bound to happen.

On some occasions, nothing went wrong but your customer is still not satisfied.

As a business owner, you have to take accountability. I am not saying that you have to blame yourself.

What I am saying is that you have to consider how to improve your processes.

For example, let us say that you shipped an item and it got broken.

It is not your fault. But in the customer’s eyes, you are accountable.

What you can do here is to find out how you can improve your packaging next time to prevent this from happening again.

You will take a financial loss, yes, but you certainly will keep your customers loyal to you.

3. Explain what happened

Take the time to explain, in positive words, what happened.

If you cannot do this yet, you must at least reply to your customer, and then tell the customer that you will investigate the matter. What does this do?

Customers who leave negative feedback feel that they are wronged.

And because they are wronged, they look at you as either an ally or an enemy. If they see you as an enemy, you need to turn things around.

If they see you as an ally, then you have to provide them with the support that they need.

Customers pay you money—and you have the responsibility to help them out in a bad situation.

So, for a broken item that arrived at a customer’s house, think about how the customer is going to feel. Surely, the customer has no use for that product anymore.

Even if you shipped the item in good condition, you cannot say that it is not your fault.

You see, it is not the customer’s fault, either. It is the shipper’s fault. So, will the customer suffer for this?

Obviously, you are not doing justice to the customer if you do not respond to his complaint.

If the customer left negative feedback, you have to at least say that you will investigate with the courier and see what happened.

Or better yet, own the situation and fix the problem.

4. Do not take things personally

One mistake that many entrepreneurs make is that they view negative feedback as an attack. It does not really work like that.

When a customer leaves a negative review, do not take things personally. it is not about you.

The customer is ranting because he was not served right.

If you take things personally, you will snap and you will say harsh words—and you can never take these things back.

Here are tips on how to do this right:

  • Do not retaliate against your customer
  • Do not make justifications about the issue
  • Do not blame yourself or the customer
  • Do not directly blame others
  • Do not say anything that makes it look like you were insulted

There is a saying that goes “business is business.” What this means is that anything that happens in your business is just business—you should not take things too personally.

If you do, you will be making decisions based on your emotions, not based on what is logical and rational.

If you are too furious or angry, then take the time to get a breather.

Spend some time relaxing, and let your anger subside. Once your anger has subsided, create your response and offer a solution.

5. Offer a discount

After showing your empathy, responding quickly, and explaining what happened, you have to offer something to appease your customer.

On many occasions, you can offer a discount to the customer on his next purchase.  

Now, you cannot do this all the time.

There are situations where you cannot offer a discount, and the only thing that will make a customer happy is if you offer a refund, which we will talk about later.

If the item you sent was broken and unusable, the only thing you can do is to offer a refund. But if it works, you can offer a discount.

Be careful when doing this. As I mentioned, you cannot do this all the time. Read your customer’s review and try to see what the real problem is.

If the customer gives a hint that the item is usable and sound like he is not interested in a refund, you can offer a discount on the next purchase, provided that he has the likelihood of buying from you again.

Also, you can offer a discount only if it makes sense.

For example, let us say that the customer bought a picture frame.

He left a negative review because the frame is scratched at the back.

Now, you made a mistake here—you sent an item that is not up to par with customer expectations.

In this case, you can offer a discount. Why?

Because you made an error, and the customer can still use your product.

It is easier to solve a problem this way and make your customer buy again.

If you offer a refund, you will incur more costs.   

6. Offer a refund

If the situation warrants it, you have to offer a refund. There is no going around this.

One painful thing about issuing a refund is that both you and the customer lose a lot of money.

  • In a refund situation, the customer paid for shipping, which you used to pay the shipping courier
  • You spent time and money on packaging
  • Now, the customer has to ship the item back

As you can see, these are funds that are lost already and there is no bringing them back.

Offering a refund is bad for business from a financial sense, but you have to do it if the customer was wronged.

As an entrepreneur, there are many things you do in good faith.

What you do not realizes is that many customers may misunderstand your product description.

This is why you need to create a refund policy.

This should make it clear to the customer that your refund policies have limitations.

For example, you cannot issue refunds to dresses that people could have worn already.

There are situations where you cannot get out of it. Again, a broken item is something that you should refund.

It is not the customer’s fault if the item was broken during the shipment. In this case, I also suggest that you pay for the cost of the shipment back to you.

7. Do not rant

Another tip on how to respond to negative feedback from customer is that you should not rant.

What does this mean? When customers complain, you surely have a lot of things to say. However, you should avoid this altogether.

Keep your messages short. Make sure you empathize and explain what you plan to do.

If possible, do not make your offer in a public forum—do it in private. This I will explain on the last tip.

8. Take the issue offline

When dealing with negative customer reviews, you have to acknowledge the issue publicly. The next thing you have to do is to take it offline.

If a customer made a purchase from you, you have to discuss the settlement and the resolution on email, on the phone, or via a personal chat.


Because you and the customer going back and forth in a public forum is not an ideal sight to behold.

You are exposing yourself to other people. If you offer a refund, other customers will think that it is easy to take advantage of you—the same thing goes with offering a discount.

Solve the problem in private, and make sure that you maintain respect.

If you respond angrily, the customer may post screenshots of your conversation online.  

Summary: how to respond to negative customer reviews of your business

Customer acquisition is tough. You are competing against hundreds of sellers in the same niche.

You should be happy that they bought items from you.

Despite all the hard work you put in to provide quality products, you will not have 100% positive feedback.

You need to learn how to respond to negative feedback.

Sometimes, it is infuriating to see unfair negative reviews. But customers are customers. You have to treat them right.

Many other people read reviews before they make a purchase. You have driven traffic to your site so make the best out of it. 

If you are antagonistic to your unsatisfied customers, your negative behavior will be seen by others.

And if they do, they will not buy from you. Treat your customers right, even if they are unfair.

Thank them for their time, and find ways to remedy the situation.

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