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Negative Review Response Examples: 10 Free Templates to Try

May 12, 2023 11 min. read
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Potential clients read reviews when they’re deciding whether or not to choose a service business. They’ll be more likely to choose your business if you have lots of positive reviews.

But even if you’re at the top of your game, you’ll eventually get a negative review. Responding will help you solve problems, create loyal clients, and show you care about your customers.

In this article, we’ll share some of the best responses to bad reviews. We’ll also show you how to respond to negative reviews and use templates to write your own thoughtful responses.

Find out how arborist Kurt Stenberg (Cochrane Tree Care) handles negative reviews from clients:

How to respond to a negative review

Follow these best practices when you’re responding to negative reviews:

1. Don’t take it personally

A negative review can feel like a slap in the face, but it generally isn’t personal. Think of it as a chance to learn, grow, build relationships, and turn a negative situation into a positive one.

2. Respond quickly

Answer a review within 24–48 hours to show customers that their problem is a priority, you care about their business, and you want to make things right.

3. Personalize the message

You can use templates to help you respond to reviews, but personalize them so customers feel seen and heard. Include details from their review to show you read it.

4. Apologize (and mean it)

Responding to a review isn’t your chance to clap back or dismiss concerns. It’s an opportunity to show empathy and acknowledge the customer’s poor experience. Say sorry, and be sincere.

5. Own the problem

Don’t get defensive or make excuses. Take ownership for what happened, explain what went wrong, and describe how you’re going to prevent that mistake from happening again.

Remember, no one is looking for a perfect response or solution. They just want their concerns to be heard, understood, and addressed.

6. Take the conversation offline

Ask the customer if you can call or email them to resolve the issue. This helps you personally connect with the customer and moves the conversation to a less public format.

7. Sign your name

Make it clear that a real person read their review and is making an effort to fix the problem. This also holds you personally accountable for solving it.

Pro Tip: After you resolve the customer issue, you might be able to ask the customer to update their negative review. This can be just as effective as a positive review because it shows other customers that you work hard to keep them happy.

Bad review examples with response templates

Now that you know how to respond to bad reviews, let’s look at some real-life negative review examples.

Watch this video with negative review response tips from a service business expert, then keep reading for free templates that you can customize for your unique situation.

Example 1: Poor communication

It’s not easy to keep track of every client interaction—unfortunately, customers can fall through the cracks. Here’s how how to respond to a negative google review about communication skills:

negative review response examples - screenshot of review about poor communication

READ MORE: Prevent negative reviews by sending customer feedback surveys

Revive Services owned up to the problem and took complete responsibility for it. David’s response shows that he’s learned from the mistake and will try hard to earn the customer’s future business.

He also offers several options for making it right, as well as his own personal phone number. That goes a long way in showing how important this customer is to him.

Use this template to respond to a poor communication issue like David did:

Example 2: Appointment no-shows

Customers get frustrated when they spend time waiting for a home service provider who never shows up. This can be hard for you to avoid, but there are ways to make the situation better.

Just look at how Lathered Cleaning Co responded to this negative review about a no-show:

negative review response examples - screenshot of review about appointment no-shows

The team at Lathered apologized for not showing up, explained why it may have happened, and invited the reviewer to try their services again in the future.

Use this template to respond to a no-show review in the same way:

Pro Tip: It’s tough to keep track of your schedule if you’re relying on spreadsheets or pen and paper. Scheduling software can help you organize the day’s visits and send on-my-way texts when you’re headed over.

Example 3: Misinformation or misunderstanding

The customer isn’t always right. They might exaggerate a problem or forget crucial details, but anyone reading the review won’t know that. All they see is a bad customer experience.

Here’s an example of a review that doesn’t include all the facts, and how Adair Tree Care handled it:

negative review response examples - screenshot of review with misinformation or misunderstanding

READ MORE: How to delete a Google review

The business owner was polite and clear about what happened. In this case, the person leaving the review wasn’t the one who ordered the work, and they had a negative interaction with the team.

This response provides a full picture to anyone who reads the review later. It also shows how the business owner responded professionally throughout a difficult situation, which may help them win future work.

Use this template to respond to a misleading review like Adair Tree Care did:

Example 4: Poor product or service quality

Your customers can get frustrated if they don’t get the product or service quality they’re paying for. This client ordered products to maintain her yard but didn’t receive the correct items, which led to this review:

negative review response examples - screenshot of review about poor product or service quality

TurFresh responded with an order update and an apology for the delay. This quick answer can make a customer feel heard and provide the necessary information at the same time.

Use this template to respond to service quality issues like TurFresh did:

Example 5: Pricing issues

Pricing is a touchy subject for many customers, especially when it changes over the course of a job. That’s why it’s so important to address negative reviews about pricing like this:

negative review response examples - screenshot of review about pricing issues

Park Lane Plumbing wrote a long response, but the extra detail explains why prices changed over time. The company serves condos and apartments, so this situation is relevant to similar customers.

You might think that giving this kind of context to a negative review is the same as giving excuses, but it’s not. Sometimes it’s the only way to explain where the feedback is coming from.

FREE TOOL: Set accurate prices with our free service price calculator

You can learn from this bad review response examples and customize this template to respond to negative reviews about pricing:

Example 6: Poor customer service

You hold yourself and your employees to high standards of service, but it’s hard to meet those standards every day—and not every customer is forgiving.

Here’s a bad customer service review example, along with a polite response from Lathered Cleaning:

negative review response examples - screenshot of review about poor customer service 1
negative review response examples - screenshot of review about poor customer service 2

The business responded quickly, thanked the customer for their feedback, acknowledged the complaint, and apologized for the poor service. They also explained why these issues happened without making excuses.

Use this template to respond to a customer service issue:

Example 7: Employee mistakes

Your employees are the face of your company, and everything that they do reflects back on you. When your employees make a mistake, customers are watching to see what you’ll do next—and if they can still trust you after.

Take a look at this mistake that was expertly handled by the team at Pad Pal:

negative review response examples - screenshot of review about employee mistakes

Pad Pal visited the customer not once, but twice—and the first time was just to apologize for their mistake. From there, the team went on to fix the problem and satisfy the customer.

They also thanked the customer for the learning experience. Any future customers who see the review will see how the company learned from their mistake and improved as a result.

Use this template to respond to unhappy customer reviews after an employee mistake:

Example 8: Questionable reviews

Every so often, you may get a negative review that makes you scratch your head. Maybe it isn’t meant for your business, or it comes from someone you’ve never heard of.

It could even be from a dissatisfied customer who wants to remain anonymous or a competitor looking to bad-mouth your business.

Whoever it is and whatever the reason, it can be hard to know how to deal with a questionable review. That’s why we’re sharing 1-star review response examples—here’s how Best Handyman Boston addressed the problem:

negative review response examples - screenshot of a questionable review

READ MORE: Can a company sue over a bad review?

Ryaan couldn’t find proof that this reviewer ever contacted his company, but he still responded as though they did. He offered free service and an open line of communication, just in case the person wants it.

Use this template to respond to questionable reviews like Ryaan did:

Example 9: Neutral reviews

This one isn’t technically a negative review but a neutral one. We’ve included it to reinforce why you should respond to all reviews—not just the one-star reviews.

The customer gave the company a three-star Google review because their work was good, but it may have led to possible property damage. 

Best Handyman Boston handled this neutral review like pros:

negative review response examples - screenshot of neutral review

The owner provided a brief personalized reply, addressing the customer by name, apologizing, and explaining that they’ve taken action to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Use this template to respond to a neutral review:

Example 10: Turning a negative review into a positive

The way you respond to reviews will show your customers what type of business you are. And if you do it right, you might even be able to turn a negative review into a positive.

Just look at how Park Lane Plumbing did the same for a frustrated customer:

negative review response examples - screenshot showing how to turn a negative review into a positive

READ MORE: How one business got 500+ 5-star reviews through technology

Responding to the customer’s negative review led to a great service experience, a much better impression of the business, and a five-star review.

Use this template to encourage the customer to give you another chance to impress them. It won’t always work, but when it does, it could lead to a good review and a loyal customer.

Showing potential customers how you deal with the positives and negatives of doing business makes them confident that you’re the right person for the job—and gives you a second chance to turn an unhappy customer into a fan.

Originally published November 2021. Last updated December 6, 2022.

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