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How to Respond to a Negative Review: Response Examples & Templates

March 8, 2024 14 min. read
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Even if you’re at the top of your game, eventually all businesses will get a negative review. Responding will help you solve problems, create loyal clients, and show prospective customers your excellent customer service.

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 customer reviews:

Negative review response templates and examples

Lets take a look at some real-life negative review examples and how each home service company responded.

Here are the types of negative reviews we’ll cover:

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. Try this negative review response template to reply to a customer complaint about communication skills:

Here’s an example of a negative review about poor communication:

negative review response examples - screenshot of review about poor communication

What they do well:

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.

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.

Use this template to respond to complaints about no-shows:

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

What they do well:

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.

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 customer’s bad experience.

Try this template to respond to misinformation or misunderstandings:

READ MORE: How to delete a Google review

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

What they did well:

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.

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. 

Use this response template to address any customer complaints about the service you provided:

This client from this review ordered products to maintain her yard but didn’t receive the correct items.

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

What they did well:

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.

Example 5: Pricing issues

Pricing is a touchy subject for many customers, especially when it changes over the course of a job. Here’s how to respond to a negative online review about pricing:

Here’s how Park Lane Plumbing responded to their unhappy customer:

negative review response examples - screenshot of review about pricing issues

What they did well:

Their response is long, but the extra detail explains why prices changed over time. Park Lane Plumbing 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.

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.

Use this template to respond to negative reviews about your poor customer service:

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

What they did well:

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.

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.

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

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

What they did well:

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.

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.

Use this template to respond to questionable reviews:

Here’s how Best Handyman Boston addressed a 1-star review from a questionable source.

negative review response examples - screenshot of a questionable review

What they did well:

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.

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

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.

Here’s how to respond to a 2, 3, or 4-star review:

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

negative review response examples - screenshot of neutral review

What they did well:

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.

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.

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.

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

What they did well:

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.

Best practices for responding to negative reviews

Follow these tips to respond to a negative review and improve your customer retention.

1. Don’t take it personally

A negative review can feel like a slap in the face, but it’s not a personal attack. 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 you take their complaint seriously, care about their business, and are committed to making things right.

3. Personalize the message

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

4. Apologize (and mean it)

Responding to a review isn’t your chance to point the blame elsewhere 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 of what happened, explain what went wrong, and describe how you’re planning 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 the issue.

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.

How to respond to a negative customer review online

Here’s how to respond to a negative review on different review sites:

How to respond to a negative Google review

Here’s how to read and reply to reviews on Google:

  1. Login to your Google Business Profile account
  2. Navigate to the “Reviews” tab on the left hand sidebar
  3. Scroll through the list of reviews to find the one you want to address
  4. Click on the “Reply” button under the review, write your response, and click “Submit”.

READ MORE: How to delete a Google review and protect your business’s reputation

How to respond to reviews on Yelp

Here’s how to respond to reviews on Yelp:

  1. Login to Yelp for Business
  2. Click on the “Reviews” tab on the sidebar
  3. Find the review you want to respond to
  4. Decide whether you want to respond publicly or send a direct message to the reviewer
  5. For public replies, click “Add Public Comment”
  6. Type your response and click “Post”

How to respond to reviews on Facebook

Follow these instructions to respond to Facebook reviews:

  1. Login to your Facebook and go to your business page
  2. Click “Reviews” on the left sidebar
  3. Choose the review you want to reply to 
  4. Click “Reply” beneath the review and type your response in the comment box
  5. Click the “Post” button to submit your response

READ MORE:How to remove reviews from Facebook

Why responding to negative reviews is important

Responding to negative reviews online shows that you’re committed to customer satisfaction and helps minimize any potential reputation damage by addressing and resolving concerns publicly.

Here’s how responding to negative (and positive) reviews can help your service business:

  1. Demonstrate your customer service. Responding to negative reviews shows potential customers that you care about their business and are committed to providing the best service possible. 
  2. Learn from your mistakes. No business is perfect. Responding to negative customer feedback gives you the chance to learn from your mistakes, make improvements or changes to your business, and grow.
  3. Retain customers. By addressing the concerns of unsatisfied customers, there’s a chance to make the situation right, rebuild trust, and potentially retain the customer.
  4. Improve your online visibility. Responding to reviews online (both negative and positive) can improve your positioning on the search results page when prospective customers are searching for local services.
  5. Manage your brand’s reputation. More than 99.9% of consumers read online reviews when considering a business—so ignoring negative reviews can affect how potential customers view your business. Showing a commitment to resolving issues or mistakes shows that you run a professional business that values its customers.

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 October 11th, 2023.

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