How to Respond to Negative Reviews

No matter your type of business, reviews matter. They help potential customers quickly evaluate you and get a sense of your reputation. 

According to the Spiegel Research Center, nearly 95% of people read reviews before making an online purchase, and when businesses displayed their reviews they saw a 270% increase in sales.

Your online reputation matters, and how you approach soliciting and responding to reviews can affect your bottom line.

In this article, we are going to go through how to respond to negative reviews, soliciting positive reviews, and how to increase the overall sentiment of your reviews.

1. Reviews Often Tell You More About the Reviewer Than the Business

I believe 10% of commenters on the internet are insane. If it’s on YouTube, that percentage is probably north of 75%. 

With this in mind, it’s essential to start this article by explaining that not all reviews need to be responded to by you. Some people will complain if the sky is blue. 

For example, here is a real review of the Great Pyramid of Giza. 


As you can see above, this review doesn’t warrant any response as it tells us nothing about the experience other than the fact that the pyramids aren’t modern.

You can look up any critically acclaimed movie, restaurant, or attraction, and you will find one-start reviews, with complaints that are based in an alternate reality. Business owners shouldn’t be concerned with the contents of these reviews.

2. Responding to Criticism

If someone leaves a review that is (i) factual or (ii) gives you criticism, you should be listening and responding to reviews. 

When a past customer leaves a review, this is often a chance to win back that customer, and at the least, show other potential customers who read the review that you are listening to and accountable. 

Some quick tips:

  1. If someone has had a bad experience with your product, do not lead with a “we’re sorry that you..”
  2. If you need to apologize, do it.
  3. Do not use legalese in your response–keep it simple.

3. How to Get More (Real) Reviews

Although you shouldn’t respond to seemingly crazy reviews, you should pay attention to how they affect your overall star rating. Ranking above four stars is imperative to business success. Research indicates that companies/products that fall between 4.0-4.7 in ratings drive more sales.

*If a company is rated too high, consumers see the reviews as manipulated and too good to be true.

Consumers will be able to tell when reviews are fake, and this could land your business in hot water. The cosmetics brand Sunday Riley got into deep trouble with FTC when they made employees leave fake reviews

People want authentic reviews, and they can spot fake reviews.

When we worked on a review project with a company that sold MCAT prep courses, we sent an email to all of their past students and said, “Hi there, we are looking to grow and make our courses better for future students. We’d love it if you could leave a review of your experience here. Also, anyone who does leave a review will be entered into a draw for a new iPad (star rating does not affect your chance to win).”

This single email resulted in over 100 authentic reviews and brought that company from a 3.8 rating to a 4.4 rating.

That was a small effort, with a relatively nominal cost that yielded significant returns. However, it wasn’t without risk, as their past customers could have rated their product lower than the 3.8 at which it stood. 

That brings us to our next point.

Improve Your Product/Service

Increasing your reputation starts with improving your work quality. That is something in your control that you can make immediate changes to improve.

“You can either use negative comments to get you down, or you can use them to excite you to make a better pizza. We did the latter.” – Patrick Doyle, Domino’s CEO

Most famously, in 2009, Domino’s Pizza listened to their customers’ complaints and took complete accountability for their “cardboard pizza crust,” and other issues.

See their turnaround story below:

Domino’s faced the music and came out dancing–your brand can do the same.

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