How To Respond To Negative Reviews

So, you’ve finally built a content strategy that is engaging your users and building your social presence, but you’re starting to see that not all of your engagements are positive ones. The first, and arguably most important, thing that you should keep in mind is that every business will receive bad reviews.

There’s not much that you can do to prevent negative reviews from being published to platforms. What you do have control over is how you reply to and manage those reviews. Instead of thinking of reviews as a semi-anonymous critique of your business, think of them as an opportunity to create a conversation about that customer’s concerns and make that customer feel seen. 

Reviews are a great way to learn more about how customers see your business and they can help you spot areas of improvement for you and the rest of your staff, think of them as free market research for your business. As you look through the bad reviews that you are receiving, here are some ways that you can respond to negative reviews left for your business. 

4 ways you can respond to a bad review

01. Let the customer know if and how you will implement their suggested change. 

This step is about offering a solution to your user’s valid concerns. If you’ve looked at their review and you find that what they’ve noted is a recurring issue, something toxic or dangerous, or something that is in direct conflict to your business’s code of ethics it’s important that that is addressed right away by your team.


In this instance it’s best to let the customer know that you’ve heard them and your reply should include the steps that you will be taking to ensure that the situation isn’t repeated. This could be as simple as replying to a post on franki that references your business that specifies the exact solution your are proposing for that customer’s complaint. You may also consider sending them a direct message as a more direct follow up to their unique experience that invites them back so they can truly see that you mean what you’ve said. Be sure to thank them for their feedback.


02. Show the user you hear and understand them without specifics.

Sometimes you can’t fix a customer’s complaint right away and that’s okay. What’s important in this situation is that you prove to the customer that you can understand where they’re coming from and empathize with them. Customers love feeling like they’ve truly been heard by a business when they express their concerns. This is not only where you should empathize with them, but you should let them know you appreciate their feedback and you have passed that feedback on to the team that will be able to address this in the future. While you might not have a specific date and time in mind for this fix, it’s best practice to keep a note of this type of feedback and circle back to this post once a fix has been found. This shows that even months later, you are truly taking customer feedback to heart and that your business wants to be the best version of yourself.


03. Acknowledge the customer’s experience without getting defensive

Oftentimes you will get negative reviews that don’t have much to do with a problem that stems from your product or service. In that situation it would be best to reply and an acknowledgement that doesn’t get defensive or argumentative. Customers aren’t always right when they complain about your business, but the way that you handle these types of situations says a lot about how customers will view your business. For example, if a customer complains that service was slow on a Friday when your restaurant is at capacity and your staff has been working hard, you can acknowledge that customer’s concerns while also explaining that waitstaff manage the capacity of the restaurant well but should warn customers of the longer wait times when they have a full dining room. And, of course, be sure to thank them for their feedback.


04. Offer a customer compensation for their experience

This can be done through a private message but the goal here is to give customers another chance to enjoy what your business has to offer. By providing a comped meal or a gift card, you are putting your money where your mouth is and showing customers that their experience at your business matters. You’re also showing them that you appreciate them and are dedicated to giving them the real experience they missed out on the first time. Set aside some budget every month to provide compensation for customers (whether you agree with their assessment of your business or not) and you might be able to turn some of those negative experiences into positive ones. This can be one of the easiest ways to turn your negative reviews into positive ones. 

As you begin thinking about how to handle negative reviews for your business it might be handy to create a social media escalation process that you and your team can follow to ensure that the right information gets to the right people in a timely manner. This escalation process lays out exactly what process should be followed the second a bad review is received and is a great way to ensure that your customers feel heard and understood by your staff. 

By reviewing and responding to bad reviews you can see the root of each customer’s problem. It could be something as simple as a misunderstanding between a staff member to a menu item causing issues for customers. The only way that you can be sure that a customer’s issue isn’t recurring would be to connect with them and learn more about why they walked away from their experience with a negative opinion. 

In that same vein, it’s also a great idea to connect with reviews that are positive as well. This can show users that you appreciate their business and their time to review you on social media. Using franki, you can like, comment, and even share your good reviews. You might even have the resources to reward frequent customers or reviews that stand out really well. There’s a lot you can do when you take the time to connect with your customers.