How to Respond to Negative Feedback (With Examples)

Key Takeaways

  • Responding to online reviews is crucial as 98% of consumers read them 
  • It was also found that 88% of consumers would likely support a business if the owner responds to both positive and negative reviews
  • No matter the platform, if you receive a negative review always respond in a timely, apologetic, and personable manner
  • Offer contact information for specific complaints to discuss the issue further and offer possible solutions
  • If a review seems fake or inappropriate, you can report it to try and get it removed

When a customer leaves a bad review for your business, it can be tempting to ignore it altogether.

Or even worse — respond with an equal level of negativity.

Yet, this is not the right way to build trust and credibility. As a business owner, your reputation is often your lifeblood when it comes to customer loyalty. When you pay for clicks through Google Ads or invest resources into local SEO you want to make sure your conversion rate is as high as possible. And negative reviews impacts this.

We all make mistakes from time to time, and by responding fairly and politely to negative reviews, you show your customers that you hold yourself accountable for bad experiences and are prepared to find an agreeable resolution for dissatisfied customers or guests.

In this article, we discuss why responding to negative customer reviews is a necessity and take you through the steps for responding to reviews on various platforms.

Keep reading to discover templates you can use when crafting your review responses!

Why It’s Important to Respond to Negative Customer Reviews

In BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey 2023, it is revealed that 98% of consumers read online reviews, with 76% reporting that they regularly read online reviews when browsing businesses.

This survey further uncovers the top platforms for customers to leave and read reviews:

  • Google is the most trusted review platform by consumers, with 87% of consumers relying on Google to evaluate businesses.
  • Facebook is the most popular social media platform for finding business reviews, with 46% of consumers surveyed using the platform to read reviews.
  • Yelp is the most popular review platform for the food and drink industry, with 48% of surveyed consumers reporting the use of Yelp for finding business reviews.

Arguably the most important finding from this survey is that 88% of consumers would likely support a business if the business owner responds to all reviews, both positive and negative.

In terms of how you should respond to a negative review, it can depend on two main factors:

  1. The Customer’s Complaints: The amount of detail given with a negative review can vary. Some customers will leave highly detailed reviews, while others will only leave a single star with no explanation or only a very short one. This can greatly impact how you should and can respond to a negative review, as the less detailed reviews give you less to work with in your response. If a negative review lacks substance, sometimes the best bet is to simply apologize for their negative experience and provide contact information for them to reach out to you directly.
  2. The Legitimacy of the Review: The internet is a vast and wild place, with plenty of users trolling the internet just to cause drama. While it is important to not appear dismissive of a customer’s negative review, it can be to your benefit to verify the legitimacy of the review as much as possible. If you have solid proof that the review is bogus, this can help you not only respond more effectively but also potentially have the review removed.

Keeping these two key factors in mind, let’s take a closer look at how you should respond to reviews on specific platforms, as well as how you can go about having reviews removed.

How to Respond to a Bad Google Review

Google Reviews are a feature of Google My Business (GMB), a platform for creating a business profile that can appear on Google search result pages and Google Maps.

To respond to a Google Review, you must first ensure you have either claimed or created your Google My Business profile, giving you the ability to respond as the official owner.

Under your GMB profile — which appears on the right-hand side of your screen on Google — You will see a 5-star rating scale and a link to reviews beside it. Clicking on the reviews link brings you to the main review page, where you can sort reviews according to relevancy, recency, and rating level.

This makes finding negative reviews easy, as you can filter reviews to show you the lowest ratings first.

When you are ready to begin responding to negative reviews on Google, follow these best practices when crafting your response:

  • Address the customer’s specific complaints if they listed any.
  • Provide contact information, such as an email, for customers to reach you directly.
  • Be personable and apologetic — your customer needs to know this is not the norm for your business and that you are willing to make things right.

Let’s look at three examples of well-handled negative reviews on Google:  

Good Response to a Negative Google Review Example 1

Good Response to a Negative Google Review Example 2

Good Response to a Negative Google Review Example 3

Can You Get a Bad Google Review Removed?

In certain cases where a review violates Google’s policies, it can be reported for internal review by Google. These policies cover cases of harassment, hate speech, misinformation, and more.

However, you cannot remove a review simply because you do not like it or it is negative.

To have a review removed from your profile by Google, you must follow the necessary Google My Business review process.

How to Respond to a Bad Facebook Review

Facebook reviews work somewhat differently from Google Reviews.

Like Google My Business, Facebook offers business profiles that include a wider range of features and tools for promoting your business. Once your business profile is set up, customers can visit this profile and leave reviews under the review tab.

When writing a review, customers are first prompted to answer “Yes” or “No” to the question “Do you recommend [Insert Business Name]? After choosing their response, the user must then right a description of at least 25 characters to submit the review.

Reviews can be privately posted to friends only or publically posted for anyone to see.

Unless you are friends with customers who do not recommend your business and have left a negative review privately to friends, you will not be able to respond.

You can, however, respond to the publically posted recommendations. To do so, you must open the Ratings and Reviews tab, then click the “Actions” column and select “Write Response.” Make sure to check out the official Meta webpage for managing Facebook reviews.

When writing a response to a negative review on Facebook, follow these best practices:

  • Respond quickly to negative reviews, as you are more likely to hear back from the customer on social media if you respond with speed.
  • Engage with the reviewer (to an extent) in the comments of the review — however, you should end the interaction immediately if the customer becomes hostile in the comments, making sure to provide contact information if they wish to continue the conversation privately.
  • Always, always, always include an apology in your Facebook response posts. Most customers simply want businesses to acknowledge and show accountability for a negative experience.  

Let’s take a look at an example of a well-handled response to a negative review on Facebook

Can You Get a Bad Facebook Review Removed?

Like with Google Reviews, Facebook reviews can be reported for review by the internal Facebook team. If deemed inappropriate, the review can be removed from your business profile.

However, to be able to report a Facebook review, the review must have at least one comment — this requirement often necessitates a response from business owners before a review can be flagged.

Detailed instructions for flagging a Facebook review can be found in the Meta Business Help Center.

How to Respond to a Bad Yelp Review

Similarly to Google My Business, Yelp has business profiles that can be listed without being claimed by the owners. As such, to respond to a negative review on Yelp, you must first claim your business page.

Once claimed, you can begin responding to negative reviews, either by a public response comment or through a private direct message (DM). Most businesses opt for public comments, as this can help alleviate any concerns of other customers brought about by the review, though a private DM can also be helpful in cases where a customer may be qualified for compensation.

Let’s quickly discuss the best practices for responding to negative Yelp reviews:

  • Prepare yourself mentally — as a dedicated review platform, Yelp is often home to some of the most scathing reviews left by customers. A business owner must keep a level head when dealing with criticism publically.
  • Give the customer multiple opportunities to reach out to you by responding in both a public comment and a private DM.  
  • Be timely with your response.

Here are three examples of effective responses to negative feedback on Yelp:

Good Response to a Negative Yelp Review Example 1

Good Response to a Negative Yelp Review Example 2

Good Response to a Negative Yelp Review Example 3

Can You Get a Bad Yelp Review Removed?

As a review-centric platform, Yelp is fairly strict when it comes to removing negative reviews.

For a review to be removed, it must violate Yelp’s Content Guidelines and be reported from the Reviews section of your business account. Yelp also provides a comprehensive guide to what types of reviews the platform will consider removing from your business profile.

The three main reasons that make the Yelp support team consider removing a review include:

  • Apparent conflicts of interest (such as competing businesses or former employees)
  • Description of someone else’s experience (as in, one person cannot leave a negative review on another person’s behalf — it must be the reviewer’s personal experience)
  • Inappropriate material or content (lewd commentary, hate speech, threats, etc.)

How to Respond to a Bad Airbnb Review

Airbnb is an interesting platform compared to the others discussed so far, as it is centered mainly around vacation rentals. In addition to rental listings, local business owners can also list various services and experiences they offer in a specific area (think pottery classes, city tours, horseback riding, etc.).

Both rentals and experiences can receive reviews on the Airbnb platform.

The review system on Airbnb is a bit more complex than other platforms. First and foremost, both the guest and the host can leave a review, creating a more dynamic relationship that encourages users to exchange kind reviews for both of their benefit.

Both guests and hosts have a 14-day period to leave a review. Neither side’s review will be published until that 14-day period is up, unless both sides have submitted their reviews.

Once a guest’s review is published after 14 days, then hosts can respond to the review. Hosts have 30 days after a review is submitted (not published) to respond to a review.

When responding to negative reviews on Airbnb, follow these best practices:

  • Review your listing and make sure it is totally accurate before responding — especially if the guest points out inaccuracies in your listing.
  • Address any specific complaints the guest offers in their review, such as a lack of cleanliness or insufficient amenities.
  • Express appreciation for your guest’s honest feedback. After all, this feedback will ultimately help you to improve your overall Airbnb experience for future guests.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples of good responses to negative reviews on Airbnb:

Example 1:

Example 2:

Can You Get a Bad Airbnb Review Removed?

Like the other review platforms mentioned in this guide, Airbnb does not permit hosts to remove a negative review without good reason.

Airbnb has a Reviews Policy that provides clear guidelines for what is and is not allowed in a review. If you feel that the Airbnb Reviews Policy has been violated by a guest, you can submit a report to request the Airbnb support team to evaluate the review.

How to Respond to a Bad Booking.com Review

Booking.com is a platform for booking all things travel — including hotel reservations, flights, car rentals, attractions, and more.

To respond to a negative review on Booking.com, you must first click on the “Guest Reviews” tab on the Extranet webpage. From here, you will click “Reply” to type up your response and the “Send” once your response is complete and ready to be published.

For you to submit a response to a review, the review must have at least one comment. All reviews and responses are first reviewed with Booking.com’s support team.

Here are a few best practices for responding to negative Booking.com reviews:

  • Keep a calm and polite tone throughout your response. This shows you are a level-headed business owner that wants to resolve an issue with a customer.
  • Acknowledge your guest’s disappointment and express your desire to find a solution the guest deems worthy of redemption.
  • Welcome dissatisfied guests to return to your property so you may provide them a better experience and prove that your business is still worthy of their patronage.

Here is an example of a good response to a negative review on Booking.com:

Can You Get a Booking.com Review Removed?

Guest reviews on Booking.com can be reported for an internal review if a business owner feels the review is unfair or inaccurate. Booking.com outlines six key reasons that can justify removing a review:

  • The guest canceled their reservation and never arrived
  • The reservation was not canceled by the business owner last-minute
  • The reservation is recorded as a no-show and the guest review includes no details
  • The business owner canceled a reservation the day of due to an invalid payment method
  • The guest left a review for the wrong property
  • The Booking.com team determines the guest is trying to blackmail or otherwise cause unjustified harm to the business owner

Take a look at Booking.com’s review guidelines for a full breakdown of how to request a review removal.

6 Templates for Responding to Negative Customer Reviews

Are you ready to begin responding to negative customer reviews but are still unsure of what to say?

To close out this guide, we have provided six free templates for you to use when crafting your review response below. Though each is written to be optimal for a specific platform, these templates are interchangeable, allowing you to select which template works best for your current scenario.

Here are our six templates for responding to negative customer reviews:

Google Reviews Response Template

Hello [Insert Customer Name],

Thank you for taking the time to review your experience with [Business Name]. We are terribly sorry to hear that your experience was less than satisfactory and we would love the opportunity to resolve this matter with you personally.

Regarding your complaints about [Insert specific complaint], we have taken immediate action to rectify this issue to ensure it does not happen again.

Our team would like to offer you the chance to discuss your experience in greater detail with us directly to see how we may resolve your dissatisfaction and encourage you to return to our business again in the future. Please reach out to [Insert official business email] so that we may continue this discussion with you.

We hope we can reach a satisfactory solution with you on this matter.

Thank you for your time,

[Insert Your Name]

Facebook Reviews ResponseTemplate

Hey [Insert Customer Name]!

We are so sorry to hear about your dissatisfactory experience and want to thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. Our team has reviewed this incident of [Insert description of complaint] and acted swiftly to resolve the issue by [Insert description of solution].

However, we would also like to extend a personal offer to you to discuss this matter in greater detail with our support team. If it suits you, please reach out to us via DM or at [Insert official business email] so that we may get to the bottom of this issue and find the optimal solution for you.

We express our sincere apologies and are committed to winning back your trust.

Thank you,

[Insert Your Name]

*Note: A formal sign-off with your name is not always necessary on a Facebook post, as you can respond as the business owner from an account with your name attached.

Yelp Reviews Response Template

Hello [Insert Customer Name],

It saddens our team deeply to hear that we have not lived up to your expectations and would like to extend our sincere thanks for bringing these problems to our attention. In regards to [Summary of the reviewer’s main complaints], we would like to shed some light on our internal business processes. [Insert explanation of business processes and how they went wrong]. We have held an in-depth team meeting to discuss these issues and now have a new protocol in place to avoid such issues in the future.

If you would like to reach out to us directly at [Insert official business email], we would greatly appreciate talking about this incident with you in greater detail to find a satisfactory solution. We have also sent you a DM here on Yelp for your convenience in contacting us.

Thank you for your time.

*Note: A formal sign-off with your name is not needed on Yelp, as Yelp allows you to create both a business profile and personal profile with your name attached that connects you as an owner or employee to the main business profile.

Airbnb Reviews Response Template

Hey [Insert Guest Name] — first off, thank you for choosing our Airbnb property.

We are extremely sorry to hear that your experience was not what you had hoped for and would like to extend our sincere apologies. To better serve you and other guests in the future, we would like to chat with you directly via DM or through [Insert official business email].

Regarding the matter of [Insert specific issue], we have resolved this issue by [Describe solution] and have updated our Airbnb listing accordingly.

Despite your negative experience, we would love to host you and your family/friends again in the future. Please reach out to us at your earliest convenience so we may discuss this matter further. Thank You!

*Note: A formal sign-off with your name is not needed on Airbnb, as Airbnb allows you to create both a business profile and personal profile with your name attached that connects you as an owner or employee to the main business profile.

Booking.com Reviews Response Template

Hello [Insert Guest Name],

Thank you for your feedback. We are just as disappointed as you to hear your experience was less than satisfactory at [Insert Business Name] and we hope your trip was still enjoyable despite our shortcomings. Our records indicate that there may have been an issue with your reservation that caused [Insert specific complaint] to occur. We are working diligently to resolve this issue but could greatly benefit from speaking with you directly.

Please reach out to our support team so that we may resolve this matter quickly and offer you the opportunity to have a better experience with our business.

Thank you,

[Insert Your Name]

Email Response Template

Greetings [Insert Customer Name],

We are reaching out to you today in regards to the recent review you left for our business, [Insert Business Name] on [Insert Platform Name].

It is deeply troubling to hear of your negative experience and our team would like to get to the bottom of this problem as quickly as possible. We have already put your case under review and are internally evaluating what went wrong on our end to result in your negative experience.

In the meantime, if you could please respond to this email with a detailed account of the incident that occurred on [Insert specific date] at [Insert Business Name]. This will help us to improve our business processes in the future and to determine a suitable resolution to provide to you.

We look forward to working with you on this matter. Please feel free to be as open and honest as possible — and we promise to do the same.

Kind Regards,

[Your Name & Official Position]

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