Digital Marketing Strategy,

How to Respond to Bad Reviews

Magdalena Andreeva

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All businesses are vulnerable to bad reviews, as no business is 100% perfect. An error from a salesperson, features not working quite as the client expected, or a technical error can all harm your brand’s reputation.

Research shows that one negative review can drive away 22% of prospects, if you get three negative reviews, it will push away customers by 59.2%, and over four negative reviews could result in 70% fewer leads.

However, there are ways to respond to negative reviews and keep your brand’s reputation intact.

Why Do People Leave Bad Reviews?

Happy customers rarely take the time to leave positive reviews, unless you prompt them. Unhappy customers, though, are much more likely to leave reviews of your services.

Most of the time, people don’t leave bad reviews for no reason, so it’s best to accept it as valuable feedback. So let’s have a look at the most common for negative reviews:

  • Poor service. One of the main reasons why people write bad reviews is because of a company’s poor service. Maybe the customer service representative was pressed for time, or the staff was unhelpful. When such things happen, people remember and may end up warning other users about their unpleasant experiences.
  • Problems with the product. The next most significant complaint comes from people who are unsatisfied with the product or service they purchased. Often the expectations of customers are different from what they receive. Make sure your product/service landing pages are clear, descriptive, and accurate to avoid misleading clients.
  • Policy issues. Customers are also going to notice if the policies you are maintaining are not reasonable. It would help if you enforced standard policies.

Let’s look at how you can respond to negative reviews and keep your brand’s reputation intact.

How to Respond to Bad Reviews

1. Pay Attention to Online Review Platforms

Online review platforms such as G2, Capterra, and are dedicated to reviews for software and services. These are go-to sites for users comparing technology solutions.

They can be a good opportunity to get noticed and garner positive reviews for your product or services.

Your company’s G2 Crowd rating will show publicly in Google Search along with a star-rating. G2 Crowd allows users to rate their whole experience with a brand and individual products.

Since users will be searching for particular companies or a type of product, make sure that your company has a presence on the platform and has a positive rating.

I searched for data migration tools in the G2 Crowd search bar and these are the results I got:

If your company has only limited reviews, the site will show your competitors on your page.

To get started on G2 Crowd, first search for your company and see if a profile exists. If you find your company profile, click on the “Update this Profile” button from the landing page itself. You can then quickly update your company’s landing page.

In case you don’t have a page, create one by visiting the “Vendors” page.

You can use the G2 Crowd for free. If you use additional services, it will cost you $10,000 or more.

Make it easy for your customers to leave a review. Link to different profiles and platforms where you want reviews and let them decide where to leave.

Apart from G2 Crowd, there are other SaaS review sites that you can try out, including Trustpilot, FinancesOnline, TrustRadius, and so on.

2. Encourage and Reward Users for Leaving Reviews

Rewarding users for your leaving online reviews will encourage more customers to do the same. However, you don’t want to look like you are rewarding customers in exchange for a positive review.

Make sure to reward users irrespective of whether they leave positive or negative reviews. You could offer a small gift card or discount coupon to users who willingly leave reviews. It will show them that you appreciate the time they took to provide feedback.

Some review platforms like Capterra take care of the incentive for you. Capterra regularly sends emails to their users with an Amazon gift card in exchange for a review for the software on their site, up to a limited number of reviews.

However, along with the gift card offering, the reviewers get an email encouraging them to sign up for their free reviews collection program as well. Social proof is super important for marketing SaaS, especially to millennials. So make sure to harvest reviews continuously – it always pays off.

3. Own Your Mistakes

Most of the companies copy and paste a canned response when they receive negative feedback and then hide the review in Google’s search results. Others agonizingly wait for the PR nightmare to pass away eventually.

But this tactic will work in the long term. First, the customer who left the feedback will feel highly undervalued, and there are smart shoppers who do thorough research while shopping. The best way is to acknowledge your mistake and communicate what you plan to do to correct it.

Sometimes, it is better to make amends and take responsibility for a user’s lousy experience though it may not be genuinely your fault. What you can offer is a generous apology. It can be a full or partial refund, free offers, or extra help from the account manager.

Again – take this as an opportunity to consider anything you need to change to make the user experience better and permanently fix the issue.

4. Address the Complaint Directly

Even though the public and unnamed review platform is not the right place to debate serious issues, it’s a great idea to address the critic’s primary concern.

When you do that, you are showing that you hear them and care enough to reply to their unique situation.

While doing that, you can also contrast the reviewer’s poor experience with your company’s policy or let them know that usually, your customers have a good experience and that situations like which they are experiencing are rare.

5. Move the Conversation Offline

It is not every day that you will be able to resolve a reviewer’s poor experience. In fact, trying to resolve everything in one reply can do more harm than good.

It is better to take the conversation offline. You can offer your contact information and add the name of a specific company representative. It will show that you are receptive to feedback and that you take customer service seriously. Shifts the force by offering a personalized one-on-one meeting.

6. Less Is More

Less is more when you are responding to a negative review – 3 to 4 sentences are enough. It is not wise to defend every point and prove your case, regardless of how unfair the negative reviews might be. Lengthy responses can actually legitimize the grievance and can sound defensive.

Also, avoid asking follow-up questions. You don’t want to say something that could further provoke an upset customer. They might even end up adding more negativity to the review.

7. Other Customers Will Be Reading the Review

No doubt your response should be addressed to the individual who left the review, but it will affect other customers who will be reading it in the future.

Remember that when you’re responding to negative reviews. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Plus, you can hire an expert to write the replies for you.

8. Listen to Your Staff

In case someone mentions your staff members in a review, don’t neglect to have a conversation with them. When you listen to their side of the story, you will be able to establish where to go from there. A negative review can be a good opportunity to have a staff meeting to discuss processes and boost morale.

9. Offer a Refund or Credit

If your product gets a bad review from your customer, make it a point to appeal to the unsatisfied customer. You can offer a refund or credit. Most customers will wish for compensation or reimbursement, so be prepared to follow through with their request.

To avoid losing your customer, you can also offer an alternative and invite them to try another similar product. Find out what your customers want and let them know that their satisfaction is essential for you.

10. Acknowledge and Apologize

Even when you think you are right, an apology is appropriate. Every customer undergoes a different experience, so their review is their own. You may disagree with their point of view and doubt their arguments, but you can’t question their own experience.

Showing a little sympathy will go a long way in resolving the situation. If someone is complaining about bad service, you can still say sorry that they had a bad experience without backing up their criticism.

11. Determine the Best Course of Action

In the end, it all depends on the situation. Not every negative review can be handled in the same manner. Think about how you should respond to a particular review.

You should always apply these three tactics – communicate directly, maintain a respectful and professional attitude, and keep in mind the audience. When you incorporate these three tactics, you can turn the entire situation into an advantage for your business.

What to Remember About Bad Reviews

Most customers research online and look for reviews before they purchase a product these days. And while having a negative review for a product or service may not affect your brand’s reputation, having several negative reviews can drive potential customers away and hamper the reputation of your brand.

Make sure to implement the tactics mentioned in this article to respond to bad reviews and keep your brand’s reputation intact. Acknowledging your failure, adding a touch of specificity, moving the situation offline, acknowledging and apologizing, offering a refund or credit, are just a few of the tactics you can implement.

Content can also help – creating useful tutorials and use cases, describing your product’s features clearly on your website can help avoid some bad reviews in the first place. Make sure to read our full guide on content marketing next, so you can start building a special relationship with your customers online.



This is a guest post Tim Ferguson – a writer and editor of Marketing Digest. He helps SEO agencies with link building, content marketing, online reputation management, and blogger outreach. When he is not writing and editing for Marketing Digest, he spends time on learning more about content marketing and getting better at it.

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