Marketing is a two-way process and customer feedback is a crucial part of it. Whether positive or negative, feedback lets you know if the customer’s expectations of your business were met.

If the consumers’ feedback is positive, then you know that your marketing strategies work and you are going in the right direction. When negative, it is a call for introspection, improvement, and adjustment. In other words, negative feedback requires more attention.

It is arguably, the most valuable type of feedback because it offers businesses a chance to engage with their customers, nurture customer trust, provide social proof, and offer insights for improving their products, services, and processes.

Also, negative reviews help potential customers to make an informed decision to engage with your business by setting realistic expectations. Some customers are wary about engaging with a business that has no negative reviews at all.

A 2020 consumer review survey by BrightLocal shows that 96% of consumers who look at businesses’ reviews are keen to read the companies’ responses to the reviews with 40% of the respondents saying that they always read responses. Furthermore, 70% of the respondents said that they were more willing to buy from a business that responds to negative reviews.

Consumer reviews survey 2020

How to Respond to Negative Feedback

Below are tips and examples of how to respond to negative online reviews:

1. Be empathetic, retaliate or acknowledge the issue, and apologize to the customer.

While you are likely to come across a few naysayers, most customers who leave a negative review for your business do so because they genuinely had a dissatisfactory experience. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes to have an understanding of the challenges they encountered dealing with your business. Do not be defensive or dismissive. Retaliate the issue or acknowledge that the customer had a dissatisfactory experience with your company and then apologize.

This is exemplified in most Adore Me responses to negative reviews on PissedConsumer as depicted on the screenshot below.

Adore Me company responses

2. Offer a solution.

Outline clearly the next steps that the customer may take to resolve the issue. @Amazonhelp on Twitter often does a great job of offering customers clear step-by-step instructions for resolving the complaints.

For instance, in the tweet thread below, the reviewer complains about how hard it is for them to use the Apple Book App on the Kindle App as it keeps crashing. Amazon customer service representatives responded to the reviewer with steps to resolve the issue. When the customer reached out again to say that the issue had not been resolved, Amazon Help offered further steps.

Amazon Help on Twitter

3. Respond timely.

The BrightLocal 2020 review survey  further reveals that customers expect businesses to respond to reviews quickly. 20% expect a response within a day, 26% within 2 days, 15% within 3 days, and 15% within a week.

BrightLocal 2020 review survey

Customers not only expect to receive a response on their reviews timely but the response should not be a template reply. 70% of customers said that they would be put off if a business offered a template response. Instead, they expect the business to address the specific issue professionally and publicly while giving their side of the story.

Most of the big brands are keen to respond within one business day up to a week. For instance, @Nikeservice on Twitter mostly responds within 6 hours while @AskPayPal may respond within 3 working days.

NikeService and AskPaypal responses on Twitter

It is important to respond timely to negative customer reviews even on review websites such as, no matter if the negative reviews are few or numerous. Purrfect Packs is a good example of companies on that respond to negative reviews even though the critical reviews are not many.

Purrfect Packs response to review

4. Thank the customer for their review.

Show appreciation to the customer for taking their time to offer you feedback. Then offer a solution or way forward.

This is how Starbuck’s customer service agents act when customers reach out for them with complains. So, it leaves an impression that the Starbuck Twitter page is quite engaging and light-hearted.

Starbucks reply on Twitter

5. Use indirect speech to avoid coming off as aggressive.

This strategy is especially helpful as a way to redirect blame from the customer.

For instance, if the customer was supposed to provide certain information to facilitate the purchase process of a given product but they did not, instead of saying “you did not provide the correct information”, you can say "we do our best to process customer orders promptly. However, we require that the customer provides us will all the necessary information on the onset. Otherwise, it takes a little longer to process the order as we have to contact the customer to get the correct information."

6. Make the necessary amendments in your processes and products to make it painless to the customer.

If there is indeed a real problem with your product or process, the negative reviews will keep coming as long as it is not rectified.

For instance, in a recent Wendy’s review on Twitter, a customer gave a negative review about the company’s staff at the various Webb City MO not wearing their masks properly. While Wendy’s customer service representative responded to the tweet saying that the issue would be reported to the management team, there were no changes. The reviewer responded to the tweet a few days later pointing out that no changes had been made as the employees were still wearing their masks wrongly. The reviewer said that they might have to switch to Burger King or Mc Donalds.

Wendys customer service response

7. Get to the bottom of the issue.

If the issue at hand needs investigating, get in touch with the involved company staff to establish what happened.  This helps to determine where the breakdown was in order to resolve the issue fully. If the resolution of the issue is in progress, provide the customer with updates.

For example, in a House O review on PissedConsumer, the company responded to a negative review explaining to the customer the measures they were taking to resolve the issue about delayed shipment.

House O response to customer

8. Stay respectful and present the facts even when you encounter rude customers.

Refrain from being rude or making a mockery of customers’ reviews. For instance, the Sunrise Tacos owner’s response featured on Reddit is a good example of how not to respond to customers. While other Reddit members made fun of the review, such a response can be degrading to your business’ brand image. In this scenario, it would have been best to respectfully let the reviewer know that they were reviewing the wrong business and to apologize because the nachos did not meet the reviewer’s expectations.

Reddit thread on company feedback

How to Get Feedback

Now that you understand the importance of negative reviews to your businesses and how to handle them, it is important to provide an easily accessible way for customers to leave their reviews.

As mentioned above, a lot of companies have a dedicated social media page where customers present their complaints, questions, and reviews and the company’s customer service representatives respond.  Other companies provide a feedback form on their website.

Another effective way is to partner with the top review website to monitor and timely respond to customer reviews. The reality is, customers will go to review sites to leave their complaints anyway. Having an opportunity to respond to the negative reviews will help to preserve your brand’s image by publicly resolving the issue.

PissedConsumer offers businesses various packages for managing reviews. Some of the features of the business solutions packages include:

  • Monitoring reviews
  • Real-time review alerts
  • API integration
  • Solution for anonymous reviewers
  • Verification of reviewers
  • Direct messaging
  • Delay of review publication among others

One of the top FAQs companies have about PissedConsumer is why most of the reviews are negative. PissedConsumer is a neutral platform where customers leave both positive and negative reviews about companies. But the thing is people are more driven to take action when they are angry or upset.

We encourage companies to be responsive. In this way, they are more likely to win customers loyalty. We offer businesses an opportunity to respond to customers for free. Customers who have had great experiences with the various companies are also encouraged to leave their positive reviews.

It is inevitable that your business will get some bad reviews along the way. Instead of attempting to delete them, use them as tools to nurture trust and engagement with your customers. Respond professionally and offer clear steps for resolving the issue.

The goal when handling negative reviews is to preserve the relationship with the affected customer as well as a potential customer for future sales. By mending the relationship with a disappointed consumer, you retain them as a customer. A potential customer who comes across your response to the previous consumers’ issue will get a sense that you are keen about building and retaining customer relationships.

If your business does not already have a way to receive customer feedback, it is important you set up one.  Give it a try with the PissedConsumer business solution and improve your brand’s image.

Freelance Writer

By Winnie
Health and Beauty Expert

Winnie is a freelance writer and B2C content expert who specializes in health and beauty, cafes and restaurants, fitness products buyer guides and researches. She has been working with international clients since 2012.

*The company ratings on the PissedConsumer website are calculated using a mathematical algorithm that evaluates the information in the company’s profile. The algorithm parameters are: users’ rating, the number of resolved issues, the number of company responses and more. The PissedConsumer algorithm is also subject to change in the future.

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