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Reputation Management: How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Last updated on May 23, 2024
8 minute read
Key Takeaways

  • Responding to negative reviews is crucial to your reputation management.
  • Take your emotion out of your responses to avoid escalating the situation.
  • Think critically of their feedback and see if you should make changes to your business.

Skill Level

Beginner, Intermediate

Managing your online reputation is crucial to the success of your business. One major part of this process is responding to your reviews — those that are negative and those that are positive.

According to Global Newswire, 95% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase. Keeping this in mind, you want to make sure that you read your reviews, respond in a timely manner, and act on any negative reviews that need your attention. This will help to build trust with your customers which in turn can bring in more bookings.

This guide will cover why you need to respond to your reviews as well as tips to responding to your negative reviews. Stay tuned for a guide on how to formulate a response for a positive review.  

Why should you respond to reviews?

Responding to your new reviews will typically only take a few minutes of your time each week and has a wealth of benefits for your business. For instance, it will:

  • Showcase that you are dedicated to your customers and interested in their feedback.
  • Smooth over a negative experience which could lead to a reviewer improving their original rating or giving your business another chance.
  • Improve your SEO ranking since Google recognizes businesses that respond to reviews.

97% of people reading your reviews will also read your responses (LocaliQ). This means that it is vital to respond eloquently and appropriately to keep your customers happy and encourage more bookings. You can use this as a way to better communicate with your guests, new and old. 

Now let’s get into the best practices for responding to negative and positive reviews.

Responding to Negative Reviews

All business owners dread negative reviews — and they can’t always be avoided. Whether a guest was just having a bad day or there was a misunderstanding between the customer and an employee, bad reviews can even affect businesses with a high star rating.

Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to responding to reviews like a professional.

1. Assess the review internally before writing

When you receive a bad review, it’s important to never respond in a moment of anger.  While it’s normal to feel upset, you don’t want to come across as defensive or hostile.  When you take some time to think about your response, you can focus on turning the situation around and offering the customer a solution to the problem.

2. Apologize

Even if you do not agree with the negative review, apologizing should always be the first step as you begin to write a response. Keep in mind that their experience was their own and you shouldn’t dispute them.

Approach the review with a calm and collected response and empathize with the guest by acknowledging what went wrong. Expressing the fact that you understand someone’s feelings goes a long way toward defusing a situation.

3. Get Specific

Writing your apology is not the time to be vague. While you don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty on a public platform, addressing specific details lets the reviewer know you understand what went wrong and have taken the time to write more than just a generic response.

This is also a good place to contrast their experience with a company motto or mission statement to show that your business doesn’t stand for the bad experience the customer had. Say something along the lines of we pride ourselves on our customer service, and we regret that we didn’t live up to that standard in this situation.

4. Take Things Offline

If the situation calls for further escalation, move the conversation offline by offering contact information and giving the customer a chance to reach out privately. This showcases that you are receptive to their feedback and take customer service seriously. 

5. Reassure the Customer & Offer Solutions

 To further diffuse the situation, consider offering the customer a refund or discount on a future tour, or assure the customer that their review is being taken seriously. Tell them you value them as a customer, appreciate hearing their feedback, and will strive to do better in the future.  


Let’s say you run a zip line business and just received a 2-star review from a woman who brought her two kids to your zip line course yesterday. She complained because three of the eight zip lines were closed for maintenance and says she was not informed of this before arriving. Below is an example of how you could respond.

Dear guest,

Thank you for your feedback. We are very sorry your zip line experience did not live up to your expectations yesterday. We understand you were expecting all eight zip lines to be open for you and your kids to enjoy and that it was a disappointment to only have access to five of them. At Jungle Zip Line, safety is our number one priority, and we determined that these lines needed to be closed for maintenance due to damage from a recent storm. We really appreciate your business and would love to hear from you in order to make your next experience with us more enjoyable. Please reach out to John, our customer service manager, at 555-555-5555 or [email protected]. If you’d like to come back and try all eight zip lines, we’d be happy to send you a voucher for another day. 

Thank you,

Steve Zip

Jungle Zip Line Owner

Responding to negative reviews is a crucial part of online reputation management. Our next guide will cover the best way to respond to positive reviews. While this may seem less important, it can also have lasting results. Learn more here


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