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How To Respond To Negative Feedback?

Kate Williams

Last Updated:  

13 June 2024

9 min read

Dear Readers, consider an office where employees A and B work.

One day, they get called into their boss’s cabin to receive some negative feedback. Employee A accepts the reviews with grace and agrees to make some positive changes. But Employee B does the opposite and indulges in a screaming match with their boss.

Of these two people, who would you say had the best response? If you answered Employee A, then we have a winner!

But here’s the most important part! With businesses, too, this is very much the case. So, anytime a company receives negative reviews, they have to be sure to respond well. Yes, yes, we know, it doesn’t sound like much fun! However, by responding well to such feedback, companies can easily impress their customers and improve services.

Now, are you curious to know if your company has the best response to negative reviews? If so, we’ve got you covered! In this simple guide on how to respond to negative feedback, we’ll help you do all of that and more. So, let’s begin!

How To Respond To Negative Feedback

Responding to negative feedback is nothing short of an art. However, much like art, it doesn’t always come easily to many people. But don’t worry! We’ve got some good news for you!

Unlike other skills, you can quickly learn how to respond to negative feedback. So, in a few simple steps, a company can iron out the best response to any criticism they get. Are you wondering what these steps are? If so, let’s take a look at them below!

1. Accept The Inevitable

Negative criticism is good for you. (There, we’ve said it!) And as a business owner, you must always expect to see them. So, your first order of business is to accept that there is no way around it. And once that is out of the way, you can get cracking on responding to negative reviews! Sounds easy, right?

2. Plan Out Your Response to Negative Feedback

Once you’ve got the first step out of the way, you’re all set to call a meeting of your team members. Here, you must discuss a way to handle the negative feedback you receive. So, while you’re at it, make sure you get the following things done!

(a) Set Down A Response Time

Imagine you send out a message to a friend, and it takes forever to get back to you. Wouldn’t you be very frustrated with them? Well, so would your customers! So, choose a reasonable response time and stick to it. Ideally, this should be between two to three days.

(b) Assign Someone To The Responses

Next, you’ll need to assign someone to do the dirty work for you. This way, there will be no confusion on whose job it is to address the negative reviews. What’s more?! Doing so will also help you get back to your customers on time.

(c) Flesh Out Your Negative Feedback Response Policies

Finally, do your best to put down a company-wide policy on how to respond to negative feedback. This way, your company can present a united front to its customers. Moreover, you won’t have to juggle customers from one department to another, adding to their annoyance.

3. What’s In A Name? Well, Everything!

Here’s another rule of how to respond to negative feedback – always address your reviewers by name! Now, you might think that this is just a mind trick. So, why even bother, right? But we’ll tell you right now that this is not true! Sure, you can start with a simple hello or a Dear Sir/ Ma’am. But it’s certainly not as potent as this little trick. So, if you are privy to your customer’s name, go ahead and use it!

4. Apologies Can Go A Long Way

Don’t worry! We don’t expect you to get down on your knees and grovel. However, a quick and sincere apology can still go a long way towards customer retention. So, while drafting your response, make sure you apologize for their trouble! This way, you’ll make your customers feel heard and understood.

While it is important to understand how to respond to negative feedback, understanding the purpose of the same is equally essential. And customer retention is one of the major purposes.

Your negative feedback response plays a crucial role in retaining your customers. But before responding to the feedback, you need to collect them.  There are multiple ways to collect feedback from your customers, but online surveys are topping the chart. Online surveys empower you with impactful, secure, and engaging surveys, resulting in higher and more genuine responses.

SurveySparrow is one such tool that masters the art of designing engaging surveys with assured results.

You can try it now for FREE!

5. Let Them Know You Care

Have you ever had a bad experience that ruined your whole day? If you have, then you can see why some of your customers might feel the same. So, even if you disagree with their reviews, you must tell them that you understand their frustrations. And who’s to know, if they left the feedback in anger, maybe they’ll even delete it once you address their issues!

6.  Resolutions Are The Way Ahead

It’s said that actions speak louder than words. So, rather than just telling your customers that you’ll do something to resolve the problems, why not just show them? And for this, you have to put down some measures to prevent a similar issue in the future. Simple, right? We think so!

7. Bring Out The Peace Offerings

Now, for the final point of customer retention.

It’s not out of this world to think that some customers would not be happy with your reassurances. And so, you may have to make some peace offerings. Here, you can offer them a gift card, complimentary services, a discount, or more such things. This way, your customers will feel rightly compensated.

Should You Always Respond To Negative Feedback?

We’ve now seen that there’s no way to avoid negative feedback. But does that mean you should respond to all of them? The answer is often a NO! However, it’s not that simple.

This is because when responding to negative reviews, there are a few things you must think of. And based on these, you may or may not reply to the feedback. So, here are some factors you must consider:

1. The Location Of The Reviews

Not all review sites are the same. So, depending on where your customers post their reviews, you can choose to respond or ignore them. For instance, if you run a restaurant, it’s good to respond to feedback on Yelp or Google Reviews. But you need not respond to all reviews on other sites. While responding to Yelp reviews is crucial for a restaurant, consider tailoring your approach based on review sites, including how to respond to Yelp reviews.

Personalized responses on such platforms enhance customer engagement and reputation.

2. What You’ve Got To Say

There is no point in responding to negative reviews just for the sake of it. So, if all you’ve got to say is a quick sorry, then you don’t need to respond to all feedback. However, if you can craft good responses to all of them, feel free to go nuts!

3. The Volume Of Reviews

If you’ve got tons of reviews on your company, then it’s hard to get back to each one of them. However, if you can take the time to reply to at least some of them, it’ll do your business a world of good!

Which Three Tips Are Suggested for Dealing with Negative Customer Feedback?

Now that you understand when and why you should respond to negative feedback, let’s look at some tips on how to respond.

Tip 1 – Listen and Empathize

Customers giving negative feedback are already distressed. So, the best thing for you to do is actively listen to what they have to say. Following this approach, make sure that the customers feel heard and understood.

Listen to their issues without interrupting and acknowledge their feelings.

Tip 2 – Respond Promptly and Professionally

Customers are the center of every business. Therefore, when a customer points out an issue, be sure to be there for them. Don’t wait! Address their issues as quickly as you can. This shows the customers that their issues are a priority to you.

Also, while prompt response is required, your approach should be professional. Be calm, courteous, and professional, regardless of how negative the feedback is.

Pro Tip: Avoid becoming defensive or argumentative.

Tip 3 – Resolve and Follow Up

Once you have clearly understood what the issues are, offer practical solutions to resolve them. This could be a refund, replacement, or any other appropriate action.

After resolving the issue, follow up with the customer to make sure that they are satisfied with the resolution. By closing the feedback loop, you are showing the customers that you value their insights and are committed to improving their experience.

Gathering Positive and Negative Feedback

Alright, now that you’ve mastered the art of responding to negative reviews, you’re all set for the next part – gathering them! So, let’s have a look at some ways you can get both negative and positive feedback on your business!

1. Long Surveys

If you’ve ever answered a survey form, you must know that the longer it is, the less attention you pay to each question. And so, long-form customer feedback surveys have short questions that do not need a lot of time.

2. In-App Reviews

Another way of collecting feedback is by asking customers to rate or review your apps. So, companies can provide in-app links to customer satisfaction surveys or just let them post reviews on various websites.

3. Phone Calls

Now, this is an oldie but a goodie! Here, companies can engage customers over the phone and ask them questions about their experiences. But that’s not all! This is also a good way of forming a more personal bond with your clients. And in doing so, you’ll have scored some customer retention points!

4. Email And Online Surveys

With the ease of technology, surveying has become more convenient. So, next time you want to get your customer surveys out, consider sending them through emails or online surveys.

Now, are you worried about getting stuck in the process? If so, you can always ask an expert like SurveySparrow to help you out! With their chat-like survey templates, you’ll soon receive tons of responses from your customers.

Here’s an example –

Flight Booking Template

5. Net Promoter Score

Finally, we have the net promoter score! As a crucial part of customer surveys, this can help you find out how happy your customers are. And all you have to do is ask them one question – how likely are you to recommend this company to your friends and family?

Depending on their answers, you can then know how satisfied they are on a scale of one to ten. What’s more, you can even recruit some experts like Typeform and SurveySparrow to create your own NPS templates! Isn’t that cool?

NPS Survey Template

Let’s Look At Some Negative Feedback Review Response Examples!

Is there a better way to learn than through examples? We doubt it! This is why we’ve put together some negative review response examples to guide you along the way.

But before we begin, we’d like to set the stage for you! In these examples, we’ve addressed three scenarios where you may have to respond to negative reviews. And while going through each of them, we’ll take a peek at how your response can vary.

So, let’s begin!

1. Scenario 1 – Restaurant Reviews

Imagine a customer review like this:

The music was too loud, and we couldn’t have a proper conversation. The food took too long to arrive even though it was delicious. But may not visit again!

How would you respond to something like this? Well, you can start by acknowledging that the customer’s experience could have been better. And you can even thank them for appreciating your food! Next, you can tell them exactly how you plan to make things right. And with that, you’ll have hit it out of the park!

So, in the end, your response can be something like this:

Hi, [Name]. Thank you for your feedback. We’re glad that you enjoyed the food. However, we’re really sorry that we did not meet your expectations this time. We do have an upstairs dining room where you can have some peace with your meal. We hope you’ll visit again so that you can get the kind of excellent service we are known for!

[Name – optional].

2. Scenario 2 – Hospitality Reviews

Now, let’s take a shot at the hotel industry. Consider a review that has both good and bad things to say:

We enjoyed the stay at the [Name of Hotel]. However, the place seemed a bit rundown. While the staff was friendly, we felt that the services could have been better.

In your response, it’d be wonderful to make a note of both the positives and the negatives. So, here’s how you can reply to a review like this.

Dear [Name], thank you for the positive and negative feedback. We are glad to know that the staff was friendly and your positive comments have been passed on to them. We’ve also discussed your concerns at length and will take better care of the premises.
[Name- optional].

3. Scenario 3 – Healthcare Reviews

Finally, let’s look at negative reviews examples for the healthcare industry.

Imagine a review that complains about a clinic’s services and wait time. In response, you may want to talk about the issues they raise directly. However, in this industry, revealing personal medical data is a big no! So, when crafting a response, here’s how you can frame it:

Hi [Name],
Due to privacy regulations, we cannot address the specifics of your case. But we want to assure you that we are committed to providing the best services. We apologize for the wait time at the clinic and have now hired a consultant to help reduce it. Please feel free to contact us at [email address] to discuss any more such issues!

[Name – optional]

This way, you’ll have shown them that you care about their issues without revealing too much! Pretty cool, right?

Wrapping Up…

If there’s one thing that can influence your company’s brand image, it’s online reviews. So, responding well to them is a crucial part of customer service. But if you’re unsure how to go about it, don’t worry! Now that you’re armed with this guide, you’re one step closer to mastering the skill of responding to negative reviews. And so, the next time you’re faced with such feedback, you’ll know what to do.

But hold on! Is that all there is to managing a brand image? Sadly, no. The truth is, responding well to negative feedback is only the tip of the iceberg!

The actual game lies in how you take those reviews and bring them to life. So, while you’re out there finishing off some clever responses, do make sure you also put the feedback to good use! This way, you’ll get to hold onto your customers and polish that shiny brand image! Talk about a win-win, right?

Kate Williams

Product Marketing Manager at SurveySparrow

Excels in empowering visionary companies through storytelling and strategic go-to-market planning. With extensive experience in product marketing and customer experience management, she is an accomplished author, podcast host, and mentor, sharing her expertise across diverse platforms and audiences.

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