guestXM – by Black Box Intelligence

How to Respond to a Negative Customer Review

In this article we’ll provide you with some guidelines to help you respond to negative reviews like a pro!

In this digital age, reviews are everything for your business. Latest studies show that up to 97% of people aged 18-34 check online reviews before visiting a new restaurant, cafe, or hotel. And almost 90% of people pay attention to how business owners respond to reviews.

By replying to negative reviews, a company shows that it cares about the customer’s opinion and that it will use this feedback to improve where necessary. But dealing with these reviews properly can be an art in and of itself. That’s why in this article we’ll provide you with some guidelines that will help you respond to negative reviews like a pro!

Mastering the Art of Responding to Negative Reviews in the Digital Age – This is how it’s done

1. Apologize

The first thing you should do when you’re replying to negative reviews is to offer an apology. Understandably so, it can be pretty difficult to avoid taking it personally when someone has just left a negative review about their experience at your business. But it’s crucial to understand that the only way a customer will feel heard and understood is if you offer a sincere apology. Try to sympathize with the concerns of a customer as much as you can, even if you feel like their negative experience was not your fault.

Did you know that negative reviews left unanswered can cost your business on average 30 customers per day?

2. Turn the situation around

Show the writer of the review and other potential customers that you hold yourself to high standards. It has to be clear that whatever happened is not the usual course of events. Doing this assures future customers that they won’t be confronted with the same negative experience the reviewer wrote about.

Some examples:

  • I’m very sorry to hear about your bad experience, Oliver. We’re normally known for our excellent service so we’ll take your comment into great consideration!
  • Great that you got in touch, Peter. Our business places tremendous importance on the quality of our food so we won’t disappoint next time you visit us!

3. Consider a concession

In case you feel that the comments from the reviewer are justified, consider offering them a concession. By compensating them for their time or money, you increase the likelihood of keeping the reviewer as a customer. If you’re willing to go the extra mile by offering the reviewer an extra incentive to visit your business again, you may avoid losing that customer forever.

Some examples:

  • Hey Tim! We’re very sorry to hear about your cold pizza. You’ll receive a 20% discount on your next purchase. 🙂
  • Thanks for the feedback, Rachel. You’re more than welcome to ask for a free drink next time you visit our restaurant!


P.S.: By responding to negative reviews you increase the probability that the reviewer will change his opinion and remove the review. They might even change it to a positive one! This, in turn, will improve your review site rankings.

4. Continue the conversation offline

Offering the reviewer the possibility to continue the conversation offline can be a tremendous help when dealing with negative reviews. Not only can you prevent an ongoing back and forth with the reviewer and your business, but this also indicates that you are willing to spend the time necessary to deal with the complaint of your customer.

This tip also applies to offering concessions, which was discussed in the previous point. If you feel like the reviewer is entitled to free consumption, be sure to let him or her know offline or do it privately. This way you avoid other people leaving negative comments to get free stuff from your business!

Some examples:

  • Please reach out to Howard at He will be more than welcome to help you out!
  • Thanks for your feedback. Please email me at so we can discuss this further.


5. Don’t mention the business name

If you’ve already read our previous article regarding best practices for responding to positive reviews, this fifth guideline will make great sense to you. By mentioning your business name in your response, you increase the likelihood of it popping up when people search for your company online. While this can be a very good thing when it concerns a positive review, you don’t want this to happen when the review is negative. This will only evoke negative feelings towards your business.

6. Thank your customer for the review

It might seem counterintuitive but thanking a customer who left a negative review is a great strategy. Although the customer had a bad experience at your business (and shared this with the rest of the world) he or she gave you the possibility to grow! Genuine feedback like this is something that should be appreciated.

Keep in mind that while most customers don’t leave reviews, this customer took time out of their day to tell you about his or her (negative) experience! Also, by saying thank you, you show customers that you welcome feedback regardless of its sentiment. This will likely generate extra reviews for your business which, in turn, spreads the word and improves your online reputation!

Some examples:

  • Hey Sandra! Thank you for your feedback. We’re truly sorry to hear of your bad experience this time. We promise to do better next time!
  • Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Mark. We’ll use your feedback to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.


Now that you’ve got the fundamentals, here are a few extras to make sure your responses are top-notch every time!

  • Keep it short and sweet. No need to write a full-length essay as a response to negative reviews. By keeping things short you avoid upsetting the customer any further.
  • Make it personal. Sign off with your real name to humanize your response. When there’s a real person on the other side, it decreases the likelihood of further negative reactions from the reviewer.
  • Respond quickly. Don’t wait too long before responding to your incoming reviews. This will make sure your customers know you care about their experiences and feedback.


9 out of 10 potential customers check reviews before visiting a restaurant or ordering on delivery. Ensure your online presence delivers an experience that aligns with your brand standards and guest expectations. Download The Ultimate Google Business Playbook for Restaurant Marketing to get started today!

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