Publish Date:
March 22, 2024

How to Respond to a 1 Star Review on Google

This guide for business owners covers the basics of Google review management, from how to respond to customers online to techniques for getting more reviews.

Negative reviews damage your business because they discourage potential customers from trying your brand.

Ignoring bad reviews might seem like the safest option, but it actually makes the situation worse by creating the impression of indifference toward customer feedback. It's equally bad to respond with a defensive tone, which makes your business look hostile and unhelpful to customers.

The right way to handle a 1-star review is to provide a prompt, courteous, and professional response. This approach has two advantages, it:

  1. Paves the way for a phone call or email conversation where the issue can be resolved, potentially preventing the loss of a customer.
  2. Shows the people browsing your reviews that your company provides helpful, friendly customer service.

So how do you get started?

This guide will teach you how to respond to negative reviews, such as 1 star ratings, on Google and other platforms. 

It covers tips and techniques for responding, explains some common reasons for poor reviews, provides modifiable review response templates for your business, and answers FAQs about dealing with negative feedback online. 

Why do people leave 1 star reviews and ratings on Google?

There are numerous reasons why customers leave negative reviews like 1 star ratings on Google and other platforms, from dissatisfaction with customer service to problems involving your wi-fi or parking. 

Below are some common customer complaints and issues that can lead to poor reviews. From poor customer service, and health concerns to pricing issues and noise.

reasons why people leave 1 star reviews

Should you respond to every 1 star review on Google? 

Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to respond to as many of your reviews as possible. It’s especially important to respond to 1 star ratings, since ignoring negative reviews can give the impression that your business is inattentive or indifferent to the needs of its customers.

With that in mind, there are some situations where you may want to think twice about responding. For example, it’s best to simply flag reviews that contain offensive content, which is prohibited by Google and may result in their removal. You should also flag reviews that are obviously spam. 

How to respond to a 1 star review on Google: a step-by-step guide with real world examples 

Responding to negative reviews can be significantly more challenging than responding to positive reviewsand there's more at stake for your business.

To help you get started, we created this step-by-step guide for responding to bad Google reviews, which includes modifiable response templates along with real examples of business responses. Here are the steps we'll be covering:  

  1. Thank the reviewer for their valuable feedback.
  2. Sincerely apologize for the customer's experience.
  3. Empathize with the upset customer.
  4. Mention something positive about your business.
  5. Move the conversation offline.
  6. Provide the customer with appropriate contact information.
  7. Add a personal touch to each review response.
  8. If necessary, politely verify that the reviewer is an actual customer. 

Step 1: Thank the customer for their feedback

We get it: it's hard to feel grateful for a bad review. All the same, it's important to thank your reviewers for sharing their feedback with you. 

When you express gratitude for negative online reviews, you signal that you respect your customers and appreciate their insights. Plus, thanking reviewers is an easy way to show that your business provides courteous customer service. 

a one star review example
response to the one star review

Here are a few examples:

  • "Thanks for taking the time to share your comments with our team, [ Reviewer Name ]."
  • "Thank you for leaving us a review, [ Reviewer Name ]."
  • "Hi [ Reviewer Name ], thank you for providing feedback about your experience." 

Step 2: Apologize for the negative experience

Apologizing to unhappy customers is an essential part of responding effectively to negative reviews. 

Even if you disagree with the reviewer's point of view, you still need to acknowledge the customer's experience and apologize for the frustration or disappointment they felt.

one star review example 2 with a response

Here are some ways to apologize for a disappointing or frustrating experience:

  • "Our team is deeply sorry to hear about your recent visit to our [ City Name ] location."
  • "We want to sincerely apologize for the inconvenience that you and your family experienced."
  • "We'd like to offer our sincere apologies for any miscommunication that might have occurred.”

Step 3: Empathize with the customer

Empathizing with the customer will make your apology feel more meaningful and sincere. Try to imagine the situation from the customer's perspective, and assure them that you understand their concerns. 

By empathizing with the reviewer, you can help put the customer's mind at ease and defuse some of the anger or frustration they're likely feeling. 

one star review example 3 with a response

Here are some examples of how to empathize with customers when responding to reviews: 

  • “We understand your frustration with the level of service you received from our team.”
  • “We understand your disappointment with this experience and want to assure you that our team is investigating carefully.”
  • “We know how frustrating it can be when [ reference to issue in original review ].”

Step 4:  Mention positive details about your brand

When you respond to a negative review, it’s an opportunity to subtly promote the best qualities of your brand to potential customers. 

While your response should be focused on apologizing to and assisting the reviewer, you can also incorporate references to your corporate values, the superior quality of your product, or other points that will appeal to your target demographic. 

one star review example 4
response to a one star review

Here are some ways to incorporate positive details about your brand into your 1 star review responses:

  • "At [ Business Name ], our goal is to provide exceptional service to our customers."
  • "We strive to complete every project with exceptional attention to detail, quality, and craftsmanship."
  • "Here at [ Business Name ], it’s our mission to ensure that every customer has a 5 star experience."

Step 5: Move the conversation offline 

The purpose of responding to a bad review isn't to prove the customer wrong or settle a dispute — on the contrary, your goal is to start a conversation. However, that conversation should take place in person, via direct message, or by phone call — not on a public forum like Google Maps.

Encourage your reviewers to reach out to your team so that you can help them resolve their concerns and earn back their customer loyalty. Not only will this help you reduce customer churn, it also shows potential customers that your business provides high-quality support. 

one star review example 5 with a response

Here are some ways to begin moving the conversation offline:  

  • “Please be assured that our team is here to help get this resolved for you.” 
  • “Our customer service representatives would be glad to assist you with this matter.” 
  • “We’re committed to customer satisfaction and want to ensure we address your concerns promptly.” 

Step 6: Provide contact information

Make contacting your business as easy and convenient as possible for the customer by providing them with the appropriate phone number, email address, or other contact information. 

one star review example 6 with a response

Here are some ways to include your contact information in your response: 

  • “We would greatly appreciate it if you could please contact our customer service team by calling [ phone number ] or messaging [ email address ] at your earliest convenience.” 
  • “We encourage you to contact us directly at [ phone number or email address ] so that we can work to get this issue resolved for you.” 
  • “Please reach out to us at [ phone number or email address ] at your earliest convenience, and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.” 

As an alternative, you can also include your contact information directly within your signature. 

one star review example 7 with a response

Bonus tip: Remember to personalize each response

According to McKinsey & Company, “Companies with faster growth rates derive 40% more of their revenue from personalization than their slower-growing counterparts.” Its research has also revealed that “personalized experiences drive up both customer loyalty and a company's gross sales.” 

Considering the impacts that customized experiences have on consumers, it’s vital to personalize your responses to all reviews you receive.

one star review example 8
one star review example 8 response

Here are some techniques you can use to personalize your negative review responses:

  • Address the reviewer by name (unless they’ve chosen to remain anonymous)
  • Reference your company name and/or the geographic region you serve 
  • Reference a specific detail from the original review, like the “Taco Tuesday buffet” detail in the example screenshot above 
  • Vary the language you use in each response, like “we’re sorry” vs. “we apologize,” or “outstanding” vs. “exceptional.” 

How to respond to a 1 star review of the wrong business

What should you do when a customer accidentally reviews the wrong business? 

For example, what if you don't recognize the reviewer's name and can't find them in your records? 

one star review example 9 with a response

If you think a reviewer might have your business confused with another company, you should respond to their review and politely ask them to contact you directly. Here are some ways you can phrase your request:

  • "We would appreciate the opportunity to help get this resolved for you. However, we’re having difficulty locating you in our system. Please reach out to us directly at [ phone number or email address ] so that we may assist you more efficiently.”
  • "We appreciate your review. However, we’re unable to locate a record of your transaction in our system. Please contact our customer service team at [ phone number or email address ] so that we can learn more about your experience and provide you with further assistance.” 

Here's the takeaway for business owners: by maintaining professionalism, personalizing your responses, and responding in a timely manner, you can open the door to productive conversations with dissatisfied customers. 

This enables you to minimize customer churn, improve your brand's online reputation, and promote your business to potential customers.

Can you remove a bad review on Google?

Google will not remove a review simply because the review is negative. However, business owners can flag reviews that break the platform’s rules, which may result in their removal. 

To flag reviews effectively, you need to be familiar with Google’s guidelines, which specify what sort of content is — and isn’t — allowed to be shared. 

To give one example, Google prohibits “deceptive content and behavior,” including fake reviews, which fall under the category of “fake engagement.” According to Google Support, this includes (but isn’t limited to) examples like: 

  • “Paying, incentivising or encouraging the posting of content that does not represent a genuine experience”
  • “Content that has been posted by a competitor to undermine a business or product’s reputation” 
  • “Merchant requests for revision or removal of a negative review through offered discounts, free goods or services, or other incentives” 

Under these rules, if you think your business is being attacked with fake negative reviews (such as a competitor spamming you with 1 star ratings), you should flag them for removal. 

However, you should not pay or reward reviewers to remove or alter negative ratings they’ve already left for you. 

how to flag a google review

Even if they’re totally authentic, negative reviews can also be flagged for removal if they contain “inappropriate content.” For example, Google prohibits: 

  • Hate speech
  • Obscenity and profanity 
  • Off-topic content, including “content which contains general, political, or social commentary or personal rants” 
  • Offensive content, including “unsubstantiated allegations of unethical behavior or criminal wrongdoing” 

The takeaway? If a negative review is fake, or contains inappropriate content like profanity, it meets Google’s criteria for flagging and removal. 

How to easily manage bad reviews on Google and other review sites

On one hand, your business needs to monitor and respond to reviews — but on the other, responding to reviews demands time and resources your team can’t always spare. 

That’s especially true for businesses with multiple locations, which can easily receive hundreds of new reviews every month.It’s simply not efficient for growing businesses to reply to reviews manually. 

ResponseScribe offers a time-saving alternative by automating every step of the process for you, making it effortless to build positive customer relationships. 

We track reviews on 50+ platforms and create custom-made, on-brand responses tailored to your brand, customers, and industry. Choose an AI-assisted response strategy, or work with a dedicated responder from our team of professional writers — either way, your customers will receive personalized replies within hours of reviewing your business.

You can be as hands-off or involved in the process as you like, with the option to approve and edit all responses via text or email. You'll also receive business insight reports, enabling you to make data-driven decisions.

We offer transparent, flexible pricing to fit your company’s needs, with three different plans to choose from. Upgrade, downgrade, or cancel at any time with no surprise fees and no locked-in contracts. 

Learn more about how ResponseScribe can help you grow your business and eliminate the hassle of responding to bad reviews.

a review response service for one star google reviews

Improve your online reputation with a negative review response service 

Responding to reviews doesn’t have to be time-consuming. ResponseScribe makes it fast, easy, and cost-efficient by monitoring 50+ review platforms and providing personalized responses to your reviewers within just minutes to hours.

Streamline your review management process while boosting your brand’s reputation and visibility. Get started with ResponseScribe for your small, midsize, or large business today.

FAQs

What should you do when you get negative online reviews?

It’s important to respond in a timely and professional manner when your business receives negative feedback on Google or other platforms. When crafting your reply, follow the review response techniques covered in this guide, like thanking the reviewer for their feedback, apologizing for the negative experience, and encouraging the unhappy customer to contact your business directly for assistance.

How do you dispute a 1 star review on Google?

Google Support instructs business owners to “report only reviews that violate Google policies,” and explicitly warns against “report[ing] a review just because you disagree with it or don't like it.” If you feel that a negative review of your business violates Google’s terms of service, you can dispute it by flagging the review as inappropriate. You can flag an inappropriate negative review from Google Maps, Google Search, or your Google Business Profile account.

How do you get rid of fake 1 star Google reviews?

You can flag 1 star reviews for removal if you believe they are inauthentic or contain inappropriate content. There are three ways to flag a review for removal: by using Google Search, Google Maps, or Google’s Reviews Management Tool. Alternatively, you can use a review removal service like Shout About Us to help manage your online reviews automatically. You can find step-by-step instructions for flagging Google reviews in the section of this guide titled "Can you remove a bad review on Google?"

How should you respond to a review where the user has left a 1 star rating with no additional feedback?

Here's an example of how to respond to a negative rating without any text: "Thank you for taking a moment to rate [ Company Name ], [ Reviewer Name ]. We're sorry to see that our brand didn't meet your expectations. We would value an opportunity to learn more details about your experience so that we can work to increase your satisfaction. We encourage you to contact us at your earliest convenience at [ phone number or email address ], and one of our customer service representatives will be happy to assist you."

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