June 7, 2024

How to Craft a Fast Response to a Bad Review

How to Craft a Fast Response to a Bad Review

From boosting your local SEO so that more people can find you, to increasing the number of customers who would be willing to try your brand, there are plenty of reasons why your business needs to respond to negative reviews.

Unfortunately, despite the clear benefits of review management, data shows that many businesses still lack a cohesive review response strategy in 2024, resulting in customers who receive late replies, ineffectual replies, or never receive replies at all. 

Don't let your business fall into the same trap. Instead, use this guide's tips, screenshots, and templates and create professional-sounding responses as quickly as the reviews roll in. It covers:

  • 8 best practices when writing a response to a bad review
  • Tips for replying to bad reviews by platform or industry/business type
  • Customizable negative review response templates and examples
  • FAQs about dealing with negative feedback from customers online 

How to respond to a negative review: 8 best practices

It's important to follow some established best practices when you respond to negative reviews or ratings from customers. These practices are to: 

  1. Greet the reviewer by name 
  2. Thank the negative reviewer for their feedback 
  3. Apologize for the customer's experience 
  4. Personalize the review response with details 
  5. Highlight your company's values 
  6. Try to move the conversation offline 
  7. Provide a prompt response to the reviewer 
  8. Track the right review sites and apps

Following these practices will enable your business to write review responses that sound professional, align with consumers' expectations, and reflect positively on your brand. 

Let's take a closer look at each strategy, and explore some ways you can incorporate them into your own responses. 

1. Greet the reviewer by name

an example of greeting a reviewer by name

Don't use a generic form of address like "Dear Customer" or "Dear Reviewer" when responding to negative reviews. Instead, it's better to use the customer's name, which shows both the original reviewer and potential customers that your business reads its online reviews carefully.

Using the reviewer's name is a small but important aspect of personalization, which we'll discuss in more depth later. First, here are some examples of ways to greet your reviewers:

  • "Hello [ Customer Name ], thanks for sharing your comments."
  • "Thank you, [ Customer Name ], for leaving [ Company Name ] a review."
  • "Hi [ Customer Name ], thank you for reviewing our business." 

2. Thank the reviewer for their feedback

an example of thanking a reviewer for feedback

When a customer takes the time to provide you with constructive feedback, it's important to acknowledge their effort and express gratitude for their review.

Thanking customers for bad reviews, instead of becoming defensive or argumentative, shows that your team members are courteous and professional. It also shows that your business is committed to learning from feedback and providing the best customer experience possible.

Here are some ways to thank a customer for a negative review:

  • "We're grateful for your detailed comments about your experience at [ Company Name ]."
  • "Thanks for sharing your feedback about your recent experience [ dining with us, touring our campus, viewing our luxury apartments, etc. ].” 
  • "Thank you for taking a moment to rate and review our business." 

3. Sincerely apologize for the negative experience

an example of apologizing to the reviewer

It's crucial to apologize to the dissatisfied customer for their negative experience with your business. Even if you disagree with their negative review, apologizing shows your professionalism and willingness to make things right with the customer.

Here are some examples of ways for a business owner to apologize to an upset customer:

  • "We're deeply sorry to hear about your disappointing experience, which doesn't reflect our high standards for customer satisfaction and service."
  • "Our team is sorry to hear that [ brief summary of issue from review ], and we sincerely apologize for any frustration this has caused you."
  • "We truly apologize for your negative experience visiting our [ type of business ]." 

4. Personalize your review response

Consumers expect personalized experiences and curated content, including when it comes to customer support. Personalizing your responses to negative reviews is essential to meeting consumer expectations and building a loyal customer community.

Personalization also allows you to incorporate keywords into your review responses, helping search engines and future customers find your local business. 

Here are some examples:

  • “We’re sorry to hear that your family’s tour of our luxury retirement community didn’t deliver the experience you hoped for.” 
  • “Your feedback about our tableside service helps us to improve our customers’ dining experience with us.” 
  • “Our mission is to provide our customers with nothing but the best Mexican cuisine Miami has to offer.” 

5. Highlight your brand's best features

an example of highlighting your brands features

A negative online review is a disguised opportunity to showcase your company's best features. Here are some examples that show how you can use a negative review response to educate — and attract — potential customers:

  • "At [ Company Name ], [ providing excellent customer service, providing 100% customer satisfaction, delivering unbeatable quality, etc. ] is our top priority."
  • "We constantly strive to deliver the best and most [ authentic, welcoming, luxurious, convenient, etc. ] experience possible for our valued [ guests, customers, residents, etc. ]."
  • "Delivering best-in-class [ patient care, craftsmanship, quality, etc. ] is our [ team's, company's, organization's, healthcare system's, etc. ] highest mission." 

6. Direct the conversation offline

an example of directing the conversation offline

A negative review can damage your brand reputation — but trying to settle issues publicly can damage it even more.

Instead of settling an argument or resolving a complaint in a public forum like Google, try to shift the conversation offline by providing the reviewer with contact information and encouraging them to reach out to your business directly. Here are some examples:

  • "We would be grateful for another opportunity to provide you with the exceptional service that [ Business Name ] is known for."
  • "Please reach out to our customer support team by calling [ phone number ] or messaging [ email address ] at your earliest convenience."
  • "Please contact us at [ contact information ], and a member of our team will be happy to help you get this issue resolved."

7. Respond to negative reviews quickly

It's best practice to respond to negative reviews in under 24 hours. In fact, 46% of consumers expect customer service response times of less than four hours, while 12% say they expect resolutions to their issues within just 15 minutes, according to one survey of roughly 3,200 participants. 

Research also shows that customers value "fast response times" over "knowledgeable staff," easy-to-use customer support tools, or even the ability to speak with a live representative.

In short, the sooner the business owner can respond to a negative comment, the higher the likelihood of retaining the customer.

If your business struggles to respond to customer reviews in a timely manner—or if you simply want to shorten your average response time—consider using AI to generate review responses automatically. 

This can be especially beneficial for large companies or multi-location businesses, which need scalable, efficient ways to manage a high volume of reviews. 

Explore some of the best AI tools for review management, like Shout About Us and Response Scribe.

8. Monitor the right review sites

First, you need to know which review sites to monitor for your industry. For example, if you're a car dealer, you should monitor auto industry review platforms like Edmunds, Cars.com, and DealerRater.

Second, you need to ensure that you have the appropriate alerts and notifications enabled. Taking this step will help prevent negative reviews from slipping through the cracks and going unaddressed.

Third, consider using an online reputation management tool to help you analyze customer feedback and automate the review monitoring process. 

By implementing these best practices, you will not only be better equipped to respond to negative reviews but also gain more control over your online reputation. This will make it easier to attract potential customers and acquire positive reviews for your business. 

How to respond to bad reviews on specific platforms

Regardless of whether you’re responding to negative reviews on Google, Yelp, or any other review site, it’s always a good idea to follow the best practices we outlined earlier in this guide, like thanking your reviewers for their feedback and personalizing each of your responses. 

That said, it’s still useful for business owners to see negative review response examples from various platforms—especially Yelp, Facebook, and Google, which are the three most popular review sites as of 2024.

The screenshots below will give you an idea of how each platform organizes reviews — and how businesses respond to negative feedback on each platform.

Responding to negative Google reviews 

You can list your business on Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) for free. Listing your business enables customers to leave Google reviews, lets your business respond to customer feedback (including Q&As), and allows you to share further details about your company, like its hours and location. 

an example of responding to negative google reviews

Reviewers can rate businesses one to five stars and leave an optional comment about their experience. Google automatically generates review summaries with customer highlights, plus relevant tags like "lease" or "waiting area" that frequently appear in reviews.

 

an example of responding to negative google reviews 2

Google review response example: “Thanks for taking the time to share your comments with us, [ Customer Name ]. We sincerely apologize for the [ scheduling, payment, customer service, etc. ] issue and any frustration that you experienced as a result. Our intention is always to provide our valued customers with [ the best, top-notch, exceptional, etc. ] [ value, convenience, quality ] when it comes to [ type of product or service ], and we’re sorry to hear that your experience didn’t meet our high standards. We’re here to help resolve your concerns and encourage you to contact our customer support team directly at your earliest convenience. We look forward to hearing more from you soon!”

Learn how to add multiple business locations to Google. For technical support, you can also check out Google's step-by-step instructions for publishing a review response. 

Responding to negative Facebook reviews

Instead of traditional online reviews, Facebook has adopted a system where users can “recommend” a business: 

an example of responding to negative facebook reviews

Facebook business reviews are now available exclusively on mobile, as the platform's help center explains: 

how to see reviews on facebook

To start replying to Facebook reviews, follow the platform's instructions based on what type of device you're using: iPhone, Android, Facebook Lite, or the mobile browser. Be sure to follow the best practices discussed in this guide and obey the platform's Community Standards to avoid having your responses reported.  

To help guide you, here's an example of one company's response to a bad review on Facebook: 

an example of responding to negative facebook review

Facebook review response example: "Hello [ Customer Name ], thanks for sharing your feedback. We at [ Business Name ] are truly sorry to hear that your recent [ service, sales, oil change, tyre change, etc. ] experience was not up to par. We value our customers and want to ensure they leave our [ type of business ] feeling 100% satisfied. Please contact us directly at [ phone number or email address ] at a time that's convenient for you so that our team can learn more about your experience and work to provide a resolution for you. Thanks in advance for your time, and we look forward to hearing from you soon."  

Responding to negative Yelp reviews

Yelp is one of the leading review sites for any industry or type of business. According to Brightlocal research, 44% of consumers used Yelp to find reviews of businesses in 2023 — only a fraction less than Facebook's 45%. 

an example of responding to negative yelp reviews

Similar to Google, Yelp also allows businesses to set relevant "attributes" that help customers find organizations with specific amenities, features, or other qualities: 

yelp categories

Yelp allows customers to leave detailed reviews, which businesses may respond to but not delete or pay to remove. Of course, your business should report any negative review that violates Yelp's guidelines, which will result in the investigation and potential removal of the review. 

Here's an example of one restaurant's approach to negative Yelp reviews

an example of responding to negative yelp reviews

Yelp review response example: "Hello [ Customer Name ], thanks for sharing your detailed comments and leaving us a rating. We're sorry to hear that your [ type of product or service ] didn't meet your expectations during your recent visit to our [ Town or City ] location. At [ Business Name ], we always strive to [ use the freshest and most authentic ingredients, create a luxurious experience for visitors, make our residents feel welcome, deliver the absolute best in quality, etc. ], and we truly apologize for falling short of that standard. Your feedback is sincerely appreciated, as it helps our team grow and improve. We hope that [ you'll consider reaching out to us, we'll have another opportunity to serve you again soon, etc. ] so that we can make sure you have a positive experience going forward. Thanks again for reviewing [ Business Name ]." 

Responding to negative reviews on industry-specific platforms 

Some examples of industry-specific review sites include Angi (for home services), Zocdoc (for healthcare), OpenTable (for bars and restaurants), and ApartmentFinder (for real estate). 

angi

Before responding to negative reviews on any of these platforms, familiarize yourself with its community guidelines. Taking this step will not only help you obey site rules (and avoid having your content removed), but also make it easier for you to identify and report negative reviews that violate the rules, giving you more control over your reputation. 

How to respond to negative reviews for your industry 

From customer complaints about slow or unfriendly service, to negative reviews about product pricing or quality, all industries and businesses are vulnerable to online criticism. Some common themes of negative online reviews include:

  • Lack of pricing transparency
  • Poor customer service
  • Product failures or breakdowns
  • Difficulty scheduling appointments, cancelling subscriptions, or contacting representatives

Additionally, some industries are susceptible to specific types of customer complaints. For example, hotels and apartments often receive complaints regarding noise, maintenance, or pests, while negative restaurant reviews frequently involve portion size, the waitstaff’s service, or food quality.

No matter what type of business you operate — or what sort of issue your customer is experiencing — the negative review response templates below will help you communicate with your reviewers effectively.

Along with the response templates, we've also included:

  • Industry-specific review sites your business should be monitoring
  • Industry-specific examples of Google business categories, which will help you optimize your business listing so that customers can find you

Here are the industries we'll be covering:

  • Home services
  • Food and beverage
  • Automotive
  • Real estate
  • Hospitality
  • Healthcare
  • Dental  

Home services 

The home services industry includes plumbers, electricians, HVAC services, roofing services, professional cleaners, and more.

Some examples of Google business categories that might be applicable include: 

  • Heating contractor
  • Electrical installation service
  • Air conditioning repair service
  • Lawn care service 

Some key review sites that businesses and contractors in the home services industry should monitor include: 

  • Angi
  • HomeAdvisor
  • Houzz
  • Thumbtack 

an example of responding to negative home service reviews

 

Type of customer issue: Dissatisfaction with customer service, lack of clear communication

Review response template: “Hello [ Customer Name ], my name is [ First Name ] and [ I’m the manager, I’m part of the customer service team, etc. ] here at [ Company Name ]. I’m so sorry to hear about the issues you experienced with your [ A/C installation, deck repairs, free project estimate, etc. ] and want to apologize for any miscommunication about [ description of issue from original review ]. While unforeseen circumstances sometimes impact [ installations, construction, project timelines, etc. ], providing excellent customer service is always our top priority. We would value an opportunity to make this right with you, and encourage you to reach out at [ contact information ]. I look forward to speaking more with you soon, [ Customer Name ].” 

Food and beverage 

The food and beverage industry includes sit-down and take-out restaurants, bars, cafes, coffeeshops, bakeries, and more. 

Examples of relevant Google business categories include: 

  • Bagel shop 
  • Mexican restaurant 
  • Pastry shop 
  • Pizza delivery 
  • Sports bar 

Top review platforms for restaurants or other food and beverage businesses include: 

  • Tripadvisor
  • Yelp
  • Foursquare
  • The Infatuation
  • OpenTable  
an example of responding to negative food reviews

Type of customer issue: Unexpected charges on bill, dissatisfaction with service 

Review response template: “Thank you, [ Reviewer Name ], for bringing your review to our team's attention. We deeply regret the inconvenience, and we understand the frustration you experienced as a result of this issue. At [ Company Name ], we strive for total customer satisfaction, and your detailed feedback helps us to improve. We hope we'll have the opportunity to serve you again soon and make sure you receive the 5-star service we're known for. Thanks again for your review.” 

Automotive 

The automotive industry includes dealerships, auto repair shops, car washes, oil change services, and more.

Some examples of pertinent business categories on Google include:

  • Auto body shop
  • Auto parts store
  • BMW dealer
  • Car wash
  • Used car dealer

Must-watch review platforms for the automotive industry include:

  • CarGurus
  • Cars.com
  • DealerRater
  • Edmunds
an example of responding to negative automotve reviews

 

Type of customer issue: Administrative error by business, poor customer service 

Review response template: “Hi, [ Customer Name ], thank you for leaving us a review and rating. We apologize for the issue you experienced with your vehicle, which falls far below our high standards for excellent customer service. We want to reassure you that our team is taking all necessary measures to address the process that led to this issue, and that we're committed to restoring your confidence in our dealership. Please reach out to us directly at [ contact information ] so that we can discuss this further. Thanks in advance, [ Customer Name ], for your valuable time.” 

Real estate 

The real estate industry includes realtors, landlords, apartment rental companies and rental offices, senior living communities, luxury townhouses, and more.

Examples of pertinent business categories on Google include:

  • Apartment building
  • Apartment complex
  • Apartment rental agency
  • Holiday apartment rental
  • Townhouse complex 

Must-watch review platforms for real estate professionals include: 

  • ApartmentFinder
  • Apartments.com
  • Rent.com
  • StreetEasy
  • Zillow
an example of responding to negative real estate reviews

 

Type of customer issue: Poor customer service, negative experience touring the property 

Review response template: “Hi [ Reviewer Name ], thank you for taking the time to let us know about your tour of [ Community Name ]. We truly regret to hear that you had a dissatisfying experience and are sorry that you didn't receive the friendly welcome you expected. We want to make this right with you and would greatly appreciate the chance to speak with you further about your tour. Please contact our property management team at [ phone number or email address ] at your earliest convenience. We look forward to speaking with you!” 

Hospitality 

The hospitality industry includes hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts, inns, and more.

Some examples of relevant Google business categories include:

  • Capsule hotel
  • Extended stay hotel
  • Guest house
  • Resort hotel

Examples of relevant review platforms include:

  • Expedia
  • Orbitz
  • Travelocity
  • Tripadvisor
  • Trivago
an example of responding to negative hospitality reviews

 

Type of customer issue: Complaints about room cleanliness, food quality, and pricing 

Review response template: “Hi [ Customer Name ], thank you for your review. We genuinely apologize for the oversights you experienced during your stay with us. Please know that this does not reflect the high standards we continuously strive to meet, and that your concerns are being addressed with our team. Please contact us directly at [ phone number or email address ] so that we can discuss your experience further and work to get this resolved. We take your feedback seriously and are eager to earn back your trust in our brand."  

Healthcare

The healthcare industry includes hospitals, inpatient and outpatient clinics, pediatricians, therapists, rehabilitation centers, and more.

Some examples of Google business categories within the healthcare industry include:

  • General hospital
  • Medical clinic
  • Medical group
  • Mental health clinic
  • Private hospital

Here are some essential review platforms for medical facilities and healthcare providers to monitor:

  • Healthgrades
  • RateMDs
  • WebMD
  • Vitals
  • Yelp
  • Zocdoc 
an example of responding to negative healthcare reviews

 

Type of patient issue: Difficulty scheduling appointment, lack of clear communication with patient 

Review response template: ““Thank you for sharing your rating and review with us, [ Reviewer Name ]. We're sorry that your experience didn't align with your expectations. We value all feedback we receive from our patients, and would appreciate an opportunity to learn more about your experience. Please reach out to us directly at [ contact information ] so that we can discuss this matter with you in more detail. Thanks in advance for your time, [ Reviewer Name ], and we look forward to hearing from you soon.” 

Dental

The dental industry includes a variety of practices, such as general dentists, orthodontists, and cosmetic dentists.

Some examples of relevant Google business categories include, but aren't limited to:

  • Dental clinic
  • Dental hygienist
  • Dental implants provider
  • Emergency dental service
  • Orthodonist

Some of the best review sites for dentists to monitor in 2024 include:

  • 1-800-DENTIST
  • Dentistry.com
  • Vitals
  • Yahoo Locals
  • Yelp
  • Zocdoc 
an example of responding to negative dental reviews

 

Type of patient issue: Lack of professionalism by staff, dissatisfaction with patient care or patient services 

Review response template:  "Thank you, [ Reviewer Name ], for taking the time to bring your review to our attention. On behalf of our entire office, I'd like to extend our sincere apologies for your recent experience. At [ Practice Name ], we continuously strive to deliver an outstanding patient experience, and we would value the opportunity to learn more so that we can provide a resolution. Please contact us at [ phone number or email address ] at your earliest convenience, and our office manager, [ Manager Name ], will reach out to you shortly. Thank you again for your comments, [ Reviewer Name ], and we look forward to hearing from you soon." 

How to respond to negative reviews easily on all platforms

Responding to reviews yields major rewards for your business, like increasing customer loyalty, boosting your local search rankings, and building a sense of trust and credibility around your brand.

The problem is that it's also time-consuming — time that your growing business can't spare.

Response Scribe provides a solution by delivering customized, on-brand review responses directly to your customers on over 50 platforms, from popular review sites like Google to niche industry platforms like Vitals. We take care of the writing and publishing for you, eliminating the need to generate your own responses.

Choose between AI-generated content, human-written content, or a hybrid strategy that blends both approaches. 

With 10+ years of experience responding to millions of reviews, you can feel secure that your brand's reputation is in skilled hands. But you don't have to take our word for it: you can review every proposed response before it gets published and request unlimited revisions, ensuring every word aligns with your messaging strategy.

Not sure which plan is best for your business? Don't worry: you can cancel or upgrade your plan any time, with no hidden fees or long-term contracts.

Whether your business is large or small, Response Scribe brings total simplicity to online reputation management. Compare pricing to find the right plan for your needs, or learn about the perks of becoming a partner.

We respond to negative reviews on 50+ review sites 

Deliver fast, personalized, professional review responses that align with your messaging and get customers engaged. ResponseScribe makes it effortless by automating all of your review management tasks, from monitoring 50+ platforms to providing review insights and reporting.   

Get started with a free demo today, and discover why over 10,000 businesses trust Response Scribe to protect their brand reputation.

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