April 23, 2024

How to Craft a Good Response to a Customer Complaint on a Review Site

How to Craft a Good Response to a Customer Complaint on a Review Site 

These days, most business reviews – whether positive or negative – are shared publicly using platforms like Yelp, Google, Facebook, and Tripadvisor. 

When a reviewer shares a complaint about your business online, it’s crucial to respond appropriately; otherwise, you risk alienating potential customers and holding back your brand’s growth. 

Another advantage of responding to customer complaints is that it makes consumers more likely to choose your business. According to data from Brightlocal, a higher percentage of consumers say they’d consider using a business that responds to both positive and negative reviews, compared to a business that only responds to one or the other.

The question is, what should you say in your reply? How do you maintain a professional tone that encourages a positive outcome? And how can you optimize the efficiency of your overall response strategy? 

This guide answers all of those questions. Read on to learn how to write the perfect response to a customer complaint on Google, Yelp, or any other platform.

How to effectively reply to customer complaints on review sites 

Each reply you write should be tailored to the customer complaint. 

However, while your replies should be as unique as your reviews, there are still some basic rules of thumb you should always strive to follow. 

Here are seven methods to deal successfully with online customer complaints: 

  1. Use the customer’s name in your reply
  2. Sincerely apologize and empathize with the customer’s feelings
  3. Reference specific details from the review 
  4. Say that you’re working toward a solution to the customer’s issue 
  5. Incorporate positive language about your brand into your reply 
  6. Encourage the customer to contact your support team for further assistance 
  7. Reply to every review within a reasonable time frame 

Following these best practices will help your team produce more professional and effective replies to customer complaints on review sites like Yelp

Let’s take a closer look at each one, including example screenshots and review response templates your business can use.

1. Use the reviewer's name 

an example of  an owner using the reviewer's name in a response to a review

Why it matters: Using the customer's name (or username, where applicable) is an easy but effective way to increase the amount of personalization in each of your review replies. 

Of course, you can omit the name if the reviewer is anonymous.

How to do it: “Hi [Customer Name], thanks for taking the time to share your review with our team.” 

More templates: 

  • “Thank you, [Customer Name], for taking a moment to provide us with your valuable feedback.” 
  • “Thank you for rating and reviewing our business, [Customer Name].”  

2. Apologize 

an example of  an owner apologizing in a response to a review

Why it matters: Apologizing shows that you empathize with the customer’s situation and are taking ownership of their negative experience. 

Offering an apology can also help de-escalate the customer’s emotions and pave the way for a smoother offline conversation. 

How to do it: “We sincerely apologize for the [inconvenience, disappointment, frustration] you experienced during your recent [visit, stay, appointment, phone call].” 

More templates: 

  • “We’re deeply sorry to hear about the disappointing service that you received during your last [visit, stay, appointment, phone call].” 
  • “Our team is truly sorry for the inconvenience caused by this [delay, misunderstanding, miscommunication].” 

3. Address specific details 

an example of  an owner addressing specific details n in a response to a review

Why it matters: Customers expect personalization in 2024. That means it’s essential to customize every response you write to online feedback. 

Even if you’re responding to a rating with no comment, you can still personalize your reply by using the reviewer’s name and addressing the number of stars you received. 

How to do it: “We’re glad to hear that [positive elements from the review], but are sorry that other aspects of your experience weren’t as satisfactory. It’s our intent to ensure that [homeowners, residents, diners, visitors] can trust the quality of our [repairs, maintenance, food, products].” 

More templates: 

  • “We completely understand your concerns about [customer issue here].” 
  • “We value your feedback about the [customer issue here] and take this matter seriously.” 

4. Propose a solution 

an example of  an owner proposing a solution to a responsee in a response to a review

Why it matters: Apologizing is essential – but without meaningful action to support it, even the best apology is meaningless from a customer’s point of view. 

After apologizing to the reviewer, emphasize that your customer service agents want to help get their issue fully resolved.  

How to do it: “We want to take every step we can to make this up to you and deliver the outstanding experience our valued customers deserve. We hope you’ll consider contacting our customer support team so that we can ensure you receive [prompt assistance, help with your issue, a discount coupon, a coupon code].” 

More response templates: 

  • “Please be assured that our team is here to help get this resolved for you. We encourage you to contact us directly at [phone number] or [email address] so that we can provide you with [prompt assistance, immediate assistance, a detailed status update, answers to your follow up questions].” 
  • “We want our customers to have the best experience possible. Please reach out to us at [email address] or [phone number] so that our team can work toward a resolution with you.” 

5. Incorporate positive language 

an example of  an owner incorporating positive language in a response to a review

Why it matters: It’s important not to downplay or argue with a customer’s feelings. 

However, you can apologize for a negative experience while highlighting your brand's positives. 

Incorporating positive language into your reply is a way to remind readers of your values – and encourage them to choose your brand over others.  

How to do it: “We pride ourselves on delivering outstanding customer service and apologize for falling short of your expectations.” 

More templates: 

  • “We take pride in delivering a 5-star experience for our valued customers and deeply regret missing the mark on this occasion.” 
  • “At [Business Name], providing our customers with exceptional [service, quality, value, comfort, etc.] is our top priority. We truly apologize for falling short of our standards during your [last visit, recent appointment, most recent stay with us, most recent dining experience].” 

6. Encourage further discussion 

an example of  an owner encouraging further discussion in a response to a review

Why it matters: A dissatisfied or angry customer is at high risk of abandoning your brand – potentially, for one of your biggest competitors. 

Your reply to their review is an opportunity to turn things around by initiating an offline conversation where you can resolve the situation without disclosing too many details publicly. 

Steer the customer toward phone calls, email responses, or other methods of contacting your team for further assistance regarding their complaint. 

How to do it: “Please reach out to our customer service team at your earliest convenience.” 

More templates: 

  • “Please contact us directly by calling [phone number], emailing [email address], or sending a direct message to [business account].” 
  • “We’re here to help resolve this and encourage you to contact us as soon as possible for further assistance.” 

7. Reply within 24 hours 

an example of  an owner replying within 24 hours to response to a review

Why it matters: Your reply’s speed is just as important as its content. Responding promptly is especially critical when dealing with serious customer issues, which must be resolved swiftly. 

Aim to respond in 24 hours or less, and urgently prioritize any review that deals with safety or discrimination.

How to do it: There are a few steps you can take to increase your average reply speed. 

These steps include: 

  • Monitoring review sites, business directories, and social media platforms for new ratings and reviews 
  • Using AI tools and review response templates to accelerate the writing process without sacrificing personalization 
  • Ensuring that one or more dedicated responders are available to respond to reviews outside regular business hours 
  • Leveraging an end-to-end review response service to handle creating responses on your brand’s behalf  

5 customer complaint response examples

Now that we’ve broken down some of the elements that go into a reply to a negative customer review, let’s analyze a few more examples of responses from real businesses.

Example #1  

customer complaint example 1

Type of company: Fast food restaurant 

Customer rating: 3 stars 

Type of complaint: Somewhat unsatisfactory customer service, room for improvement in overall customer experience 

Why the owner's reply works: 

  • Uses the customer’s name 
  • Thanks the reviewer for their comments 
  • States that the customer’s feedback will be reviewed by the business 
  • Welcomes the customer to return again in the future
  • Includes the company name 

Example #2 

customer complaint example 2

Type of company: Fast food restaurant

Customer rating: 1 star

Type of complaint: Incorrect order received, dissatisfaction with customer service provided 

Why the owner's reply works: 

  • Use of the customer name
  • An apology is present 
  • Specific references to details from the review (“...that your order was not correct”) 
  • Invitation to contact the business for further support 
  • Solution-oriented positive attitude 

Example #3  

customer complaint example 3

Type of company: Car dealership 

Customer rating: 1 star 

Type of complaint: Unsatisfactory customer service 

Why the owner's reply works: 

  • Uses the reviewer’s name
  • Emphasizes the company’s commitment to “improving our customers’ experience” and “deliver[ing] a five-star experience” 
  • Thanks the reviewer for their feedback 
  • Encourages the customer to continue the conversation offline
  • Provides the reviewer with contact information

Example #4 

customer complaint example 4

Type of company: Auto dealership

Customer rating: 1 star

Type of complaint: Slow service/long wait times, confusing and dissatisfying customer experience

Why the owner's reply works: 

  •  Has an upbeat and friendly tone
  • Apologizes to the customer
  • Uses the reviewer’s name
  • Emphasizes the company’s commitment to customer service
  • Encourages the customer to follow up for further assistance
  • Provides contact information for the customer’s convenience 

Example #5 

customer complaint example 5

Type of company: Car wash service 

Customer rating: 1 star 

Type of complaint: Problems with company website, difficulty completing online transactions  

Why the owner's reply works: 

  • Uses the customer’s name
  • Offers an apology to the customer
  • References follow up action being taken (“We will be reaching out to our technical team…”) 
  • Reinforces the brand’s positive points (“a wash like no other”)  

Respond to customer complaints more effectively 

A coordinated review reply strategy can help your business earn loyal customers by: 

  • Improving the speed and quality of the service you provide
  • Presenting your company as transparent and trustworthy online 
  • Making your reviewers and customers feel valued, supported, and heard 

ResponseScribe empowers you to achieve these goals and elevate your business to new heights.

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Monitor 50+ review platforms 

Say goodbye to the hassle and inefficiency of tracking review platforms yourself. Our service handles review monitoring for you, ensuring you’ll never miss a notification or alert. 

We monitor more than 50 review platforms, business directories, and social media networks for ratings, complaints, and positive reviews. Platforms we monitor include Yelp, Facebook, the Better Business Bureau, Tripadvisor, Trustpilot, Google, Angi, Yellowpages.com, and more. 

Missing a platform you want us to monitor? Let us know and we’ll connect your account seamlessly. 

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Reply to customers quickly 

ResponseScribe does more than pull your reviews into one convenient, centralized hub – we also take care of responding to your customers, freeing your team members to focus on other projects. 

We provide an end-to-end review response service for small businesses, ensuring your reviewers receive personalized replies in 24 hours or less. Every reply is crafted to reflect your brand’s language and values, without the inefficiency of having to write it yourself. 

Make customer satisfaction a top priority for your business in 2024. Find the plan that fits your organization’s needs and start building stronger relationships with your customers today.

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Respond to customer complaints effortlessly with ResponseScribe 

Responding to bad reviews is a cost-effective way to: 

  • Portray your brand positively 
  • Mitigate damaging statements about your company  
  • Improve your local SEO 
  • Earn shoppers’ trust
  • Show customers that a real person is available to help them
  • Ignite productive conversations with dissatisfied or unhappy customers, leading to better retention and reduced churn 

ResponseScribe ensures that your reviewers on platforms like Google, Yelp, and Facebook receive professional, personalized replies in under 24 hours, empowering your business to provide better and faster customer service – without spending any time writing.

Ready to accelerate your small business’ growth? Start your free trial of ResponseScribe today.  


Frequently asked questions

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