Skip to main content
Sad emoji with the caption 'Negative online reviews. How to manage and respond to negative reviews posted about your business'

How to respond to negative reviews

There are plenty of reasons why a customer might have a look at your Facebook page. Unfortunately, there are usually only two reasons why they would leave you a review. Either they are sharing a great experience or they’re (publically) complaining.

Negative reviews can have a significant impact on your business, not to mention the frustration and anxiety they can cause. Fortunately, like complaints made in person, negative online reviews don’t have to result in lost business. Instead, with a little forward thinking you can turn them into an opportunity to attract more customers.

Respond privately

A number of businesses prefer to respond to negative reviews off-line, and out of public view. If on Facebook, you should be able to private message your response. Send a short message where you:

  • Say hello and Introduce yourself
  • Thank them for visiting your business and taking the time to provide feedback
  • Apologise for the fact their experience didn’t live up to their expectation

The rest of the message depends on the situation. You could offer some kind of compensation (eg. we’d love to offer you a free burger the next time you visit, to make up for your experience). Or let them know you’d adjusted the product (eg. in response to your feedback we’ve increased the size of our burger patties).

Respond publically

Once you’ve sent through a private response, make sure you also respond publically. Any readers, or potential customers, that come across the exchange will see the exchange. This will more than likely build your reputation, assuring potential customers that you listen and act on feedback.

Your public response could read along the lines of, ‘We’re sorry to hear you were unhappy with our product. It’s our goal to make sure every customer enjoys their experience. We’ve messaged you privately to get additional feedback, and can assure you we’ll do everything we can to resolve the situation.’

Prepare responses

In the moment, when you’re feeling frustrated, you may not have time to craft the best response. Drafting responses ahead of time can help you respond quickly and in the best possible way. While some of the details can change, having a few dot points to start with could make your life much easier.

We’ve included a private message template below to get you started.

Hello <name>,
We're sorry that your experience didn’t live up to expectations. We appreciate your feedback and wanted to let you know problems with customer service is not something we are known for. If you read our other reviews, you’ll see we pride ourselves in providing great customer service and we'd like to do the same for you. We may not be able to change your previous experience but we’d like to offer you a complimentary to make it up to you. We hope to resolve this to your benefit and earn you back as a customer.
Yours sincerely
<name>

At the SBDC, we know that small business means big thinking. For more digital marketing tips, including social media, email marketing and blogging, attend our Digital Marketing Essentials workshop.

Last updated on:

Get the latest SBDC small business news