hot airAs long as there are reviews, there will be negative reviews. Read up on all the tips you want about responding to harsh criticism, but you’ll still be at a loss for words when someone is badmouthing your business and staff. It never hurts to read a blog like this one for a refreshment on appropriate ways to respond to negativity. The last thing you want to do is call over your coworkers to show them the outrageous claims some crazy person made (because let’s face it, it sometimes feels that way). That will only deepen your rage, and kill the mood in the workplace. Instead, take a deep breath and respond with these points in mind:

Use the phrase “I hear you.”

Businesses don’t become successful because they get it right the first time. Success is achieved when businesses face their problems and find appropriate resolutions. Don’t let a negative comment get you down. Rather, look at it as an opportunity to highlight how committed you are to making things right for your clients. If your knee-jerk reaction is to jump right into justification, you are essentially saying that you know better than them. Instead, think over what they’re saying. Look at where they’re coming from. Let them know you hear them, and offer an apology if necessary. The bottom line is that people want to be heard, so listen. By doing so, you show that you value your customer’s feedback, even if negative.

Address the customer by name

All reviews deserve to be handled with care, even negative ones. If you continuously use the same framework for addressing negative reviews, you run the risk of leaving a cookie-cutter response. Every customer is different, and each problem must be addressed individually. One way to connect personally with unsatisfied customer is by using the customer’s name in your response. Addressing someone by name is a form of flattery. As author, Dale Carnegie stated, in his 1936 novel, How to Win Friends and Influence People, “a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” Keep this principle in mind when addressing an unsatisfied customer. It’s an effective way to engage with someone who is ticked off. Just remember to check your spelling before hitting reply.

Ask a question

Most the time, issues between a customer and a business owner are due to a miscommunication or misunderstanding. One way to clear up confusion is by asking a question. By asking a question, you are calling attention to the problem in an indirect, unconfrontational manner. For example, if you’re a restaurant owner, and have a customer who is unhappy about the hour wait time for a table, ask if they had made a reservation, and inform them of your reservation policy. Or, ask when they arrived, and provide them with alternative time when it might be less busy. Always look for the opportunity to ask a question. This helps to avoid the conversation from getting into he said/she said territory, and creates an open dialogue.


At LinkNow Media, we’ve looked at ways of responding to negative reviews in the past, and are likely to revisit this topic again in the future. We believe that if you can handle the situation competently, you’ll be given another chance.