A Guide for Responding to Negative and Fake Reviews

Bruno Mircevski

Web Hosting Expert ··Website Tips

A Guide for Responding to Negative and Fake Reviews

Negative reviews are an unfortunate but common occurrence for all industries. And they are vital. Around 91% of younger customers trust reviews and treat them as personal recommendations.

Businesses must respond to customers' reviews and directly engage with them, and negative reviews should be your top priority as a business. Around 53% of customers expect businesses to respond to their negative reviews within a week. Moreover, 94% of customers will avoid a business because of a negative review.

So, because of the importance negative reviews have for business, today we will go over some of the ways to respond to them, and we will cover:

  • Negative review response practices

  • How to respond to negative reviews: Tips

  • What not to do when responding to negative reviews

  • How to respond to fake reviews

  • Niche examples of negative review responses

Should You Respond to Negative Reviews?


It's crucial to respond to all online reviews, including the negative ones because over 67% of customers decide whether to buy from your business after reading those reviews. Moreover, 70% of customers have to read at least four reviews before even considering buying from a business. So, them seeing a response to those four reviews could decide whether or not they do business with you.

Customers generally leave negative reviews due to three main reasons:

  • They are uninformed

  • You failed to deliver the promised

  • They have unreasonably high expectations

Although the complaints might be in different categories, thus requiring different approaches, all negative reviews should be addressed properly and in a timely manner. This could create an opportunity to bring back the customer and convince them to give you a second chance.

Also, it will show future customers that you do care about their experience and opinion, which could lessen the effect a negative review could have on potential customers.

Negative Review Response Practices


Personalization

Making your customers know that you've personally read and thought about their review is essential, especially for customers who were dissatisfied. You should make sure to directly respond to them and make a well-thought-out, personal response that caters directly to what they've said. An example is:

"Hello (customer name). I am (name and position at the company). I wanted to thank you for taking the time to write this review and point out the negative aspects you have experienced. I want to apologize on behalf of the company for (insert what the customer is dissatisfied about). I would greatly appreciate you speaking to us about your experience in more detail so that we can find the right solution. If you would like to talk to us further, we would greatly welcome you to reach out to us at (phone number)."

Personalization

Gratitude and acknowledgment

It's important to think rationally and objectively before answering reviews. They can be hurtful, but that's the price of doing business online. In every response, you should express your gratitude to the customer for taking the time to write the review and point out what they didn't like. Also, you should acknowledge their experience and make them know that you understand their point of view. This can go a long way in changing that customer's opinion of you and show potential future customers that you care about their feelings and opinions. You can write something like:

"Hello (customer name). We apologize for your dissatisfactory experience with us. It is entirely understandable why you would feel this way. We want to do everything possible to correct this on our part and make sure you never feel this way again. If you would please contact us at (phone number) to try and fix this as soon as possible, we would greatly appreciate it!"

Gratitude and acknowledgment

Apologies and regrets

The most important thing you have to include in every response is an apology, even if you disagree with what was said. A simple, short apology and a genuine expression of regret will signal to all existing and potential customers that you value them and do not want them to have bad experiences. Taking the high road is a must, and there are no exceptions. Also, it will benefit you to be kind and apologetic to everyone in the long run and may change the negative perception some customers have of you. An example of what you can write is:

Hello (customer name)! We are deeply sorry that your experience with us was unsatisfactory and did not meet your expectations. We would kindly ask you to contact us at (phone number) so that we can make this right."

Apologies and regrets

Responsibility & Standards maintenance

Making excuses is something you should avoid altogether. An angry or dissatisfied customer does not want to hear them and will not do business with you again if you do not take responsibility. So, be sure to always take responsibility in your responses and not get defensive. Even if the negative experience was not your fault and out of your control, you have to take the high ground because the customer will find someone else to do business with. Also, when taking responsibility, you should continue to speak about the high-quality standards you hold your business to. You should respond with:

"Hello (customer name). We sincerely apologize for your negative experience. We always make sure to provide our customers with high-quality service, and we pride ourselves on always delivering what our customers expect from us. We are so sorry we missed the mark here, and we would greatly appreciate you contacting us at (phone number) so that we can fix this issue!"

Suggest a solution to fix

This is what most customers expect to get from you. Always make sure to provide some solution in your response, whether it be a refund, discount, or a free replacement. Your goal should be to get to the root of the negative experience and try to turn things around in your favor. This could cause the customer to not only give you another shot, but they could also delete the negative review and write a positive one. If that is not possible, you should write a response that will show your genuine regret and desire to prevent the situation from happening again. An example:

Hello (customer name)! We at (business name) want to offer our sincere apologies for your negative experience. We always work toward providing the best service to all of our customers. On the rare occasions where we fail, this situation being one of them, we do everything within our power to correct any mistakes and issues that occur. We are committed to improving our services and would appreciate it if you would contact us at (phone number) to make things right!"

Reassurance that the situation will not happen again

As part of your response, reassure the customer that the negative experience will not be repeated, and promise to do everything you can to avoid similar issues. You can write something like:

"Hello (customer name)! We are sorry that your experience was negative and unsatisfactory. We promise to do everything in our power to prevent this issue from happening again in the future. if you have some advice on how we can accomplish this, we are more than happy to hear from you at (phone number) and sort this out!"

Direct contact (not in public)

Always offer the customer a chance to contact you offline and discuss their negative experience more in-depth. Of course, make this suggestion subtly so that you don't come off as wanting to hide negative interaction. You can write something like:

"Hello (customer name)! We are sorry to hear about your experience and want to investigate this issue further to provide the most suitable solution for you. If you would like to discuss this further, please get in touch with us at (phone number) or at (email address), whichever is more convenient for you. We would greatly appreciate hearing from you and making this right!"

Invitation/second chance

Make sure to invite the customer to discuss their experience further in order to find the most suitable solution. This could create an opportunity for the customer to give you a second chance and change their mind about your business. It will also make the customer feel heard and valued on your part, which is essential. An example:

"Hello (customer name)! We are sorry to hear about your unsatisfactory experience and would like to do everything in our power to rectify it! We would greatly appreciate you contacting us at (phone number) and helping us to make this right!"

How to Respond to Negative Reviews: Tips


  • Timing and Regularity – make sure to respond quickly and try to keep the responses in under a week. This will ensure that the customer's negative feelings will not boil and become more profound. So, make sure to make responding a priority.
  • Providing managers in charge – when responding to customers, it is also recommended to include the position you have in the company or refer the customer to the appropriate authority that is in charge of what they're complaining about.
Providing managers in charge
  • Review response guidelines and standards – it is good to have a template for different types of responses so that more employees can respond, and the responsibility is not only on you. Also, templates and standards make it easier to respond to customers because it leaves little room for employees to guess how they're supposed to handle a review. This will also make responding quicker because more people will be able to respond simultaneously.
  • Always address the customer – this will make the customer feel valued and heard and will keep them engaged because you're referring to them directly. Also, it could go a long way in changing people's minds and making them more open to giving your business a second chance.
Always address the customer
  • Keep a cool head when responding – there is no use to respond to a negative review when angry because even if your anger is justified, you will come across as defensive and argumentative. Always keep in mind that other customers are also watching, and they may be discouraged from doing business with you if they see this type of response. Generally, your reputation online is more important than that one review that will upset you.
  • Make the responses short – most customers won't read a long paragraph where you explain why something happened and how it happened, so keep your responses short and offer customers the ability to contact you offline. Also, let them know that you will do your best to fix the issue.
Make the responses short
  • Get help - if you don't have the time or resources to reply to all reviews, it can be a good idea to engage the support of a managed service provider or other staff.
  • Explain your viewpoint – make sure to explain what happened, but don't justify it and make excuses. Customers don't want to read excuses, but explaining to them the circumstances that lead to the negative experience could help.
Explain your viewpoint

What Not to Do When Responding to Negative Reviews


  • No identical review – while using templates is recommended, make sure that each review has something unique in it so that the customer feels like your review is genuine and specially made for them
  • Don't tell customers they're wrong – this will make them feel invalidated and like their experience is incorrect. You cannot correct someone's personal feelings to discard their negative review because it will be highly off-putting to all who read your response.
  • Do not be sarcastic or condescending – using a sarcastic tone and condescending language in a review will negatively affect your business's reputation in the eyes of the customer. Customers will see this as you saying that you're better than them and that you do not take criticism seriously, which will make them not want to do business with you.
Do not be sarcastic or condescending
review10
  • Never assume anything – take the review at face value, and even if you assume some things that could have had something to do with the customer's negative experience, do not include them in your response
  • Make sure not to miss the point – you must understand the customer's goal with writing their review and respond accordingly to what they're complaining about. Offer them a solution that aligns with their specific issue and not a broad solution that could be seen as a band-aid and not a real remedy.

How to Respond to Fake Reviews


Firstly, you should verify that the review is fake by checking for the reviewer's name in your database or seeing if they've done the same review for other businesses. Then, you should acknowledge the review and respond to the issues that it mentions so that other customers see that you care about their opinions.

Finally, you should report the review to the website so that it won't appear again. Keep in mind that this could take some time and that there is a possibility that the review won't be removed.

For example, you can write:

"Thank you for your review. We want to apologize for any inconvenience you have encountered with our company. Feel free to contact us at (phone number) to further elaborate on your experience so that we can make it right."

Niche Examples of Negative Review Responses


Response for a negative hotel review:

"Hello (customer name). Thank you for writing about your experience at (hotel name). We want to sincerely apologize for the lack of clean sheets, as this is something we pay a lot of attention to. We at (hotel name) always strive to provide the best quality service to our customers, but we clearly performed below our standards in this case. We take your experience very seriously and have discussed it thoroughly with the responsible parties to ensure it doesn't happen again."

Response for a negative restaurant review:

"Dear (customer name). We at (restaurant name) would like to offer our apologies for the inconvenience you've experienced at our breakfast service. We are so sorry to hear that the meal you ordered was cold and of bad taste. We have communicated the issue to our chef, and he also extends his deepest apologies for the issue. We will make sure to improve the quality of our breakfast service and that this never happens again."

Response for a negative online shop review:

"Hello (customer name). We sincerely apologize for the negative experience you had with our shop. We are truly sorry that your shopping cart was not saved and all your items were lost. We have been experiencing some technical issues as of late with the cart function. We are working to improve this section of our shop and have been discussing the issue with our IT department. We thank you for sharing your experience, and we promise to fix the issue as soon as possible."

Response to a negative financial services review:

"Dear (customer name). We are sorry to hear that your personal data got mixed up with someone else's, which led to making the wrong purchase on your behalf. It was a grave mistake on our part that we want to rectify immediately. Please get in touch with us at (phone number) so that we can deposit a full refund and discuss how we can make it up to you.

Response to a negative financial services review

Response to a negative healthcare review:

"Dear (customer name). We sincerely apologize that you waited so long after your appointment was scheduled to see the doctor. This scheduling issue is completely unacceptable on our part. We did not intend in any way to be disrespectful of your time and put in a lot of effort to make sure this doesn't happen. Please know that we have discussed the issue in-depth and will ensure that this mishap never happens again. Feel free to contact us at (phone number) if you would like to discuss this issue further so that we can make it right."

Response to a negative healthcare review

Can You Pay to Remove Negative Reviews?


There is no possibility to remove the negative reviews on your business. Additionally, even if you go through the process of reporting the reviews you want to remove, there is no guarantee that they will be removed.

Something you can do, though, is to make sure that you get customers with positive experiences to write about them more frequently by sharing other positive reviews across all your social media accounts. Also, you can improve customers' experiences by fixing the issues they have expressed and by continuously improving your overall service and everything it includes.

This will help encourage customers to post their positive experiences more because you will show them that you appreciate when they do so and that you recognize and value their business. It could further help to trump the negative reviews and make sure they are not the first thing new customers see when they read reviews on your business.

How to Respond to Neutral & Positive Reviews


  • Neutral reviews – acknowledge the customer and their review in a friendly manner, thank them for their review and the time they put into writing it, and most importantly, apologize for the negative aspects of the review and offer a way to fix the issues they've experienced. You can also explain why the issue occurred, if possible. Make sure to be polite and validate their experience by making them know that you care about their opinion and inviting them to give your business another try.
  • Positive reviews – thank the customer for their review and express how much it means to you that they are satisfied with your service. Promote new products, services, or promotions subtly to engage them further. Make them feel valuable by emphasizing the meaning of their opinion to you. Make sure they know that you will always strive to provide quality service that will live up to their expectations. Never forget to address the customer by including their name (username) in your response.

The Bottom Line


Negative reviews can be upsetting and hurtful, but they are a big part of online business. When responding to such reviews, it's crucial to have your reputation in mind and be mindful of what you say.

Coming off as defensive and not being able to handle criticism will distance your customers and will prevent new ones from doing business with you. So, always be friendly and polite when responding, create templates so that you don't go off-topic, and make the customer feel heard and appreciated.

Frequently Asked Questions


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Bruno Mircevski
About the Author
Bruno Mircevski

Bruno Mircevski is a web hosting services expert. He has spent years researching the niche, exploring the most diverse aspects of Shared, VPS, WordPress, Cloud Hosting, Dedicated Servers, Resellers, etc. With his extensive knowledge and experience, he can grant you meaningful insights on our blog, whether you are a beginner or a hosting pro.

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