Best Practices for Responding to Negative Google Reviews

Are you dealing with a negative review? Don’t get worked up, it happens to the best of us small business owners!

No matter how amazing your products are, how great your service is, or how clear your communication is, you’ll eventually have to deal with an upset customer.

There are many potential reasons a negative review might be placed against your business.

You might be working with a person trying to get a discount after their service was completed. You might be dealing with someone who became upset after a simple misunderstanding. Or the person might just be having a bad day.

Your next step should be to step away from your computer or phone for a little bit.

Don’t engage with a negative reviewer in the heat of the moment. You’ll likely say or do something you’ll later regret, and you often can’t walk those mistakes back.

According to Bright Local, 81% of consumers in 2022 used Google to evaluate local businesses, so don’t openly argue with recent customers online.

It’s crucial to remember that responding to negative feedback is part of your marketing strategy that focuses on managing customer experience. With that said, let’s go over some tips for how to handle your current situation.

Tips for Handling Negative Reviews

This article covers some of the most effective methods for responding to negative reviews and provides a few templates to assist you in beginning your response.

Tip #1 – Respond to Complaints in a Timely Fashion

It’s understandable to want to take time to consider and craft an appropriate response, but don’t avoid the issue altogether and expect it to settle on its own.

As a business owner, we know you have a multitude of responsibilities to manage, such as staffing shortages, delayed shipments, and various other challenges that arise daily.

It’s possible that a negative review on Google may not be a top priority for you, but ideally, it should be. A delayed approach can be counterproductive and hinder the resolution of the issue.

Once you become aware of a negative review, take a few minutes to calm down if it angered you, then promptly address it.

Delaying a response can make your eventual apology appear insincere. Also, most online reviews and responses are timestamped, which means future customers can see how long it took for you to respond.

Tip #2 – Request a Phone or In-Person Conversation

While it’s important to respond to negative Google reviews, it may not be the best approach to engage in a lengthy conversation directly with the reviewer.

Yelp and Google are not platforms for real-time communication for one-on-one client engagement.

Additionally, the unhappy customer might be further angered by your feedback or go into more unnecessary detail in an open environment.

Let’s talk about a thoughtful and strategic response, typed out below:


My name is [YOUR NAME] and I am the [POSITION] here at [YOUR COMPANY].

I'm very sorry to hear about your disappointment in our [PRODUCT/SERVICE]. I would like to personally apologize and offer to assist in making things right.

I'd like to reach out today to discuss, but if you'd prefer to contact me directly please do so at [PHONE/EMAIL].

Hopefully we can get on a call to address this as soon as possible, since we value your business and opinion of our company.


You’ll notice the example response attempts to initiate a one-on-one conversation with the unhappy customer. You are welcome to customize the wording to match your situation.

It’s crucial to focus on addressing the customer’s needs and concerns, rather than attempting to hide the issue or defend yourself online. It is also much easier to resolve something over the phone, or in person, instead of email communication.

Tip #3 – Accept the Blame and Don’t Argue

Your recent negative review may have caught you by surprise. It may even include false claims by the unhappy customer.

Perhaps you thought the customer was happy, but after reading the review it is clear they are not happy.

Your next step should be to NOT argue with the customer, especially in a public forum like Google reviews.

It may be challenging to discern the customer’s experience from a brief review, making it unwise to engage in an argument online. Instead of arguing, it’s best to apologize about the situation and offer address the issue over the phone.

Don’t alienate potential customers who may view an unnational or emotional response as unfavorable. According to a recent study from Bizrate, more than 50% of online shoppers are motivated by reviews, so expect future customers to read your feedback. That will ultimately lead them to question if your company is worth their patronage.

Tip #4 – Thank the Person for Their Feedback

It’s important to keep in mind that whether positive or negative, every review for your business requires your customer’s valuable time and money.

When someone takes the effort to write a review for your products or services, it signifies that they hold a significant opinion about your company.

A well-coordinated marketing strategy encourages others to speak about your business, and Google reviews are no exception.

As a part of a reputation management strategy, you can request reviews via email to encourage customers to share their experiences. In the event of a negative review, it’s essential to express gratitude for their feedback and promise improvements in your process in the future.

This approach can accomplish several things, such as:

  • Calming down an emotional customer who might be on the warpath of leaving further negative reviews.
  • Proving to your recent customer that you actually care about their concerns, their business, and their happiness.
  • Showing potential customers you care about customer satisfaction and positive outcomes to issues.

Here are a few ways you could start out.


Thank you for taking the time to discuss your experience with our company. I'm sorry we didn't meet your expectations, but I hope we get the opportunity to improve the situation on our next encounter.

We appreciate the time you took to share your experience and apologize for letting you down. Please know that we will take to heart your feedback and discuss as a team how to improve our internal processes to prevent this from occurring again.

Thank you for taking the time to explain the situation. Please be assured we take complaints seriously and will be discussing internally how to improve future experiences.

These are excellent openings for a response to a negative review, as long as it doesn’t abruptly become snarky!

Tip #5 – Provide Basic Feedback with Request for More Communication

It’s important to exercise caution in discussing too much information about the situation on a public platform.

The initial response may prompt further dialogue, so it’s best to continue the conversation offline, away from public scrutiny.


We are sorry to hear that you have had such a negative experience.

Our team is dedicated to excellent customer service, and we strive for 100% satisfaction. We would appreciate the opportunity to correct the situation by making it right.

Please contact us at [PHONE/EMAIL] so that one of our team members can discuss your concerns in greater detail.

Thank you for taking the time to reach out.

It’s improbable a satisfactory resolution will be reached through the initial response alone, so be prepared for more discussions.

In your response, provide your email address or phone number to facilitate a more in-depth investigation and discussion of the issue. This approach adds a personal touch to your response, allowing customers to communicate with an actual person rather than a faceless business entity.

Tip #6 – Find and Propose a Resolution

Addressing concerns highlighted by reviewers is a step in the right direction towards taking responsibility (even if it isn’t your fault) and resolving the issue professionally.

You might consider offering customers a complimentary service or product in place of a refund if one is warranted. However, before offering that type of solution, it is advisable to identify the source of the person’s dissatisfaction.

Genuine efforts to address the issue can prompt customers to revise their negative review or even convert it into a positive one.

Alternatively, if you’re struggling to find a solution to the problem, consider crafting a highly persuasive public response to the negative review. This approach can demonstrate your sincere remorse and commitment to preventing similar mistakes in the future.

Tip #7 – Follow Up After the Resolution

It’s not enough to only resolve the issue at hand; it’s important to maintain contact with the customer after providing a resolution.

Following up with the customer a few weeks later is a good idea. If they had the impression their feedback and concerns were disregarded before the review, it could be a pleasant surprise to the person if you check in with them weeks after a resolution.

That same customer may end up endorsing your business online or commending you as an excellent example of addressing complaints and negative reviews.

Tip #8 – Provide Incentives like Discounts or Refunds

Some people post negative reviews solely to vent their frustrations, with no intention of returning to see the business’s response.

If that is the situation you are in, you might be able to recapture their attention through the offering of incentives to getting on the phone to resolve the issue.

At times, it is necessary to measure your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) to help you make such a decision. After all, continuously offering discounts to customers who leave negative reviews and don’t have a high CLV may result in financial loss in the long run.

Final Thoughts on Handling Negative Reviews of Your Business

Being mindful of how you respond to customer feedback is crucial in preserving a positive online reputation.

It may take some time to master the skill of responding to negative reviews. Hopefully you don’t get too many opportunities to refine that skillset!

However, this is a process that is worthwhile because it helps customers feel more connected to your brand.

It’s important to carefully review your customer’s expectations and compare them to their experience. By doing so, you can ensure they continue to return to your business with realistic expectations and that you fulfill their needs.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that positive reviews can be just as valuable in showcasing what your business does right. It’s important to acknowledge and thank customers who leave positive reviews about your business online, as this can encourage others to do the same.

Whatever your decision is in how to respond, just don’t get into arguments or ignore the negative review. If you attempt to make the customer happy again, you’ll be going down the right path.

Disclaimer: WebCitz, LLC does not warrant or make representations concerning the accuracy, likely results, or reliability of the information found on this page or any websites linked to from this page. This article was written by David W in his or her personal capacity. The opinion(s) expressed in this article are the author's own and may not reflect those of WebCitz, LLC. When you purchase through links on this site, we may earn an affiliate commission.