How to Deal with Negative Customer Reviews

negative reviews

Handling negative reviews from customers the right way is important for brand image, especially in the leisure industry and on platforms like Yelp and TripAdvisor. Reviews are just another form of word-of-mouth advertising, which is the most effective. Here are 6 tips to handle negative customer reviews in order to please your customers and maintain a positive brand image.

Consider that 69% of consumers search and consider online reviews before making purchasing decisions, and products and services with positive reviews generally have twice as many sales as those without. Nearly 90% of travelers believe reviews to be important for purchasing decisions, therefore you don’t want them to come across any negative reviews about your tours. Negative online reviews can result in the loss of 70% of potential customers. But what exactly can you do about these potentially harmful reviews? What should you do to make things right and counteract the effects of those few inevitable negative reviews?

Know How Review Sites Work

The first step in dealing with negative customer reviews is to understand how the important review sites work. Each site and platform has its own peculiar filtering and ranking methods, so it takes some familiarity to know the difference between simply luke-warm reviews and truly bad reviews.

For example. Yelp’s algorithm uses quality, reliability, and user activity to present and recommend reviews that will be the most helpful to users. And TripAdvisor, which offers reviews of travel-related businesses, uses a star rating to rank these businesses. With TripAdvisor’s system, a four-star rating can be worse than no review at all.

Yelp and Tripadvisor are both important platforms

Determine Whether a Response is Justified

Not all negative reviews deserve a response. Sometimes such reviews come from a crank or a chronic complainer, instead of being the legitimate concerns of dissatisfied customers. If a negative review is an irrational screed or is in all caps from an anonymous user, then a carefully crafted, apologetic response to initiate the healing process is not likely to sway the reviewer.

Respond Quickly and Personally

handle negative reviewsThis is the age of instant communication, which includes interaction with brands. Therefore, prompt action is necessary to head off the impact of potentially harmful negative customer reviews. A speedy response shows that you truly care and are genuinely concerned about customer satisfaction.

In addition, your response should be custom tailored for that particular reviewer, not just a cookie-cutter reply in the form of a generic, impersonal apology. You simply must take the time to carefully read and thoughtfully respond to negative customer reviews. In fact, when companies responded appropriately and personally to negative customer reviews, nearly a third of the reviewers deleted or replaced those reviews, and about a fifth went on to make another purchase and eventually became loyal customers (e-Strategy Trends, “Online Reviews & Ratings”).

Don’t Respond Publicly at First

Experts in this area recommend that you do not respond to a negative review in a public comment at first. Rather, you should address the issue more privately, via email, an option Yelp offers business-page owners. Then when the matter has been satisfactorily resolved, you can leave a comment in the public area.

Be Tactful and Empathetic

Another effective tactic is to be empathetic in responses. Although customers may not always be correct in reviews, you can’t just bluntly tell them they are wrong. When responding to negative reviews you and your brand need to strive for an empathetic tone. By tactfully acknowledging the legitimacy of the customer’s concerns, you engender in that customer a sense that you are truly empathetic and want to make things right. Then, even if the problem isn’t your fault, you can attempt to make amends – which often turns a disgruntled customer into a happy repeat customer.

Ask for Another Chance

One of the most important things you can do in dealing with negative reviews is to ask customers how you can improve their experience in the future. When you can learn from it, negative feedback is valuable.

Then, to rectify a customer’s negative experience and build trust and encourage repeat business, you simply ask for another chance. You can do this by offering, for example, a coupon or voucher or even a replacement product. While free shouldn’t always be your automatic response, it can go a long way toward ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty.


Maintaining your brand image online is important for your business, and following these tips should help you maintain your reviews with ease. Ensure you keep routine maintenance of your online profiles on review sites such as TripAdvisor and any other popular review sites your target audience is active on. This is the best way to stay on top of your brand reputation online so you can attract more customers.

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