Last updated on July 17, 2023

Jessica Hulett
Content Manager, Brand @ Yotpo
April 6th, 2022 | 7 minutes read

Concerned about the implications of a bad review? Fear not, here’s how to respond to negative reviews to build brand trust.

Table Of Contents

When deciding whether or not to implement reviews online, many businesses worry about the impact of bad reviews. But bad reviews are simply a natural part of doing business. Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar store, an eCommerce business, or some combination of both, it’s hard to please all of your customers at the same time.

Negative reviews aren’t something that you should shy away from as they could actually help your business. Learn more about bad reviews, and how to respond to negative reviews in a way that best works for your brand.

The truth about bad reviews

It’s impossible to live in a world of five-star experiences, so why are businesses so afraid of negative reviews? Let’s clear some common concerns:

  • Negative reviews don’t mean your business is bad.
  • Poor reviews can actually help your business.
  • Learning how to respond to negative reviews is easy (we’ll share some techniques below).
  • The best way to combat bad reviews? Get more good ones!

No one likes to see bad reviews online, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in negative feedback. If and when you receive a less than favorable review, remember that it doesn’t mean your product or service is bad. Most likely, the review was the result of mismatched expectations or simply a bad day on the part of the reviewer (or your brand). When you do receive a negative review, one of the most important things you can do is to respond to it.

How to respond to negative reviews

Some negative reviews may come from customers who were simply disappointed in one aspect of your product or service. But if you publish these negative reviews, respond to them publicly, and learn from them, you’re already moving in the right direction.

Here’s how to respond to negative reviews.

Publish and respond publicly

Whether a customer left a negative review because they were dissatisfied with a product, didn’t like the smell or feel of a product, or had an issue with shipping or delivery, the most important thing you can do is publish the negative review.

Publishing your negative reviews can help to build trust with your customers. If they only see positive reviews posted on your site, they may believe that they’re fake. Once the review is published on your site, be sure to respond to it publicly. A public response will show your shoppers that you acknowledge their concerns.

Apologize and offer a solution

In your response to a negative review, apologize for the inconvenience and offer a solution to the issue. For instance, if the customer didn’t like the smell of a product, offer them an alternative such as a fragrance-free product.

Keep in mind that some customers may not like certain products. If offering them an alternative isn’t the best solution to the issue, consider sending them a discount toward their next purchase instead.

Take the conversation offline, if needed

If the customer isn’t satisfied with the possible solutions you’ve offered, taking the conversation offline may be helpful. Provide the dissatisfied customer with an alternative email or phone number. Sending the customer this additional contact information will allow them to speak to someone who can solve their problem and ensure that they won’t have the same issues in the future.

Why negative reviews are important for your business

Believe it or not, there can be a lot of benefits to negative product reviews.

Bad reviews make good reviews look more authentic

Negative reviews can shine a positive light on good reviews. When a business shows all of their reviews, they prove they have nothing to hide. Consumers tend to trust reviews more when they see a mix of good and bad feedback.

Most consumers know that fake reviews are a huge problem when shopping online. If a product has nothing but five-star reviews, it tends to raise red flags.

Main takeaway: Negative reviews are good for your brand because they’re proof that your reviews are real. 

Bad reviews assist in making the right purchase decision

In addition to boosting customer trust in your brand, bad reviews give shoppers a real picture of what they can expect from your products and service. One of the main reasons customers write bad reviews is not because the product was bad, but because it didn’t meet their expectations.

In fact, a Yotpo study of 1.3 million reviews found that the most commonly used negative word in reviews by an enormous margin is “disappointment” or “disappointed.”

For example, let’s say a clothing store gets negative reviews saying that the fit on a top was too small. Shoppers who read those negative product reviews know that they need to order a larger size. Shoppers can see the reason behind negative feedback and use this knowledge to make smarter purchase decisions — which will allow your brand to build a sense of community.

Main takeaway: Negative reviews give potential customers insight and advice that may not otherwise be available. 

Bad reviews give you an opportunity to build trust

When consumers see a bad review for a product they are interested in, they want to see something else, too: how the business responds to that criticism. Interacting with customers who have had a negative experience shows you’re being proactive about addressing problems. This helps build brand trust.

For example, let’s say your product shipped later than anticipated because of an issue with the fulfillment center. Responding to the reviewer with an explanation of the problem shows everyone reading those reviews that it was an isolated issue, and not indicative of what they can expect from your business.

Main takeaway: Responding positively to negative reviews can actually increase trust in your business. 

Bad reviews help with SEO

Whether your reviews are positive, negative, or somewhere in between, they can still have a positive impact on your SEO. In fact, reviews account for more than 15% of Google ranking factors.

Even negative reviews often contain keywords that are relevant for your brand, which help when consumers are searching for products. If you don’t publish your negative reviews, you’re missing out on potential traffic to your website or products.

Main takeaway: Reviews — even negative ones — can positively boost your SEO. 

Bad reviews help you improve your business

Some bad reviews are one-offs, but if you see the same negative feedback over and over, it may be time to think about how you’re doing business. Reviews can offer insight on areas where you can improve your product or service, or better communicate with your customers.

For example, if a vast majority of customers are complaining about products not shipping or arriving when they’re supposed to, then you can either make changes to your shipping process or update the expected wait times on your website so you’re better meeting customer expectations.

Main takeaway: Use negative feedback to make changes that allow your business to better meet the needs of customers.

Don’t fear the negative reviews

Keep in mind that negative reviews are not all bad, and they can help your business in the long run. It’s all about understanding best practices on how to respond to negative reviews and combating them by gathering more reviews in general (because we know most of them will be good).

Yotpo can help you collect and get the most out of your customer reviews — good or bad. Learn more about how Yotpo Reviews can help your business build trust and drive revenue.