Positive reviews make a business. Meanwhile, negative reviews very well may break one. Damage-control is, however, possible if the bad reviews are responded to hastily and professionally, and aren't allowed to escalate. Therefore, knowing how to respond to negative reviews is key.

Before choosing a new restaurant to eat at, a new estate agency to work with, or a new SaaS software to incorporate into a business' set of tools, potential customers search products and companies online, looking for reviews. After all, aren't reviews the best way to find out the experience others are having?

With this in mind, it's extremely important to manage your online reviews - especially negative ones. Research shows that negative reviews drive away 94% of customers. Additionally, the online reviews you receive has an undeniably large impact on your business' online search visibility.

With this How to Respond to Negative Reviews checklist, it will mean that, as a customer support team member, you're replying with haste and in a concise, appropriate manner to all types of review

Logging information:

When using Process Street checklists, you can assign certain tasks to people.

You might want to assign the information logging tasks to a VA if you have one. They can then input the information so you can get started with your reply. If you don't have a VA, then start the process yourself. 

Record details

Record the details of the reviewer using the form fields below.

Negative reviews can have a positive outcome for businesses. By logging the details of the reviewers and why they're making the review, the entire company can learn from the data, and in turn, improve their product or they way they go about certain business processes.

Classify the review

Classify what type of review the review is using the dropdown below.

Types of review

A competitor review, a real review, and a spam review all have distinct identities. 

A competitor review will usually be unrelenting, and try and force readers of the review to try and switch to their option: it's quite transparent.

A real review, although negative, won't try and force the reader's hand into trying other software - they'll say what they don't like and why without the excessive hyperbole.

Spam can often contain vague language which doesn't quite fit with the company or product, nonsensical phrases, and sometimes, there will be no language at all.

Spam review example


Crafting an answer:

Begin process of replying

Ensure correct name has been put into the "Reviewer's name (or username)" field in step 3.

Using a customer's name (or username) will make them feel like they're being listened to, which is essential for customer retention. For more on customer retention, we've written a customer success guide eBook.

A nifty feature of Process Street is that, by using variables, you can redirect information from one task to another. Here, we're redirecting the reviewer's name or username straight to step 11, where your collated reply will be.

Thank them for sending a review

Write a line thanking them for their response.

This task is a simple one. Thanking the reviewer for their review will help to establish dialogue for change.

Ensure the tone you're deploying is the right one. You don't want to be over the top in your reply, though neither do you want to say 'thanks'.

Here are some variations to try:
"Thank you for taking the time to write this review." 
"Thanks for your honest review."
"We appreciate the time you've taken to write this review."


Write appropriate apology

Write an appropriate apology to the reviewer.

Writing an apology is often necessary, but it can also be a tough line to tow.

As a customer service team member, it's your duty to ensure good relations with your customer base. When replying to reviews, you don't want to be overly apologetic, otherwise you're assuming blame for a problem your company or product may or may not have even caused in the first place. Therefore, this next step depends on the review's issue(s)

An apology should be made if the user has had a bad experience with buggy software or improper customer service, for example.

However, if the reviewer couldn't work out how to use the product themselves then left an angry review, using a line like "We're sorry you had a negative experience. Would you like to book a call with one of our team members to help guide you through the software?" is a better option.

Appropriate apology example 



Offer solution

Offer the reviewer a solution to their problem.

Negative reviews are written by users who have had a particularly bad experience, but it doesn't mean the experience has to remain a bad one. A customer support team member can always turn the atmosphere around.

By offering customers and ex-customers a solution for the issues they've had, it will give them the chance to see your company cares about their user base. This will help to immobilize churn. 


Follow up with CTA question

Follow up with CTA question.

It's important to follow up with a call to action question; it's a way for you to reach out and retain the customer.

For instance, "My email address is <email>. Here we can discuss matters further. Would this be an option you're interested in?" could be used as a way to help both customer engagement and retention.

It shows the customer support team care about the user base.


Review collated reply and edit

Read through the collated reply. If it doesn't work, edit it in the text box below.

Now it's time to review the collated response, with thanks to the information-pulling magic of variables.

If the sentences don't follow on from each other, try and make them flow by adding a short sentence in between. Use the box below for redrafting collated response into a fully-fledged, publishable reply.

Hello {{form.Reviewer's_name_(or_username)}},

Pre-publish checks:

Ensure appropriate tone

Reread the reply and ensure appropriate tone throughout.

Using the right tone is crucial. Customers who have written a negative review want to be taken seriously. This isn't the time to use emojis or slang; instead, deploy a direct, helpful tone.

Review response


Check length of reply

Check the reply's length.

Make sure the length of your reply is a good fit; if the reviewer wrote a long, detailed response, they most likely won't appreciate a two-sentence reply. They want to be listened to and heard - give them this impression with the length of your own response.

Analyze through Grammarly

Have Grammarly installed, then analyze the text through Grammarly.

Grammarly is a wonderful (free!) grammar checker. Considering we all make typos and other mistakes, having Grammarly installed either as a web extension or on your computer will help you to create a professional, strong review reply

Proofread it yourself

Proofread the reply yourself.

Although Grammarly is certainly a fantastic piece of software, it doesn't pick up every mistake. For example, it sometimes registers the wrong word as a correct word. Look for any small errors the software didn't pick up on.

Grammarly mistake example

Record final reply

Use the text field below to record your final reply below.

After crafting and editing your review response, paste the final version in the text field underneath this text. Recording the message will help you to reference back to what you replied with.

A stop task can be added here, so until the final reply has been recorded and pasted, it's not possible to move on with the rest of the checklist.

Going live:

Get approval for reply

Get approval for your written reply.

Your reply is nearly ready to go.

If necessary, have your line manager check your reply before hitting the send button.

If your line manager is focusing on other work, then a peer review is just as good. For a 23-point peer editing checklist, this guide has you covered.

Assign your line manager or colleague to review the reply with the 'assign' button at the top. Then, add a due date so the task is completed within a certain timeframe.

Look at the example below to see how we've assigned the task with a due date. Read our Help page for more information on assigning tasks.

Assigning example

Log in to the correct account

Log in to the correct account.

Before publishing your reply, double-check you're replying from the right account. This could mean from a specific employee's account, or the company-wide account.

If your team employees VAs, this step and the following step can be assigned to a VA so the final reply can be published. 

If there aren't any VAs on the team, continue with the process yourself.

Publish reply

Send the reply to the reviewer.

It's now time for what you've written to go live. Publish the reply on the platform where the original review came from.

Congratulations! You've successfully responded to the negative review. 

Each time you need to reply to a negative review, run this How to Respond to Negative Reviews checklist to log information, craft a reply, and publish it online


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