Branding & Marketing Retail 101

The 10 Types of Negative Reviews (And How To Respond To Them!)

You can’t make everyone happy, and sooner or later someone will let you have it. So what should you do when you get negative reviews? The worst thing to do is to respond rudely and angrily. If you’ve avoided that, you’re already doing great. So what are your options?

  • Do nothing
  • Try to get the author to take the review down
  • Write a public response to the review
  • Try to get the website to take the review down (will only work if the review violates guidelines)

Depending on what type of negative review you’ve gotten, one or a combination of these will be your best course of action. So what strategy should you deploy on your own negative reviews?

10) The Bad Customer Service Review

negative review
bad review
rude negative review

This is by far the most common negative review for any business that has a physical location. It’s also one of the trickiest reviews to manage because unless you were personally there, you’re left with a case of ‘he said, she said.’ 

Is it possible your employee was rude? Of course. Is it equally possible or even more likely that this customer was rude themselves, or interpreted neutral behavior as rude? Of course. 

That being said, ‘the customer is always right,’ is the overarching philosophy in American businesses. Because of that, it’s best to treat these unhappy reviewers with respect and respond politely to their reviews. 

Let them know you’re sorry they had that experience, that your store normally has great customer service, and that you appreciate them letting you know what happened. 

If you get multiple reviews complaining about the same lack of customer service, make sure you address your staff and change how you train people in the future. 

9) The Customer Felt Ghosted Review

These reviews are much likelier to happen when dealing with online orders, but they can also crop up when people call in and try to get information. 

Unlike many types of negative reviews, these are almost always the fault of the business. There’s no excuse for ghosting customers, especially if they’ve already spent money. 

If you get reviews like this, you should absolutely respond by apologizing profusely and offering a refund. And if your store is regularly dropping the ball on communicating with customers, you should prioritize improving as soon as possible. 

8) The Unhappy Price Checker Review

Some people compare and check prices everywhere they go, including your store. And for some, not having the lowest price will qualify you for a bad review. 

These reviews are tough. We can all empathize with wanting the lowest price possible; however, there are many valid reasons why your shop won’t be able to price match with Amazon and other huge retailers. 

It’s acceptable to simply leave these reviews there, and not respond at all. If you do choose to respond, don’t make excuses or get defensive. Just be honest, explain that you’re a small business and not a giant corporation. That means in exchange for supporting the local economy and getting excellent customer service, you might pay a few more dollars on some purchases. 

7) The Hidden Fee Review

People hate any fees they aren’t warned about, so do your best to be as transparent as possible. If you do get a negative ‘hidden fee’ review, a response like this owner left is your best bet. 

Not only is the business owner polite and validating of the reviewer, but they also explain their policies and clarify the situation to the readers. 

If we only had the review, it would be easy to assume that the store was unreasonable, $15 does seem like a lot to pay for gift wrapping. However, by reading the owner’s review, we learn that this person brought in outside gifts and wanted them gift wrapped, they weren’t for purchases made in the store. Not only that, but we learn the store has multiple signs informing people of the prices. 

If you receive any type of negative review that has incorrect or misleading information in it, make sure to clarify when you respond. You don’t want future customers to be misled when reading reviews. 

6) The ‘I Feel Ripped Off’ Review

These reviews can be in regards to price, quality, or both. They’re another category where it’s not so much about ‘the truth,’ it’s about how your business made someone feel.

Responding politely and adding any relevant clarifying facts is your best bet. Depending on the complaint, you may also want to change your prices or store policies surrounding these products. 

5) The ‘I’m An Angry Weirdo Who Doesn’t Know What’s Going On’ Review

angry weirdo leaves negative review

(Left on an item that is clearly NOT buttons)

Ah yes, the internet, where everyone has a voice. Unfortunately, that truly means everyone, including people who have a loose grasp on reality at best. 

If you’ve been left one of these negative reviews, you have a few options. First, show other people the review just to double-check that everyone agrees this review isn’t based in reality. Your first two options are to either not respond or to respond politely like you normally would. 

And, if you’re really confident in your writing abilities, a third option is to be a little tongue and cheek with your response. Don’t be mean and put them down, but sometimes using a little humor on unhinged reviews can make you seem friendly and grounded in reality to future readers. 

4) The Person Who Was Offended Review

palm oil is evil

Sometimes negative reviews aren’t about specific interactions, but rather big-picture philosophies the customer has. Even if you disagree with the opinions of the reviewers, these reviews are still valuable information. 

For each person who leaves a review complaining about a specific ingredient or policy, there are dozens and maybe even hundreds of people who feel the same way and didn’t say anything. Leaving a polite response or not responding can work for these reviews, it depends on if you feel you have something useful to say to the reviewer. 

3) I Don’t Like This One Specific Policy Review

Sometimes reviews can be extremely specific. Again, you can choose whether or not you want to respond politely and explain, or let the review sit there unanswered. If you have a clear and compelling reason a specific policy has been put into place, answering may be your best bet. 

No matter what you decide to do, these reviews can be helpful temperature gauges on how people feel about your store policies. 

2) The Hateful/ Against Website Policy Review

owner responds to negative review

As a business owner, you’re expected to take fair and unfair criticism, but that doesn’t extend to blatantly hateful comments. 

If reviews are left attacking the religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or other traits about you or your employees, please contact the website and get the review taken down.

Responding to these reviews is not recommended, but if you feel compelled to, keep it professional.  Remember that you’re dealing with an unreasonable person, so you’re unlikely to get a reasonable response. 

1) The ‘I Wanted To Be Positive But I Just Couldn’t’ Review

person is upset so leaves negative review

Not all negative reviews are written by angry people reliving their childhood trauma by taking it out on your business. Some are written by genuinely decent people who really do mean well but experienced something less than positive with your business. 

Pay extra attention to this type of review. If a reviewer compliments parts of your business and just has an issue with one or two things, they’ve proven themselves not just to be an angry person. 

It’s likely that your business did really drop the ball in the categories they’re describing, and that they’re just trying to inform you of this. Leave these reviewers a nice comment back, thanking them for their critique, and genuinely consider what they’ve said. 

Although no one wants to receive any negative reviews, that’s simply not an option for business owners. Instead, take a breath, check to see what parts of the review are accurate, and most importantly, check for trends. 

If one review says your return policy is confusing, take it with a grain of salt. However, if four people say the same thing, change your return policy. If you can take negative reviews in stride, they can actually be extremely helpful in improving your business. 

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