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7 Types of Negative Reviews and How To Respond Like a Pro

Every business owner that WebPunch partners with wants to get more reviews, and we’re happy to deliver! Our tools and expertise help to make their feedback and review dreams come true. As with most things, this includes some bad along with all the good, and a dreaded negative review will inevitably appear on one of our client’s business pages. 

Perhaps you’re experiencing some writers’ block when confronted with a tricky negative review, and if so, you’ve come to the right place! Not responding to negative reviews should not be an option, it not only negatively impacts your search rankings but also leaves your potential clients wondering if you’re able to handle concerns professionally. There are some easy-to-use strategies we use that we’d like to share with you. While we are well-versed in the niche field of writing meaningful positive review responses, we’re also particularly adept at responding to negative reviews

We’re sharing seven types of negative reviews that we generally see posted. We’re proud to let you take a peek behind the curtain and see some tactics that help us to create amazing responses in sometimes difficult situations. 

Based on our team’s experience, the list below contains common types of negative reviews that are posted on a company’s business listings. 

We’ve included guiding principles that are specific to responses in each review type, and help our team when we respond on behalf of our clients. For each review category, we’ve also included an example review and response. 

1. Problem Solver 

There are times that the business owner or manager isn’t even aware there was an issue with the client, and the review is the first they hear of the situation. When this type of review is posted, it’s an opportunity to take on a difficult conversation and tactfully respond to address the concerns head-on.

A response to a review that brings a new problem to light is a chance to mend fences. The ideal response in these situations lets the reviewer know that the team will be in touch as soon as possible to address the issue and help in any way possible. 

There are many times that our clients have been able to connect with their customers after the review is posted, and their prompt response has encouraged the reviewer to change the review to reflect a positive interaction, and ideally raise the star rating along with it. 

The example below shows the review initially posted, along with our response, which ultimately led to the updated 5-star review shown in the screenshot underneath. 


Google Review, 1-Star Review 

Have used the service successfully for the last 2 years, but this Summer has been an atrocity. We’ve had a pool built this Summer and have been very understanding of the difficulties that provides for Mosquito Joe with workers present. However, multiple times the technician would show up and leave saying that he didn’t have access to the back or that there were workers present. (In at least 2 cases, there were no workers on those days) My wife and I just sat here this afternoon while on the phone and watched a technician show-up and leave a door hanger saying that there were workers present and left. There’s a single worker in the back who we easily could’ve asked to take a break for 30 minutes while they sprayed…but we weren’t given that chance b/c there was no call or knock on the door. When we called the office, the person who answered the phone clarified what we had already gotten from the door hanger. I have 4 kids who have bites from head-to-toe from our yard and so these sprays are vital.

WebPunch Response: 

We would first like to thank you for your two years of service. We are sorry that this season didn’t live up to your expectations. But, we are happy that we could reach out to communicate with you. We hope your complimentary services are helping to restore your yard to the swat-free paradise you’ve grown accustomed to. Please know that we will do everything we can to make this right and restore your confidence in our service for years to come. 


After our response was posted, the reviewer changed their review. See below: 


2. More to The Story 

Reviews that fall into this category don’t accurately reflect what occurred. These present a unique challenge as you will need to illustrate what took place from your perspective and do it gently without encouraging more public back and forth with the client.

The best response when you need to restate the facts showcases your listening prowess and your empathy with the reviewers’ understanding of the scenario. You’ll need to weave your perspective of what actually took place and clarify any policies or standards that will best explain the situation to your client as well as to potential customers. 

This type of response can be an opportunity to educate the reviewer about your processes and standards, which can clarify misunderstandings. It’s okay to point out the facts of the case without being curt or unkind. Beware of coming across as defensive when you respond, even if you’ve been attacked in the review. It’s always best to remain positive and provide details that illustrate your expertise with your services and products. You don’t want to call them a liar publicly; rather, you do want to clear up the misunderstanding so that your potential clients have a better picture of the reality of the situation, and see that you are always accessible if issues arise. 


3. Mistaken Identity 

There are times you may find that someone has posted a review on your page and it’s meant for another business. When you cannot find the person in your client database and they haven’t worked with you, your response needs to spell this out.

When our clients experience Mistaken Identity reviews, the responses we craft clearly state how we know they aren’t a client, and we include contact information and an offer to help them find the business that they worked with.

Because these reviews aren’t a genuine experience with the business, we also report the review to Google or Yelp for content violations. This is not a sure-fire method to have a review taken down, but it is an opportunity to have it reviewed for removal with the support team at Google or Yelp.

The example review and response below resulted in a best-case scenario for the business owner. After posting the response, the reviewer called the business and discovered that another location performed their inspection, and they removed the review. 


Cary Sanchez., 1-star

Google Review

Had a home inspection done on a property we purchased April 2018. To date we have not been able to move in as there was massive structural damage to the property. I informed them and asked they file a error and omission report with their liability insurance as this was recommended not only by an attorney but the area director of Pillar to Post. They have done nothing. If we would have known the extent of the damage we never would have purchased. A thorough inspection would have easily caught at least some of the issues. Please do not use this company.

WebPunch Response: 

It’s upsetting to read your review, Cary. Unfortunately, our team cannot locate a customer file with your name. We would like to learn more about this situation as it isn’t familiar, and we believe you may have worked with another business. Could you please give us a call at (XXX) XXX-XXXX? That way, we can address your concerns and get down to the bottom of this matter. We would like to help you find a resolution in the best way that we can.


4. The High Road

There are times that a negative review is going to really grind your gears. The reviewer may attack you or your staff, state false claims, and post things that leave you fuming mad.

Now is not the time for a hasty response! It’s very easy to come across as defensive in these situations, and it’s important that you remain professional and slightly removed from the situation so that you can be tactful. When we draft responses to these doozies for our clients, we are always thinking of how potential clients will read our response, and we make sure to balance that out with our clients’ true feelings about the reviewer. 

Sometimes, the right response will clarify the false claims in the review. If your response takes the high road, outsiders will view that your thoughtful response defused a tense situation. 


5. Detractor to Promoter

There are times that a business just doesn’t live up to its brand proposition. When this is the case, a review response should offer an apology to make things right. Mistakes happen, unexpected changes occur, and saying sorry goes a long way.

It’s possible that your detractor could ultimately become your promoter, and your response to a negative review can steward this customer relationship back towards becoming a positive experience. 


6. Not Enough Info 

These reviews may not have a comment, or the manager or staff may not have any idea about what prompted the negative review. These responses are straightforward and ask the client to provide more information so that issues can be addressed right away. 


7. Unwanted Exit Interview 

Although there are review sites dedicated to employee reviews, it’s common for businesses to see reviews from current or ex-employees on their Google and Yelp listings.

Content guidelines for both sites indicate that content in reviews should be based on client experiences, so it’s important to work with Google and Yelp in these instances to see if you can encourage them to have the review removed. 

You will also need to respond to the review and inform the reviewer that the business listing isn’t the right platform to express their grievances. It’s important that you politely include this information, and without going into detail, express some sympathy that the position didn’t work for them, and any other details that might be appropriate. 

Once you’ve completed your draft for any review category, edit it carefully and make sure that you have addressed all the questions below to ensure you’ve created the perfect response. 

Negative Response Evaluation Categories:

  1. Did you address the negative reviewer’s concerns in a satisfactory way?
  2. Did you respond in the voice of your brand?
  3. Is the tone of the review appropriate?
  4. Are sentences structured in a logical way? Does the response contain any grammatical errors?
  5. Could someone have written the response in a way that would be received more favorably by prospective customers?

We hope that this sampling of negative review types has provided you with some strategies and encouragement to respond to even your toughest negative reviews! 

Our team at WebPunch loves talking about feedback and reviews. From review generation to tailored responses, we’re the online reputation masters that you want to have in your corner! If you have any questions about our services, please reach out to Matt Jones at matt@webpunch.com