Responding Constructively to Readers’ Reviews


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If you have a web presence for business, everyone has access to your presence and people love to make themselves heard. Some of the reviews online will be positive and many will be negative. Responding effectively is critical to you.

How should you respond to negative reviews?

When people like something, they can be very nice about it online. However, when people don’t like something, their words can be scathing at times. The important thing is not what they say. The important thing is what you do about what they say. The first question that comes to mind is whether you should respond at all to a really negative review. Of course, if you don’t respond, you are giving your online reviewers the fodder to think the worst. On the other hand, if you do respond but your response is not what it should be, you are running the risk of making things worse than they were before.

There are different ways that you can approach the people who have written negative reviews. The ideas will be laid out here and you can use them as is or adapt them to your particular business and hope that they work effectively for you.

The issue

Before you can even consider responding to a negative review, you need to try to identify the problem, especially if you see a pattern. If several people are saying more or less the same thing over and over again, you need to try to fix the problem before anything else. First and foremost, you need to protect your reputation. There are several reputation managements tools that can help you to identify patterns and once you have been able to accomplish that, you can begin to think about a solution.

The bottom line

No matter how negative the review was, your response must be well thought out, genuine and carefully written. It is important to remember that you represent your brand. In fact, you are your brand. With that in mind, you must protect your brand and your company’s reputation at all costs. It is very important that you pay close attention to details and that you articulate properly in your response. One of your goals is to positively affect the reviewer and you won’t achieve that if your writing is formal and impersonal. You must sincerely express your gratitude for the fact that the reviewer took the time to write to you, even if if was painful to read. Let your reviewer understand that you greatly appreciate the feedback and that you will use it to improve upon your products and/or services. It is critical that you respond to the reviewer quickly and express how important their feedback is to your business.

How to respond

If your reviewer’s subject matter in their review is concerning pricing, it is very important that your response to them is not in any way defensive, patronizing or hostile. You should communicate to them that you know that your prices are comparable to the prices of your competitors and explain why they should be choosing your products and/or services over your competitors’ products and/or services. Communicate clearly exactly what your edge is and why it will benefit them. Be careful not to knock them over the head with your sales strategy. Subtlety generally works most effectively and it is wise to employ that approach.

It is not personal

When a reviewer write the review, as difficult as it is to remember, the person has probably not written the review because of any personal feelings. If the reviewer in any way makes it personal, you will respond in a certain way. On the other hand, if the review is all about business, you will respond in a different way. Personal attacks can be very upsetting and the situation should be handled carefully. You will most likely understand how to respond based on what is being said and hopefully, you will handle the situation effectively.

Circumstances: in and out of your control

There are times when you make mistakes. It happens to everyone. If that happens, recognize the error to the reviewer, apologize for it and move on. If you don’t demonstrate a gesture of good faith, you may be damaging your reputation and that is the last thing that you need to do. For those things that are under your control, you need to tackle the problem so that it doesn’t happen again. It all goes back to reputation.


There is no business in the world that has never experienced some negative feedback. It is bound to happen. What is important is what you do with that information. You should regard it as a learning experience and a chance to improve your business. It is important to have a strategy in mind for when you receive the negative reviews. If you have done your homework and are prepared, you won’t have any problem. It is important for you to pay attention to what people are saying and make sure that the perception that you create of you and your business helps you to build valuable and sustaining relationships. Remember that it is usually the negative experiences that will teach you the most and that you will remember the most clearly.

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Carolyn Cohn

Co-Founder and Chief Editor at CompuKol Communications LLC

Carolyn Cohn is the Chief Editor of CompuKol Communications LLC. Mrs. Cohn has a wealth of experience in business writing as well as having a strong editorial background. She manages all of the company’s writers, journalists and editors as well as writing, editing and publishing several business articles a week on a consistent basis, which are syndicated globally.

Mrs. Cohn has run several editorial departments for other companies. She has over 25 years of editorial experience and her expertise covers a wide range of media, such as online editing, and editing books, journal articles, abstracts, and promotional and educational materials.

Throughout her career, Mrs. Cohn has established and maintained strong relationships with professionals from a wide variety of companies. The principle that governs her work is that all words need to be edited.

Mrs. Cohn earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo.

Mrs. Cohn is a member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA).

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