4 tips on how to react to negative reviews

Have you just received a critical review? This is certainly an unpleasant experience for you. After all, you offer the review system so that as many of your customers as possible can rate and share their positive shopping experiences in your shop. But even if you think your work has been absolutely flawless, a customer may feel differently about their purchase experience.

There can be many different reasons why customers express their dissatisfaction. One customer may want to share their individual experience with you, but also with other buyers. Another customer, on the other hand, expects a concrete solution or compensation, while yet another customer wants to vent their frustration because from their point of view something has gone wrong.

To enable you to respond to all these different reasons for criticism in the best possible way, we would like to give you a few tips.

Tip 1: React quickly and objectively

As a member of Trusted Shops you have the opportunity to respond to a critical review with a reply comment. Based on our many years of experience, we advise you to take advantage of this opportunity to comment on negative reviews promptly and to respond to the review. A response is recommended for two main reasons. On the one hand, by reacting quickly, you are showing that you are taking the criticism expressed seriously and that you appreciate its value. On the other hand, you have the option of informing the customer by e-mail about your response and thus of seeking a direct exchange. This e-mail also gives the person making the review the opportunity to subsequently change the submitted review if necessary. Simply activate the checkbox below your comment. 

But what is the best way to react to a critical review? At first you may be disappointed, shocked or even angry at the comments that have been made. These feelings are perfectly normal and understandable – after all, from your point of view, you have done everything you could to ensure that the order was processed correctly. In such an emotional situation it is difficult to respond objectively to a critical review. Before we go into the best approach to a response, we would therefore like to give you a few basic tips:

  • First, take a deep breath. Annoyance is a natural reaction to criticism that is perceived as unfair. But if you want to handle this criticism in a professional manner, this is not a good feeling to lean into.
  • Try not to take the review and the criticism expressed in it personally. A customer is not evaluating you as a person, but only their individual shopping experience.
  • Show empathy. Even if you do feel annoyed, try to put yourself in the position of the person making the review in order to understand the review from their perspective. Has a mistake actually been made by you, your team, or a service provider that could justify a negative review?
  • Remember that every customer review has its value. Your customer was asked to rate their order and they have taken the time to give feedback. You should appreciate this – even if the review does not meet your expectations.

Tip 2: Here’s how to write a compelling response

After you have taken heed of these tips and hopefully your initial feelings of annoyance have subsided, you can actively work to turn the negative review into something positive. Use the critical review to show the positive side of your customer service. This approach is worthwhile for two reasons. On the one hand, your reaction may help you to make a good impression on the disappointed person, so that they order something from you again in the future. On the other hand, other customers will see how you deal with criticism. They can experience your business-like and customer-friendly manner up close. This way they get the feeling that they are in good hands with you – even if there is a problem with an order.

But how do you write a comment like this? In the following list, we explain the four building blocks of an appropriate reply comment and how it can be structured.

Respond, thank, and show respect Even if you are annoyed by the review, the first thing to do is to say “thank you” for the review. The customer has responded to your review request and has taken their time to write a review. By showing appreciation for this, you present yourself as professional and empathetic. This also makes a positive impression on other people who may be reading the negative review.
Apologise It doesn't matter if it was you who actually made a mistake, if it was your shipping service provider who is to blame, or if it was just an unfortunate circumstance that triggered the issue. The fact is that the expectations of the buyer have not been fulfilled in this case. It is precisely by apologising, i.e. by dealing openly with criticism, that you prove that you are customer-oriented.
Respond to the criticism


Respond specifically to the criticisms made in the review and establish your position. This enables readers to form their own opinion about what has happened.
Conclusion Offer the customer a solution or compensation or make it clear that you deserve a second chance. Stay positive!

In order to illustrate what an appropriate response comment might look like, we would like to provide you with two hypothetical positive examples, which you can use as a starting point for your own reactions.

"Dear customer, thank you for providing your honest opinion. We are very sorry that your package did not arrive on time. Please be assured that this is an isolated case. In order to avoid this kind of situation, we did process your order right away. Unfortunately there was a delay in the delivery, which we understand is very frustrating. We hope that you will nevertheless enjoy your item and we would be very pleased if you visit our store again soon. Best regards, Your Onlineshop.de"
"Dear customer, thank you very much for your feedback. We are very sorry that you did not receive a free gift. Unfortunately you did not select this option when ordering. We would be pleased to send you your free gift with your next order. Simply click on your desired gift, and it will be included in the package. See you soon, your Onlineshop.de"

In addition to these positive approaches, there are some things you should avoid when dealing with customers who express criticism.

  • Sarcasm: "Thanks for this great review!"
  • Disparaging remarks: "That's a childish comment.", "I guess you can't read properly."
  • Threaten further consequences: "We will report your review", "We will be taking legal action against this review".
  • Deny everything: "Why would you say that? It’s untrue from start to finish", "This customer is lying", "This is a review of the parcel service provider, not our store".
  • Publicly attacking customers: "This customer was very unfriendly and insulted our employees", "We have terminated the business relationship with this customer".
  • Make your customers' personal data public.

Using these kinds of tactics means you lose any chance of winning back disappointed customers in the future. You will also leave a bad impression on potential new customers who are trying to get information about your shop based on the reviews. Who wants to shop with someone who reacts so irritably when something goes wrong?

Tip 3: How do I report a review?

Is a review of your shop deliberately offensive, is it demonstrably not true, or does it violate our terms and conditions for use? If this is the case you have the option of reporting the review. By doing this, you instigate a check of the review by our review team. To find out how to report a review, check out this article.

But please note: it is not always possible to remove reviews that you have reported. Freedom of expression sometimes also protects more sharply formulated criticism, even if it is perceived by you as unjustified or unfair. In this article we explain in detail what is required for a review to be deleted.

Tip 4: Respond to positive reviews too

So far, we have only dealt with negative reviews in this article. There is good reason for this – after all, these are particularly annoying from your perspective and should by no means go without comment. However, you should not forget to pay attention to your satisfied customers too. They also took the time to write a review and share their experiences with your shop. Reward this commitment by also responding to these reviews.

This does not mean that you necessarily have to answer every positive review – which often only consist of short messages such as "Everything is great" or "Keep up the good work". Instead, pick out individual reviews which show a lot of effort and enthusiasm. By responding individually to such reviews you show appreciation for your customers. This not only deepens your relationship with the person making the review, but can also improve your impression on potential new customers.

You can use the following table as a guide when formulating your reply comment:

Respond, thank, and show respect First of all, say thank you for the review and show appreciation for the effort your customer has made by addressing them individually.
Respond to specific praise about services or products Go back to the services and products mentioned and show your delight at the praise.
Conclusion Say goodbye and let them know that you are already looking forward to their next order.

When formulating your reply comment, make sure in particular that you do not use any text templates and that you address your customer individually. This is the best way to show real appreciation.

Was this article helpful?

66 out of 71 found this helpful