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Scary Customer Feedback & How to Respond

Halloween may be the spookiest time of year, but as a business owner or manager one of the scary things you can face any time of year is negative customer feedback.

It might be appealing to focus on all of the positive feedback, especially if negative reviews are few and far between. While negative feedback might look like a terrible monster you don’t want to face, ignoring this valuable feedback from your customers is usually a mistake, and there’s plenty of studies to back that up!

No matter what your customers are saying, it’s important to take the time to listen to each of them and see what you can do to improve your business.

Woman looking scared at her phone

The Do’s and Don’ts


Acknowledge: Ignoring a customer’s feedback is not a habit you want for your business. In fact, most customers expect a response within 24 hours. Make a practice of responding to all feedback, both positive and constructive.

Apologize: Most people are put at ease just from an apology, and you can certainly apologize for a poor experience even if you see things differently.

Say Thank You: They took the time to give you feedback, even if their intention was just to vent, and that’s valuable!

Take Responsibility: You may feel your staff wasn’t rude, your product is great, etc. but your customer had a poor experience. Build the relationship by taking ownership of the situation.

Be Genuine: Canned responses can help as a starting point, but most customers can spot a blanket response a mile away. It’s even worse if it’s clear from the response that you didn’t read their feedback! Be sincere by customizing your reply.

Make it Right: Whatever the complaint is, do what you can to make up for what they experienced. Your apology will often suffice, but in other cases you may want to take the conversation offline and resolve their complaint further.

Learn: Some reviews will share an opinion that you disagree with, and that’s ok. What’s not going to benefit you is to write off criticism as “wrong”. Reflect with your team on the feedback in the review, and how you can improve.


Ignore: Hopefully I’ve convinced you to acknowledge negative AND positive reviews! For good measure, check out how positive and negative reviews create a community among your customers where you should have a voice.

Get Defensive: Have you ever stumbled across a debate between a business and a customer online? The brand representative hardly ever looks good. Strike a balance between standing behind your business, and respecting your customer’s opinion.

Tell Them They’re Wrong: This is especially tough if a customer makes a claim you know to be untrue, or if you just disagree with their perspective. Customer Service 101 tells us that arguing with a customer isn’t going to end well. Which brings us to...

Resolve In Public: No matter the conversation, don’t let it continue past the initial response in public. If it’s online, take it to your direct messages, email, or a phone call. Rule of thumb, respond once and offer the appropriate outlet to continue the conversation if the situation warrants it.

Customer Comment Cards

Common Feedback, and How to Respond

Now that we have the basic Do’s and Don’ts of responding to customer feedback, below are a few (fictitious!) examples of common negative reviews and how you might respond. Don’t forget, a canned response isn’t going to cut it!

We’ll assume these responses are for online reviews, but your conversation may look different depending on the outlet. You’ll have more options over email for instance, whereas Twitter will have to be 280 characters or less!

“I had bad service”

Hi John, I’m very sorry to hear you had a poor experience with our team. We aim for a high standard when providing our guest experience, and it’s clear we missed that mark. We’d love the chance to make your next visit a great one. Please ask for me next time you come in, and I will take care of you personally. Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your experience, and I hope we have another opportunity to offer you great service. - Kristen

“Your product was bad”

Hi Sarah, thank you for your feedback on our product. We are very committed to the quality of the products we offer, and I’m sorry to hear that we didn’t meet your expectations and the level of quality we aim for. Please give me a call at 555-555-5555 or send us a direct message, and I’d like to discuss how we can make this right. - Kristen

“I can’t get anyone to answer me”

Hi Sam, thank you for reaching out, and bringing this to our attention. I’m sure it is frustrating that you don’t have an answer, and I would like to apologize that you have not received a response. We pride ourselves on our customer service, and I will evaluate how your communication may have slipped through the cracks. I will follow up with you at the phone number you’ve provided to resolve your question. - Kristen

Looking for more tips on how to reach your target audience? Check out more posts from the HighRock team, and give us a call to see how we can help!