Review Management

1-star reviews: Example replies for negative feedback

How to respond to negative reviews on Google and other platforms

Joshua SaxonFebruary 26, 20249 min read
Quick summary
  • Most businesses get a 1-star review at some point, but it’s not the end of the world.
  • An effective response to a 1-star review can turn a negative situation into a positive demonstration of customer service.
  • Semrush Local makes replying to online reviews easier with AI writing assistants and streamlined processes.

Responding to negative reviews, especially those with a 1-star rating, is an important part of effective reputation management.

Ignoring a 1-star review can make a bad situation much worse. Similarly, responding in an overly defensive or conflictive manner can exacerbate the problem and negatively impact your local SEO. Fortunately, there are some guidelines to help you respond effectively, as well as tools to simplify the process.

Why responding to negative reviews matters

Addressing 1-star reviews isn't just about damage control; it's a chance to show how you handle negative customer experiences. Carefully crafted responses demonstrate responsiveness, care, and a commitment to rectifying issues.

A breakdown of review scores on Google

A breakdown of review scores on Google

Negative feedback is an opportunity to learn what matters to your customers and how to improve your business. A 1-star review may bring your overall rating down, but it doesn’t have to tarnish your reputation. Potential customers who read the 1-star review may find that your response dispels their doubts.

Users can sort Google reviews from lowest to highest. Some will look for shortcomings in your business, even if you have a 4.5+ average rating. However an effective reply to a 1-star review can actually improve your online reputation. Showing an active desire to fix problems builds trust and portrays your business as human. It proves you know when to apologize and make up for a mistake.

Google has confirmed that “more reviews and positive ratings can improve your business's local ranking.” Replying encourages people to leave reviews and even change a negative review. So it’s reasonable to say that good responses help you rank higher in local search.

Helping hand: If you don’t know exactly how to respond, get some pointers from Semrush’s AI writing tool. This handy feature is part of the Review Management tool and makes replying to 1-star reviews a lot easier.

How to respond to a negative review: The basics

Responses to reviews on top platforms like Google, Facebook, and Tripadvisor are public for other potential customers to read. So the first thing to do when you receive a negative online review is to get some perspective. Never reply to a scathing review as soon as you receive it, especially if it makes you feel angry or upset. 

 As the business owner, it’s natural to get emotional when someone is attacking your livelihood online. But it’s not worth risking your reputation further with a reply that only serves your bruised ego.

 You’re more likely to respond defensively and lose the opportunity to present your business in a positive light. Instead, construct a reply that demonstrates that management listens to customer feedback.

If you genuinely made a mistake, acknowledge the customer's complaint and apologize for it. Negative experiences are a fact of life, and sometimes you have to hold your hands up and take responsibility. Offer to resolve the issue or rectify the situation. That might mean a replacement product or service on the house. Express gratitude for the feedback and assure steps for improvement. Make it clear that you take all feedback seriously and use it for staff training to prevent similar incidents in the future.


A 1-star Google review with an owner response

A 1-star Google review with an owner response

Don’t use your reply to promote your business or share the positive experiences of other customers. Focus on the complaint and make it about the customer. Be personal and address the reviewer by name. Avoid cookie-cutter responses.

If there's not enough detail in the review to write a meaningful reply, ask the reviewer for more information. While you should always respond to 1-star reviews, it may be more practical to have the conversation offline.

Reach out to the customer if you’re able to identify them from their username. If not, provide direct contact information for further communication.If the review is completely unreasonable, you should still reply. Again, acknowledge the customer’s grievance and that you regret how they feel. Don’t take responsibility for anything that your business wasn’t to blame for. Politely explain your point of view, but don’t personally attack the reviewer or engage them in an argument.It may be appropriate to report the review if it’s in conflict with Google’s policies (more on this below).

Nice and tidy: From easy review management to ordered listings, Semrush Local keeps your local SEO in good order. 

How to respond to a negative Google review: Step-by-step 

Before you can reply to any kind of review on Google, you first need to claim your Google Business Profile. Once logged in, look up your business in Search and click on the reviews in the profile or “Read reviews” in the dashboard. Start typing your reply under the review and publish once you’re happy that it’s ready for the reviewer and public to see.

Follow links in push notifications or in email notifications to reply as soon as new reviews come in. Or you can monitor reviews on Google, Facebook, and other platforms at the same time with a review manager like Semrush.

GBP analysis: Get a clearer look at what’s going on with your Google Business Profile with Semrush Local

How to report a 1-star review

If the review goes against Google’s policies, you can report it to the search engine and ask them to remove it. These might be reviews that defame members of staff, use abusive language, or aren’t from a genuine customer.

First, click the three dots to the right of the review.


A Google review and the menu to report it

A Google review and the menu to report it

Next, select “Report review”.

Provide the information Google asks for; for example, if you think the review is “spam” or a “conflict of interest”.

The Google review reporting interface

The Google review reporting interface

Google will get back to you with their decision within three business days.

Reputation is everything: With so many places to leave reviews, you need a way to gauge the general consensus. Use Semrush’s Review Management to see your reviews across multiple platforms from one place.


1-star review response examples

Whether responding on Google or social media, there are some standard replies you can adapt to address the complaint. Negative review replies aren’t easy, but these 1-star review response examples should help you keep things professional.


A negative Facebook review

A negative Facebook review

Acknowledgement and apology

"We're genuinely sorry to hear about your experience. Your feedback matters to us, and we apologize for falling short of your expectations. Please reach out so we can make things right."


Offering assistance or resolution

"We'd love the opportunity to rectify this. Could you kindly reach out to our customer support team? We're committed to addressing your concerns promptly and finding a solution."


Expressing gratitude for feedback

"Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We're grateful for your feedback and we aim to learn from this to improve our services."


Promising improvement

"Your experience isn't reflective of our standards and we're working diligently to prevent such instances. Your input is invaluable as we continue to work on improving our services."


Providing direct contact for resolution

"We'd like to connect with you directly to understand your concerns better. Please email or call and our team will prioritize your issue."


Asserting company values

"Customer satisfaction is our priority. We regret that your experience didn't meet our usual standards. Rest assured, we're committed to delivering better experiences."


Offering a gesture of goodwill

"By way of apology, we'd like to offer [compensation or discount] for the inconvenience caused. Your satisfaction is important to us and we hope to make it up to you."


Inviting a second chance

"We understand your disappointment and would appreciate the chance to regain your trust. We'd be grateful for another opportunity to serve you better."


Personalized follow-up

"I personally want to extend my apologies for the inconvenience you faced. Let's schedule a call at your convenience to discuss this further and find the best way to address your concerns."


Expressing empathy and understanding

"We understand the frustration caused and genuinely empathize with your situation. We're here to listen and work together to find a resolution that suits you best."

Remember to personalize your response to fit the specific situation and show genuine concern for the customer's bad experience.

Start with listings: Customers can’t leave reviews if you don’t have a presence on their platform of choice. Semrush’s Listing Management publishes listings on more than 150+ global directories so you can build your reputation faster.

How responding to feedback benefits review generation

Addressing negative feedback positively demonstrates proactive customer service and a company that actively engages with its customers. But replying to customers isn't just good manners—it can boost your review count too.

A study by Harvard Business Review discovered that businesses received 12% more customer reviews when they sent courteous replies. Moreover, a look at TripAdvisor hotel reviews revealed that replies sparked a 0.12 increase in average ratings on a scale of 1 to 5.


A 1-star review response on Tripadvisor

A 1-star review response on Tripadvisor

When customers see proactive involvement from businesses, it builds trust and motivates them to contribute their own reviews. This is likely because it’s clear that someone will listen to them.

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Reply the right way with Semrush Local’s review management tool

Managing both positive and negative reviews can be a time-consuming process for busy small businesses. Lean on Semrush Local to make replying to reviews and understanding customer sentiment far more efficient.

Clear average review charts

Addressing individual reviews makes every customer feel appreciated and heard. But it's also important to take regular looks at the bigger picture.

Semrush Local provides easy-to-read charts so you can see the percentage of 1-star reviews you’ve received.
Review charts in Semrush Local

Know your competition

Reviews are an important local ranking factor, so you need to keep an eye on how well your competitors are doing.

Semrush Local gives you the competition’s total review count, response rate, average rating, and recent reviews. Use this data to enhance your local SEO strategy, set targets for review generation, and climb the local rankings.
Competitor reviews as reported in Semrush Local

Streamline replies

Finding the time to share personal replies with your customers isn’t always easy for small businesses with lots of people to serve.

That’s why Semrush built an AI writing assistant into its Review Management tool.
Now, you can give your customers the personal response they deserve in no time at all. Auto-replies for negative reviews are available for premium subscribers who want to address these comments even faster with the full power of AI.
Replying to a review on the Semrush Local platform

More listings, more reviews

Google Business Profile is the most common place to leave reviews, but there are dozens of other platforms.

Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor…there are lots of sites where customers can publish their feedback, but you need a presence on them first.

Semrush’s Listing Management can connect you to 150+ directories the smart way (you only have to submit your details once). All the relevant sites monitored by our review management tool come from our comprehensive list of directories.
A mockup of Semrush’s Listing Management
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