Common Complaints Your Business Might Get & How to Respond

Did you know that 70% of consumers rely on online reviews before making a purchasing decision? Your online reputation is an increasingly important aspect of your digital marketing strategy. After managing the web presence for several local businesses, I noticed a common theme among many negative reviews they received online. Here are the most common complaints local businesses tend to encounter, what you can learn from them, and how you can respond. 

Why It’s Important to Respond to Complaints

Before we get into some common complaints, let’s talk about why responding to reviews is important: Responding to reviews and complaints online not only gives you an opportunity to resolve an issue and win back a customer, but it also gives potential customers an idea of who you are as a business owner. Because the majority of consumers do look at reviews before choosing a company to do business with, your reviews and the way you respond to them could be the first impression they have of your business.

Now, let’s look at some common reviews.

Review #1: The Long Wait

The Review: “I don’t recommend this practice at all. I got here at 1:30 for my 1:45 p.m. doctor’s appointment. I finished the paperwork before 1:45 but still didn’t even get called back until 2:45 p.m. and then waited another 30 minutes to see the doctor. There didn’t even seem to be that many people there, so I’m not sure what was taking so long. My whole day was spent waiting here!”

The Takeaway: Clearly, this reviewer is unhappy that they waited longer than usual at the doctor’s office. Customers and patients often get upset when they feel like they’re not receiving the level of service they deserve, so if you see a review like this for your business, make internal changes either in the way you communicate wait times to your patrons or in the way you make appointments.

How to Respond: Let your patient know you understand their frustration and will work on providing a better experience for them during their next visit. Ask them to contact your office directly so you can let them know what you’re planning on doing for improving their next visit.

Review #2: The Rude Employee

The Review: “I went to this florist to buy some flowers for my mom. When I walked up to the cash register, the saleswoman was on the phone – she wouldn’t even look at me! After waiting for a couple of minutes and finally clearing my throat, she hung up her phone call and rolled her eyes at me. I’ve never encountered such a rude person before! Will not be returning.”

The Takeaway: No matter how harsh a review that is critical of an employee is, it’s important to take the reviewer’s feedback into consideration and identify whether or not your employees are creating an unhappy environment for your customers. You can use this feedback as a training moment to remind all your employees how you want your business to treat customers.

How to Respond: Let the reviewer know you appreciate their feedback and that you’ve shared it with your team. Share what you’re doing to address the situation and how to contact you directly to address their concerns offline.

Review #3: Unhappy With the Product or Service

The Review: “I called this plumber about a leaky toilet. They came out, gave me a quote that seemed fair, and completed the work. But, the next day, my toilet is leaking again! Now I have to call another company to come out and fix the toilet I thought was already fixed. Not happy!”

The Takeaway: As a business owner, it’s never fun to get a complaint about your products or services. But, it’s important feedback to know. Maybe you need to look at a different parts supplier if you see a trend in complaints involving specific parts. Perhaps you need to improve training and quality assurance processes to keep these issues from arising with future customers. Although it’s tough to hear this kind of criticism, discovering – and fixing – a real business issue because of an online complaint could actually help your business improve and save you money over time.

How to Respond: Think of how you can fix the situation for the reviewer, either by offering a refund, amending your service, or working with them to find a satisfactory solution. Sometimes, you might find that you just can’t satisfy everyone – either the reviewer won’t want to work with you to find a solution, or his or her expectations are simply unrealistic. However, it’s helpful to talk to unhappy customers to find out how you can improve and know that you’ve tried to fix a negative situation.

How to Write a Good Online Response

Now that we’ve identified some common review themes and responses, there are some important things to keep in mind when you respond to any review online. It’s important to let the reviewer know you’ve read and understand their feedback about their experience, that you care about your customers, and that you’d like to offer a solution.

For example, you could respond with something like this for any of the reviews we talked about above: “Hi, Reviewer, thanks for sharing your feedback. Our goal is to provide all our customers with a positive experience. Please contact NAME at NUMBER so we figure out a way to rectify the situation. Thank you.”

This is a simple and sincere response. You want to take the resolution process offline, so provide a name and contact number where the reviewer can reach you. You can get more information about their visit and work to find a way to resolve their issues in a way that turns their experience around. Once you’ve resolved the issue at the heart of the complaint, your customer might even update their review to let others know you’ve worked with them to reach a resolution.

If you’d like more information about managing your online reputation and responding to negative reviews, check out a few of our resources:


Stephanie Heitman

Stephanie is the Sr. Marketing Manager for USA TODAY NETWORK | LOCALiQ. She has experience in digital marketing, social media management, and content creation for SMBs. Stephanie specializes in helping businesses improve their online reputation and appreciate the impact social media and digital marketing can have on their brand. When she isn't researching the latest online marketing tips and trends, she enjoys watching reality TV with her husband and her dogs.

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