Reviews are criticial to the success of a business. In the pre-internet days, word of mouth and TV ads were the major carriers of reviews. With the Internet now being accessed by more people than at any other time in the world, reviews have become important than ever before. But what is special about online reviews is the fact the reciprocal communication can be seen by others also.

Unsatisfied but genuine customers can leave negative and harsh comments and the best way at times to counter them is by being sincere in accepting their perspective. Humble apology and a promise to fix the issue can go a long way in getting a chance to serve those unhappy customers again.

But when it comes to malicious and false complaints, sometimes funny replies are more befitting instead of getting into a heated argument that leads to nowhere.

What are the Differences between Negative Review and Constructive Criticism

Negative ReviewConstructive Criticism
The experience of the reviewer has been been extremely negative and therefore, he doesn’t see any reason to revisit the experience. He aims to tell the others about the same with the intent that other people will boycott the service.The experience of the reviewer may not be very satisfactory but he is not upset. In his mind, he is willing to give another visit if the service undergoes some changes.
Usually happens when the service owner completely denies the inadequacy of their product and instead tries to sugarcoat the experience.A person is likely to give a constructive feedback online if the owner admits about the lack of quality in his service (product) during their offline conversation and gives sincerity in improving the service.
In a negative review, the majority of spotlight is on the things that went wrong. The consumer is likely to ignore any good aspect of the service that appealed him.In a constructive criticsm, the spotlight is more on the things that can be corrected instead of the things that were unappealing to the consumer.
Reaction of a person reading a constructive feedback (On the left) vs reading a negative scathing fake review (On the right)

What to keep in mind while injecting humor in your responses to a scathing fake review?

Do’s Dont’s
The tone of your reply should be professional which is aligned with your brand voice. A little bit of humor can be okay if its not the usual part of your brand response.Never Get personal. The key is to talking about the fake situation that the consumer is pointing to and addressing it with facts and little sarcasm without getting personal and name calling.
Use short and sweet reply wherever necessary. However, do not shy away in disclosing the entire event in detail in order to provide transparency if the review is extremely opposite to the service you delivered.Avoid Complicated humor that will make a hard time for people to understand the response later on.
Mentioning the positives in the humor response is a subtle way of addressing the misconceptions without sounding offensive.The sarcasm and wit should not be overdone which could get interpreted as mocking. The intent is to descalate the situaiton and not to intensify it.
Keep in mind of the public perception. Take a good second look at your crafted response before posting it and ensure that it leaves a positive impression about your service on the readers.Keep in mind of the privacy laws. It can be easy to slip out personal information about the reviewer in order to prove him wrong. Letting out private information could land you in legal trouble.

Humor Factual Response to Negative Restaurant review

While negative reviews can be hurtful, especially if they are fake, humorous replies can be appropriate in tackling them.

Imagine having a restaurant named “The Gourmet Garden” and greeting every group in your restaurant like a family.

Your waiters and waitress makes sure that the Gordon family are comfortable and your staff follows proper etiquettes while taking orders.

The food is freshly cooked, arrives on time and the family is gorging on food like they have never experienced such taste before.

The chef and the caterers are ensuring that every order is delivered before expected time, and the manager at all these times is vigilant that everything goes smoothly. You greet the family after their dining experience and they leave.

From the next day onwards, you are expecting a positive feedback on Yelp and Google but to your surprise, you see a harsh review instead.

You are pondering as to why someone has put such a scathing review despite no signs of such encounter in the restaurant. You then find out that the reviewer is the same family who savoured the food just a few days ago.

So lets give a detailed conversation between the fake reviewer and the restaurant owner in such scenario.

The Review: “One star for The Gourmet Garden. Dreadful experience! The food tasted like it was pre-packaged, the service was slower than a snail, and the ambiance reminded me of a noisy market. Even the kids were bored out of their minds. Avoid at all costs!”

The Response from The Owner, Mr. Gordon:

“Dear SmithFamilyJoy,

I’m both surprised and puzzled by your review, as it seems to have been intended for a parallel universe version of The Gourmet Garden. Let me take you on a little journey back through what I recall as a magical evening:

  1. The Warm Welcome: Our team greeted you with our signature ‘Gourmet Grins’—it’s possible we might have been too cheery, transporting you momentarily to a world of excessive joy.
  2. The Feast: Your family ordered our chef’s specials, which were prepared with ingredients so fresh, they might have whispered their farm-to-table life stories as they were served. Perhaps, in the alternate universe, our chef’s whispers were mistaken for market noises?
  3. The Kid’s Kingdom: Our dedicated staff, doubling as royal jesters, entertained your little ones so splendidly that their laughter could have been mistaken for boredom in a dimension where joy sounds different.
  4. The Departure: Upon asking about your experience, your heartfelt ‘amazing’ was so powerful, it must have created a rift in the space-time continuum, leading to the alternate review.

While we strive for perfection, it appears we’ve inadvertently provided you with a multidimensional experience! As a token of our journey through space and time, we’d like to offer you a complimentary meal. This time, we promise to keep all dimensions aligned for a universally acclaimed dining experience.

Looking forward to welcoming the SmithFamilyJoy back to our earthly realm of The Gourmet Garden, where the only thing faster than our service is the speed at which our fresh ingredients leap onto your plates, and the only noise louder than our ambiance is the sound of contented sighs from satisfied guests.

Warmest regards from all dimensions, Mr. Gordon”

Example of Funny Sarcastic Conversational Response to Fake Review of Hotel Stay

Imagine being a owner of the hotel named “Seaview Retreat”. You and your staff gives their heart out to ensure a pleasant, joyous and comfortable experience for the families.

The family enjoys a great time, expects extra courtesy of the staff that they willingly offer so that the guests have an amazing experience.

After their departure, you expect a positive reply at the least but one day you find out a scathing and hurtful review out of nowhere. You scratch your head to realize why someone would post such review as your staff always give their 200% to ensure a wonderful stay of its customer.

Considering the above scenario, lets create a situation where a hotel owner gives a befitting funny reply to scathing reviewer.

GloomyGary Review: “One star. What a disaster of a vacation at Seaview Retreat. The rooms felt like prison cells, the food was barely edible, and the staff acted as if we were invisible. A complete letdown for what was supposed to be a relaxing family holiday.”

Mr. Harrison’s Initial Reply: “Dear GloomyGary, we’re sincerely disheartened to hear about your negative experience at Seaview Retreat. Our goal is always to provide a welcoming and enjoyable stay for all our guests. Could you provide us with your room number or the dates of your stay so we can investigate these issues further? We take your feedback seriously and wish to understand how we might have fallen short.”

GloomyGary: “I don’t see why I should give you specifics. Just know that our vacation was ruined, and I plan to tell everyone about it.”

Mr. Harrison Turns the Tables: “Thank you for your reply, GloomyGary. We did a bit of sleuthing, based on your unique username, and found that during the dates matching your stay, our ‘prison cell’ rooms somehow transformed into luxurious suites with ocean views that other guests described as ‘breathtaking.’

As for the ‘barely edible’ food, our chef is a bit bewildered, considering he received a standing ovation (your family leading the applause) for his special seafood paella at the buffet.

And about being ‘invisible,’ our staff recalls a rather spirited karaoke night where your family’s rendition of ‘Under the Sea’ made you the center of attention, far from unseen.

It appears your review may have taken a vacation from reality. Could it be that the real disappointment was having to leave our lovely retreat?

We understand post-vacation blues can be tough, especially after such a ‘disastrous’ family singalong.

In the spirit of good fun and to ensure your next review reflects an ‘imprisonment’ of joy rather than dismay, we’d like to offer you a complimentary ‘Escape from Alcatraz’ themed dinner during your next stay.

It’s our most ‘inedible’ experience yet, guaranteed to make you feel visible, vocal, and very much part of the Seaview family. Looking forward to your encore!”