You put your heart and soul into making your business the best it can be. You’re really proud of the products and services you offer and the team you’ve assembled to make magic happen for your customers.
But at some point, you’ll encounter someone who’s unhappy with their experience with your business, and they’ll post a dreaded bad review online.
How it feels to get a bad review.
Your gut instinct might be to panic. But a bad review isn’t the end of the world—and it can even be a good thing (trust us!). In fact, if you’re smart about it, you can turn a bad review into a good opportunity.
- What is a bad review?
- Is it normal to get bad reviews?
- What can you learn from bad reviews?
- Should you reply to bad reviews?
Bad reviews are reviews typically between one to three stars or reviews with negative sentiment about your business. While it never feels good to get a bad review about your business, the truth is that it’s completely normal for even the best businesses to get bad reviews.
Here are some reasons people leave bad reviews:
- 73% want to save others from having the same negative experience.
- Nearly 50% want the company to be more upfront about fees or policies.
- 48% want a refund.
- Nearly 40% want the company to change its policy.
- Nearly 40% want an apology.
You might be surprised to know that bad reviews aren’t actually all bad for your business. Yes, bad reviews aren’t all good for business, but they’re also completely normal and something that can positively impact your business in a couple of ways.
One report found that 82% of people specifically looked for bad reviews—but not because they want to focus on the negative. Consumers see the absence of bad reviews as suspicious and don’t fully trust every positive review they read. A bad review will give them a better look at the full picture of what to expect from your product or service.
Let’s use this 3-star review as an example. This restaurant has an average 4.4-star rating, which is quite high. This reviewer mentions that they love most of the food, but their main complaint is that the margarita is too small. If I’m visiting this restaurant for the first time, I know not to expect a massive margarita with my meal but that most of the food should be good.
Again, this is because consumers are seeking out a healthy mix of both positive and negative reviews as they move through the buyer’s journey.
Any type of feedback you can gather from your customers is valuable for your business, and bad reviews are no exception. While you never want to receive a bad review, it can highlight an area for your business to improve.
For example, if you notice that you’re receiving multiple bad reviews about slow service or a product that’s not meeting expectations, you can make adjustments that will only address common customer pain points.
Many customers will have a bad experience and never let you know about it. While this seems preferable to a bad review, it actually isn’t because it means you’re losing a customer without even knowing about it.
When a customer takes the time to leave a bad review, it gives you an opportunity to amend the situation and win them back—either by addressing their concern, offering some kind of resolution, or providing a refund or discount that will encourage them to come back.
We know that 93% of people read reviews before making a purchasing decision, and 97% of those people read review responses. Plus, people spend nearly 50% more money with businesses that respond to their reviews.
Responding to bad reviews allows you to not only resolve an issue with an unhappy customer but also gives you a way to show prospective customers that you’re listening, that you care, and that you’re invested in making your customers happy.
Read the bad review objectively
It’s easy to get defensive when you read a bad review about your business—especially if you feel that review was unwarranted. But it’s important to take all bad reviews with a grain of salt and try to understand the root of the complaint.
To respond or not to respond?
We suggest responding to all reviews—both good and bad. Again, your review response gives you a way to fix a situation with your current customer and potentially win over new customers.
The only situation you may want to hold off on responding is if you believe you’ve received a review in error or that violates the review site’s policy and you want to try to flag it for removal.
For example, see how to remove a review on Google.
Craft your response to the bad review
- Don’t get defensive. It might be hard, but it’s important to remain calm in your response so you don’t escalate the situation.
- Apologize for their experience. Nearly 40% of people say they just want an apology from a business after leaving a bad review.
- Try to take the resolution offline. To avoid going back and forth with a reviewer online, offer a phone number, email address, or ask the reviewer to provide their contact information so you can continue the conversation in a less public way.
- Offer a resolution. To let the reviewer and those reading the review know how you plan to fix the situation, offer some kind of resolution like a discount, a refund, or a promise to remedy the complaint.
- Follow up. Make sure to follow up with the reviewer quickly so you can avoid making them more upset!
As we mentioned, bad reviews provide an opportunity for improvement for your business. Take a look at your recent bad reviews to see what could be enhanced or adjusted to continue providing the best experience for your customers.
After responding to bad reviews, you might also let the reviewer know about any processes you updated or changes you made so both they and review readers can see that you take feedback seriously and are dedicated to making improvements for your customers.
Get good reviews
Good reviews are still important for your business’s success, so make sure to put effort into getting good reviews. Create a process for asking for reviews from your happy customers and ensure you’re delivering a great customer experience at all times to increase your chances for positive reviews.
Download our guide to learn even more about managing your online reputation—including how to deal with negative reviews.