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Turning Bad into Good: How To Handle Bad Reviews


Do you remember the last time you went to a restaurant without a recommendation? If you’re like me, it’s probably been a while. The fact is, people want the best if they’re going to be spending their money, and the most reliable way to know how good something is if you haven’t tried it before is to listen to other peoples’ opinions.

Thankfully, with so many businesses moving to have an online presence, it’s easier than ever to see what consumers think. According to stats for 2019, a staggering 82% of customers read online reviews to decide if they should make a purchase or not. Of those customers, about 76% said that they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from friends or family.

While reviews are obviously useful to consumers, they can be equally as helpful to business owners. As long as your product is worth talking about, it has reviews. However, comments about your business or products can be either positive or negative.  So now the question is, if customers are somehow not happy with your product, how do you handle the negative press that bad reviews bring? In this article, we share the ultimate cheat sheet you need to turn bad reviews into something useful.

Why Even Bother With Reviews?

Every business owner starts their company hoping that customers will love their products and have only good things to say. However, that’s not always the case, particularly when businesses are just starting out and perfecting their products and processes. Knowing this, you might be tempted to forego utilizing product reviews completely—why risk it? Isn’t it easier to disable all comments?

While it might seem like the easier option, disabling comments will usually work against you and is one of the biggest mistakes that business owners can make. Including a section for customer reviews directly in your website’s design is essential, as it shows transparency and inspires visitors to trust you.

You might think that independent review aggregators are enough to appease curious consumers. However, you’d be wrong. According to a 2015 study, visitors who interact with customer reviews on a product page convert at a 58% higher rate than those who don’t. Not only that, but the average order value increases by 3%, and the revenue per visit increases by 62%. More conversion and higher revenue certainly seems worth the risk of a few negative reviews, which you can easily manage.

In addition to improving conversions, reviews across all web pages—whether they’re on your website, on Google, or even on Facebook, can boost your SEO. The more people are talking about you online, the higher you will rank on search engines. However, search engine algorithms do care about whether reviews are positive or negative, with positive reviews putting your brand in a much better position. That’s why it’s important to know how to turn a negative review into a positive—which we teach you below.

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How Negative Reviews Can Help

We’ve already established that consumers rely on online reviews and use them to make purchasing decisions, but why should you keep your negative reviews up? There are many reasons, but one of the most obvious is for authenticity.

As reviews become more important, many businesses have opted for fake reviews—paying people to write glowing reviews for their products or services. Consumers are aware of this, and can be distrustful if there are too many positive reviews. Additionally, bad reviews help show customers what the worst case scenario will be like if something goes wrong. Negative reviews are the perfect counterbalance to help consumers get a true snapshot of what to expect when engaging your services or buying your products. Now, we’re not trying to advocate for you business to encourage bad reviews, but make sure you are allowing your customers a platform to express their honest opinions.

We know that when you’re passionate about what you do, a bad review can be devastating. However, instead of seeing a negative review as a failure, use it as an opportunity to improve relationships with your customers and increase the quality of your services going forward. If you’re feeling bad about a few bad reviews, look for the following benefits.

They Open Up Customer Dialogue

We know that you work hard to provide customers with a great experience, but sometimes things don’t work out the way they should.  This is why a bad review can provide the perfect opportunity for dialogue with your customers. By reaching out to your customer and addressing the problem, you are, in a way, redeeming yourself. According to a Lee Resource Inc study, if you resolve the problem quickly, there is a 70% chance that you will retain your complaining customers. With a little nudge, you just might turn a potential negative into a positive, earning the goodwill of the once dissatisfied customer.

They Clue You Into Areas You Need to Improve

One of the most important aspects of negative reviews is that they help you understand your customers and their relationship with your product or service. From their likes and dislikes to elements of your products that they loathe, love or think need improvement. Typically, you’d have to carry out some research about your audience to get a hold of this information. But with reviews, you get to sit back and watch that information come directly to you, allowing you to find out exactly what the general public has to say about your products.

They Show Your Human Side

Negative reviews provide you with the perfect stage for you to show your human side. You get to showcase your customer service team and your ability to solve problems both professionally and promptly. The fact is, if you can prove that you are able to quickly solve problems that come up before, during, and after purchase, customers will trust you more. Tons of customers have abandoned ship due to poor customer service, and that could be the difference between someone choosing you or your competitor.

Dealing with Bad Reviews

A bad review can impact many people, not only the customer who had the bad experience. Because reviews are public, your response can affect not only your one-on-one interaction with the unhappy customer, but a prospective customer’s decision to engage your business. Studies show that the most recent reviews (within the past three months) are the ones that matter the most. If a customer sees that you have bad reviews from a few months or a few years ago, it likely won’t turn them off a purchase, but your response to the situation could go a long way toward convincing them to make a purchase. If you’ve gotten a bad review, here’s what you should do:

Examine the Review Objectively

Seeing your hard work and efforts being criticized instead of appreciated can bring about a lot of hard feelings. The first thing you need to do if you want to take advantage of the opportunity a negative review presents is put aside these feelings and examine the truths in the review. If you avoid this and decide to ignore the review, you may end up repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Soon, your page will be overrun with bad reviews all complaining about the same thing—and how will that make you look?

Respond Promptly

It’s not enough to examine the review; you also need to make a prompt response. In our fast-paced world, consumers expect a swift response, and if you’re not monitoring your online reviews, you might miss it. Customers do not take that lightly.

This principle doesn’t apply solely to reviews on your website or other review pages. Many consumers turn to social media to voice their complaints, so make sure you are monitoring all spaces for mentions of your company. Set up a Google Alert for your business and product name so that you catch all mentions of your company as soon as they arise.

Personalize Your Response

Let the person know that you have acknowledged the negative review and that you’re doing something to fix the problem. Do not simply give a boilerplate response that doesn’t address their specific issue, and definitely don’t lash out at the customer, even if you don’t agree with what they are saying. It will not only be detrimental to your efforts to showcase your exceptional customer service, but it might also fuel the fire more and make the situation even worse.

Leave the Comment Where the Online Review Was Left

Negative reviews are embarrassing, there’s no doubt about it. You might be tempted to cover up everything, do a full sweep, and erase the very existence of it. Resist this urge. Openly responding will show that you have nothing to hide. It also shows that you are proactive and eager to correct your mistakes and make amends.

Encourage More Reviews

We have already established that as long as you’ve put your business out there, you are bound to get negative reviews. Instead of beating yourself up, try to take it in stride and encourage more comments. This way, you’ll get an idea of precisely what your customers want, and you can then improve your products and services to match their needs.

Take Action

It’s one thing to respond to a review, and it’s another to actually take action. In short, it’s not enough to merely empathize with the customer and craft an apology; you have to take the necessary action to ensure that the mistake isn’t repeated. This is not to say that an apology is not important. While the customer might appreciate your apology, remedying the situation or offering some form of compensation is much more reassuring, and it will make them trust you even more.

Follow Up With Dissatisfied Customers

Following the steps we’ve mentioned so far will take you a long way, but to have the best outcome, you need to check in with the dissatisfied customer to ensure that they are happy. You want the customer to know that you are not only willing to take corrective action when a mistake has been made, but that you also care enough to check if there are any further issues. Ultimately, you need to make sure that they are now happy with your product, or at the very least are satisfied with how the issue was handled. You might not get the customer back, but you will redeem yourself in the eyes of a prospective buyer and maybe even change your unhappy customer’s perspective.


The importance of negative reviews cannot be underestimated. After all, it’s the first thing that most customers will look into before they make a purchase decision. As a business owner, it is vital to ensure that you handle bad reviews well enough to turn them to your favor. A big part of that rests on a quick, respectful response. With the tips outlined in this blog post, you will have a better shot at turning bad into good, and getting more conversions as a result.

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Website Comments

  1. Avatar Randy

    Excellent blog and inciteful perspective. I am still deciding whether to use your website service. Your comments go along way in helping me with my decision. Thanks! ?

  2. Avatar Escale Solutions

    This is really nice article on negative reviews. I think, this is the strong challenge for several businesses to convert their bad reviews to good one. Thanks for sharing this post!

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