Adrian Taropa

Adrian Taropa

I started my own webdesign company at 18 years before enrolling into University. I have been working on perfecting my web and business skills ever since.

Dealing with bad reviews

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If you are operating a business in the service industry or in the B2B sector, you undoubtedly heard that positive reviews are crucial for your business. But what happens when, despite your best effort to satisfy everyone, you get a negative review? How do you react? How do you make it go away?

5/5 Stars: The Holy Grail of Ratings

Reviews are feedback that comes from your clients, business partners or other stakeholders who interact or have interacted with you.

Reviews, in the online world, have only recently started to play a very heavy role in business. Customers look at reviews and check feedback before engaging with a business. The fact is that bad reviews mean fewer customers while good reviews bring all the business to the yard.
This is why small business owners have been driven to look for the coveted 5/5 star rating.

While 5/5 star rating is undoubtedly a very solid objective, it actually ends up getting you less traction than a 4.99 or even a 4-star rating. Allow me to break it down for a moment. First off, there are two things consumers factor in when reviewing an online business rating:

  1. What’s the rating score;
  2. How many reviews are there;
  3. How does the business deal with unhappy customers;

The more you grow in popularity, the higher the chances are that the business will encounter a few people who didn’t have a good experience or that they may not like something. A restaurant, for example, can not satisfy all tastebuds just like a Software company cannot meet all expectations. These reviews, however, end up part of the business deal and you will need to get accustomed to them.

Word of caution; if you encounter a business with a 5/5 star rating and, say, over 300 reviews, there should be some red flags that aflare. You should be asking yourself if 300 customers were really 100% blown away by their product/service? And, what happened to the one or two who may not have been as impressed?

In the section below we will look at some of those bad reviews and how to deal with them.

Dealing with Bad Reviews

If you are wondering about how to deal with fake or malicious reviews, subscribe below to our newsletter and stay tuned for our upcoming article.[/vc_message][vc_column_text]As a business owner, negative reviews will make you skip several heartbeats. Realistically no one wants to see a rating below 4. The key is to not be scared and work with what you get.

A 2-star review or higher is usually used when a client sees room for improvement while a 1-star review may be due to a particularly bad experience. Both can seem devastating but negative reviews are in fact opportunities to showcase your customer service and show to other potential customers that you are professional, rational, and can acknowledge mistakes and that you strive to provide a good customer experience.

Dealing with 2+ Star Reviews


This tells you that the customer wanted to like your brand/business/service but there were some issues. These reviews will often come with longer explanations. The client spent a lot of time providing you with the feedback, and the missing stars represent your opportunity to improve. In these situations, the best thing to do is to take their review at face value and thank them for their honest opinion. If applicable, offer them to resolve the issue via private channels.

Dealing with 1 Star Reviews

The golden rule is that you start by apologizing for their bad experience. Yes, even if you dealt with that customer yourself and you think they are 100% wrong. This is the first step to turn down the heat a little. A calm explanation should follow after the apology along with an invitation to contact you in order to resolve the issue.

If the issue cannot be resolved to a customer’s satisfaction, then work with them to find an alternative solution. Dealing with negative reviews in such a manner shows the client that you are willing to go above and beyond to resolve a customer’s complaint.

No matter what, never ask the customer to retract their review or amend it. However, if they ever do after a resolution, make sure to thank them.

Is a negative review slander?

The short answer is: No. Reviews are governed by the 5th amendment and represent a person’s right to share their experience and opinion about a particular business. If a review is truthful or is an opinion based on personal experience there are no legal grounds for having it removed.

Reviews are also governed by the websites that host them. Meaning that it is up to them to decide whether or not a review violates their terms of use before they remove it.

If the review contains inappropriate language, or materials (IE Pornography, Personal Information like Social Insurance Numbers or Passport Numbers) then a request can be made to the appropriate social network to have that information redacted or removed.

This will be covered in more detail in our upcoming post which will discuss fake and malicious reviews.

Getting Reviews for your Business

In the service sector, it is quite easy to get reviews as someone that uses an app or a check-in service will later be asked for feedback by that platform. In the B2B world, it may be a little more difficult. Often times only frustrated customers will go through the trouble of leaving a review.

So what do you do? Do you ask your customers for a positive review? The answer is God No! Flat out asking for a 5-star review is very intrusive and off-putting. Many people, will give you a bad rating just for that.

One method we found particularly effective is to ask for feedback instead. Instead of asking them “Can you provide me with a 5-star rating?” ask; “Can you please provide me with some feedback?” or “Please take 5 minutes to tell us how we did”.

Serve them with a feedback form, asking them to rate you on your website first. If they indicated a positive experience, ask them to share it on your social media platforms. If they had a negative experience, allow them to write about it and try to resolve it with them first before it goes online. For an idea of how that would work, have a look at our Social Reviews system.

Making Negative Reviews Work for You

As mentioned above, bad reviews are opportunities. Here’s the best thing you could do:

  1. Read the review and make sure you understand the concern or complaint;
  2. Discuss it with the involved staff members;
  3. Take some time to cool off;
  4. Compose a well thought off reply that contains an offer to resolve the issue. Be polite and nice and do not take personally.

Many visitors will look for bad reviews of business just so they can find out how customer support deals with complaints and issues. If you view bad reviews and reactions as an opportunity to improve then it will become apparent through your replies.

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