Even the best businesses are bound to get a bad review at some point, and yet, for new business owners, this can be a difficult reality to face. No business leader wants to hear that a customer had a bad experience with a product or service, especially after all the time and effort put into getting it just right.
This situation can lead entrepreneurs to become frustrated or dejected, and they may end up responding in a way that they come to regret later on. If you want to resolve the situation, retain your customer and boost your company’s reputation, there are certain things you should never do in response to a bad review. Below, the members of Young Entrepreneur Council list several of these “don’ts” and explain what you should be doing instead.
What Not to Do If You Get a Bad Review
- Ignore it.
- Let it affect your passion.
- Get defensive.
- Use fake bots to counter it.
- Avoid apologizing.
- Remove it.
- Be dishonest.
- Take it personally.
- Lose your professionalism.
- Stew on it.
- Deny it.
- Justify what happened.
Don’t Ignore It
Getting a critical review is part of any business and, even if our team tried our best, we just can’t please everyone. One thing you shouldn't do is ignore bad reviews. Even if the person seems to be trolling, always acknowledge the review, reach out and ask what you can do. Turn that person’s unpleasant experience into a positive one and you might just create a loyal customer! —Kyle Goguen, Pawstruck
Don’t Let It Affect Your Passion
Don’t let negative reviews affect your passion. Be the entrepreneur you were born to be, and see the bad reviews as feedback. Negative feedback can be either constructive or unnecessary, and it is up to you to decide what kind it is. Everyone receives hate, no matter what they do or whom they try to appease. It is easy for people to hate—what’s hard is overcoming it. —Kyle Michaud, Experience Expositions
Don’t Get Defensive
Some companies are overly protective of their brands and make every effort to defend themselves against criticism. Instead, stay open-minded about the issue and why the customer felt so motivated to leave the bad review. Then, develop a game plan for determining the root cause and resolving it! —Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep Mattress
Don’t Use Fake Bots to Counter It
Don’t use fake bots to counter bad reviews. Despite how popular this charade is, most people notice when a review is honest and when it is a lie. It is not a good strategy to cover an honest review with a poor lie. Be grateful and take it as advice to grow your business. Analyze the bad experience and try to improve it in the future. A bad review is a way to change and prevent a bad impact. —Kevin Ryan Tao, NeuEve
Don’t Avoid Apologizing
Do not ignore it. People love to find the one thing you did wrong, so if you were wrong, own it and apologize. I’ve found that people actually love it when you make a mistake, take accountability for it and are humble in the process. It shows you're human and have integrity. —Givelle Lamano, Lamano Law Office
Don’t Remove It
When you get a legitimate bad review, please do not attempt to remove it. Let’s be honest—people are skeptical of companies that have perfect 5-star ratings. One or two bad reviews won’t damage your reputation forever. When these situations do arise, make sure you step in and correct the issue. This may result in the person updating their review, but not everyone will follow this pattern. —Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
Don’t Be Dishonest
No one is without flaws. Neither is a single company. Be honest in your response, in addition to being speedy and insightful. Transparency is quite beneficial. The majority of negative reviewers—and consumers in general—prefer an open and honest response to a real mistake, with the expectation that their complaints will be handled fairly and sympathetically. —Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure
Don’t Take It Personally
Bad reviews can be tough to bounce back from, but one thing you have to avoid is becoming emotional and taking it personally. Step away from the computer for a while, get to a calm mental state and then respond in a professional manner. Try putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and offer to make things right. See it as valuable feedback to help you improve your business. —Benjamin Rojas, All in One SEO
Don’t Lose Your Professionalism
Some reviews can be nasty, but no matter how bad they are, never lose your professionalism. Always maintain a professional attitude with your users. Think of the displeasure and inconvenience the customer had to go through. Make sure to offer an apology and do your best to rectify the situation. It’s the best opportunity to turn the displeasures into a happy experience and retain your customer. —Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite
Don’t Stew on It
When you get a bad review—and trust me, we all have—don’t stew on it. If possible, contact the source of the review directly to hear firsthand their dissatisfaction with your product or service. Many times, individuals vent online because they don’t know how else to have their voices and concerns heard. Being able to directly connect with your customers is the most valuable tool you have! —Ashley Sharp, Dwell With Dignity
Don’t Deny It
Don’t cover it up or deny it. Instead, own up to the mistake (even if it’s not entirely your fault) and pledge to right the wrong. Communicate that the complainant should contact your business directly so you can discuss the matter further and work toward a resolution. Don’t let the customer walk away feeling slighted. Rather, make the customer feel heard. —Tyler Gallagher, Regal Assets
Don’t Justify What Happened
You need to own your mistakes. And if you didn’t make a mistake, you still need to acknowledge the fact that a customer had a bad experience with your company or product. Trying to justify why that might’ve happened is not the way to rebuild trust. We live in an age of corporate transparency and accountability. The best strategy is to listen, learn, and apologize. —Anik Decoste, MTTR