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4 drama-free ways to make a bad review work for you.

Updated: Apr 19, 2023

I was getting ready for bed when I saw my first “bad review”, but it snatched the sleep out of my eyes! It was a “controlled” review sent to the email listed on the product, but it hurt regardless.

A bad review is always a tough pill to swallow. Maybe it’s because we put so much time and energy into creating something. Or because we’re determined to give our clients/followers the best. Either way, bad reviews are pretty common.

And if we’re being honest, our parents had it way worse. They had to face off with irate customers while other customers watched and even changed their minds. An unhappy reviewer isn't looking to spare your feelings, so it’s up to you to respond as professionally as possible.

That means:

  • No scathing clapbacks

  • No rants

  • No reaction videos to rile up friends and family.

In this post, I’ve outlined 4 drama-free ways to handle bad reviews productively.

#1 - It's not about you.

I try to keep this at the forefront of my thoughts. It isn’t personal (except if it’s a hater masquerading as a “customer”, then it is) It’s about your product/service and that it doesn’t meet their expectations. It’s a good chance to improve your product before it gets out of hand and reveals a school of thought/needs you probably never considered before.

#2 - Prepare a response template.

The reviewer may be upset, enraged, or earnestly giving feedback to direct your improvements however, there’s no telling what else you’ll have going on when it happens.

This is precisely why you need an apology that only requires minimal tweaking. An apology template is the best thing to keep you from responding in a curt, defensive manner that will end up fanning the flames or get you canceled. Your response should include these 5 things:

Their name if it’s available (Pronouns can be tricky if unsure)

An apology

Appreciation for their patronage and for taking the time to give feedback.

What’s your policy for unsatisfied customers? A full refund, partial refund, Returns/Final sale, or a discount on their next purchase? Whatever it is, politely + factually mention it.

An official email for them to communicate with you.

"Customer service response templates can help your team to send consistent answers to your customers – no matter who is replying to the email." – Catherine Heath

#3 - Look for patterns.

Is this the first review of its kind? If it isn’t, then you want to pay very close attention. Are you or someone you know dropping the ball? Is your packing company being careless? Maybe you need to work on shipping times?

I ordered a suit set from a popular online store for my husband’s birthday in 2021 and was very disappointed. The blazer arrived a month after said birthday, and the pants about 10 days later. The blazer also came in a completely different print from the pants.

Summary: I paid for a set, didn’t get it, and didn’t even get the chance to see them before the event.

Their responses to my inquiries were outrageous. It’s safe to say that I will not be spending my hard-earned money with them again.

So don’t chuck it up to customer paranoia. You want to catch any faux pas before it costs you your coins.

#4 - Rally the "happy" reviews.

Finally, balance the scales by getting satisfied customers to share their reviews on a form and social media. Big companies like Shein have perfected initiatives like bonus points for Liked Reviews & Influencer highlights. Remember to ask for clients’ permission to share their reviews before posting them on your feed.

By responding positively, you can turn a challenging situation and an unhappy customer around.

Have you ever received a bad review? How did you handle it?

Please share in the comments.

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