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Your product is getting exposure online. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of people following your business on social media, and commenting about your service on review platforms.

Most of the feedback is positive. And you’re elated.

But then someone leaves a negative remark about your brand. There’s another one shortly after, complaining about the same problem. A third one shows up, also pointing out a fault. Soon, you have a handful of bad reviews from unhappy customers.

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What should you do about them?

This article shows you how to deal with unflattering reviews. Whether you’re getting tons of angry comments in all-caps or grappling with a few troubling takes on your products, you should find the ideas here useful.

First, let’s consider why those bad reviews could actually be good for your business.

Why Bad Reviews Can Be a Good Thing   

•A few one or two-star ratings out of hundreds of five-star ratings will suggest that you haven’t just made the reviews up yourself. If most of the reviews are good, they will make up for the few bad ones anyway.

•They offer your business a chance to demonstrate its humaneness and responsiveness.

•You could learn from the errors pointed out in the reviews, fix problems, and make your products and services even better.

Customer’s loyalty to your brand will strengthen if you adequately resolve their problems.

How to Deal With Bad Reviews

Now here’s how to handle the negative reviews when they come in.

1. Don’t Get Defensive

You know you’ve built a great product or a fantastic service. It has cost you a lot of hours and involved plenty of planning, research, and resources. Then someone casually trashes it in a few words. Why shouldn’t you tell that person off?

You shouldn’t; at least not in the vast majority of cases. It could be that they have noted a real fault with your product that’s causing them real discomfort. Why not consider what they’re saying first?

Remember, you are in business to serve your customers. They aren’t always right, but it’s wise to give them the benefit of the doubt. The last thing you want is to start a war with them.

2. Be Empathetic

Try to put yourself in their shoes. If you were unable to access some important service despite trying several times, would you be displeased with the service provider? Think about how you would want them to treat your complaint.

Now, take that approach when you are responding to a negative review dropped on social media or a review platform. You may begin by apologizing to the poster for the experience they have had with your service. That’s a first step towards dousing tensions and redirecting the customers’ attention to solving their problem.

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Your tone should be empathetic. If you come across as cold, unconcerned, or hostile, the complainant may become even more vexed.       

3. Respond Promptly

The speed of your response may be the difference between your keeping or losing a customer.

People often want their problems attended to quickly. If they don’t get a response within their own ‘waiting window’, they’ll assume that you don’t care about their issue. They may cease to be your customers and start buying from your competitors instead.

On the other hand, prompt responses suggest that you value your customers’ opinions and that you are eager to help them. This prepares the ground for an amicable resolution of the qualms they’re having about your services.         

When you do receive the details of the complaint, try to fix the issues raised as quickly as is possible.  

4. Get to the Bottom of the Issue

Sometimes you will receive unclear complaints or concerns that you can’t properly handle unless there’s more information. Don’t hesitate to ask your customer for clarification where you need them.

You may also want to ask some follow up questions if you’re dealing with a problem that could have multiple causes (for instance). Remember to do this courteously.

5. Get the Issue Resolved Privately

It’s not desirable to engage in a back-and-forth with unhappy customers on a public page. You could ask them to share their complaints with you in your DM or via email.

This is a good step to take if the issue can’t be sorted out with a single response.

6. Put Forward Your Side of the Story

While it’s a bad idea to appear defensive in your responses, you should set the record straight if the complainant is clearly in the wrong.

Their problem may have arisen because they’ve misunderstood your terms and conditions, or haven’t used your product correctly (to give just a couple of examples). In situations like this, you should let them know where their error was.

Again, you’ll want to do this with courtesy. Focus more on explaining the policy or function that they may have missed, instead of directly blaming them for their mistake.


Bad reviews can be painful reads. But they also offer you the chance to improve your product and processes, refine your brand, and strengthen customer loyalty. You can achieve these things by following the tips we’ve laid out here.

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Did you find this article useful? Contact us: editor at connectnigeria dot com

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This article was first published on 30th May 2020


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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