Good reviews are good for your business

Purchases made online don’t always live up to expectation. An alluring photograph and a persuasive piece of copy can leave us feeling deceived and disappointed if the reality falls short.

This is where online reviews come in. They give the buyer social proof and confidence in what they’re about to buy.

According to Luisa Zhou’s Online Review Statistics 2023:

⭐️ 97% of consumers read reviews for local businesses

⭐️ 95% of consumers read online reviews before buying a product

⭐️ 88% of consumers who read an online review say it influenced their buying decision

⭐️ 74% of consumers say that reviews increase trust in a company

⭐️ 49% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendation.

But bad reviews happen

As the saying goes, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. And bad reviews could have negative consequences for your business if you don’t handle them correctly.

⭐️ 94% of consumers say reviews have made them avoid a business. [Source]

Bad reviews aren’t always a bad thing

Sometimes a negative review can highlight a problem you weren’t aware of. And this will give you the chance to make a positive improvement that will benefit all your customers.

And sometimes having 100% positive reviews can make people question their authenticity.

⭐️ 68% of consumers don’t trust a 5-star rating unless there are lots of reviews. [Source]

And sometimes bad reviews aren’t your fault

Some people will always find things to complain about — and those things may not always be your fault. Like the holidaymakers who give their hotel a poor review if bad weather spoils their holiday.

But people will spend 4x as long reading your bad reviews, so they’re pretty good at reading between the lines.

Why you should respond to bad reviews

There are a number of reasons why responding to a bad review is a good idea.

Image by Dmitry Rodionov from Pixabay

Most consumers expect a response

⭐️ 53% of consumers expect a reply to a negative review within a week [Source]

⭐️ One-third of consumers expect this response in 3 days or fewer. [Source]

Your response will send a positive message

Responding to a bad review gives you the chance to:

  • Apologise, if necessary
  • Satisfy the reviewer that their issue has been looked into
  • Show you care what your customers think
  • Reassure potential customers who are reading the negative review
  • Show how you’re addressing the issue moving forward.

Your response can make a big difference

The right response to a bad review has been proven to turn things around.

⭐️ 56% of customers said that a company’s response to a review changed their perspective [Source]

⭐️ 55% of consumers said if a business owner responds to their review, they would feel positive about a business [Source]

⭐️ 45% of consumers report that they are more likely to visit a business if it responds to bad reviews. [Source]

How to respond to a bad review

Respond promptly

If you have a bad review, you should aim to respond to it quickly. The longer it sits there with no response, the more people will get to read it without hearing your side of the story.

If it’s an issue that will take some time to investigate, you can post an interim message to say you’re looking into what happened and will respond properly as soon as you’ve had a chance to do that.

Look at the review objectively

You might instinctively feel that your bad review is wrong or unjustified — but you need to override those instincts and look at it with an open mind.

Investigate what your customer is alleging, what went wrong for them and how it happened.

Be honest with yourself about your part and what you could/should have done differently.

Could their bad experience have been prevented? And how can you make sure it doesn’t happen to someone else?

Never respond while youre angry

When a customer has written something you know is unfair or untrue, it’s natural to feel angry about it — but this won’t help your cause.

It’s best to give a measured and rational response, so if you’re feeling angry, you should avoid the temptation to reply straight away.

Sleep on it or take some time to collect your thoughts. And when you do respond, write something that will reassure your prospective customers.

Address each point the reviewer has raised

This is important because it shows you’ve listened to what your customer has had to say and makes them feel heard.

Acknowledge the criticism

This doesn’t have to be an acceptance of the criticism, but it should show you understand the point the reviewer has made. 

For example:

Were sorry to hear you had problems with …

“Thank you for bringing … to our attention.

“We understand you had an issue with …

Show that you have investigated the issue

Showing you’ve taken the time to get to the bottom of the issue will show you’re conscientious and care about resolving it.

For example:

We carried out an investigation to find out why…

“We have looked into how this happened.

Explain what happened and why

Most customers accept that mistakes sometimes happen. They also appreciate honesty and transparency. Giving an explanation will help to resolve things in your reviewer’s and prospects’ minds.

For example:

“The problem was caused by …

The issue was as a result of…

This was an oversight on our part.

This was due to circumstances beyond our control.”

Show the actions you’re taking as a result

If the reviewer’s criticism was fair and justified, they’ll appreciate knowing that it made a difference and you’ve acted on it.

So talk about any steps you’ve taken or changes you’ve made to prevent this from happening again.

For example:

We’ve spoken with the member of staff involved and…

We’ve discussed the issue with our supplier and…”

“We’ve taken your suggestion on board and…

“From now on, we’ll…

We’ve changed our policy to…

We’ve put new procedures in place to…

Apologise, if necessary, and make amends

If you were at fault, now is the time to apologise. And making amends, even if you weren’t at fault, can often help to smooth things over.

For example:

Please accept our sincere apologies for …

We’ve decided to compensate you by…

“As a gesture of goodwill, we have …”

“We hope this incident will not deter you from using our services again.

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About the author

I’m Jenny Lucas a freelance copywriter and content writer based in Leicester, UK.

If you need to write a pragmatic and diplomatic response to a complaint or bad review you’ve received, maybe I can help.

Use my contact form to get in touch and tell me what you need.

Photo by Matt Glover Photography