Bad Reviews: How to Deal with Negative Customer Feedback

Great customer reviews are the golden ticket for helping website visitors convert into customers. 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations However not all reviews are going to be breathless and glowing. So you got a shitty review on your site, now what?

First off don’t panic. It’s been shown that having some negative reviews actually INCREASES your perceived trustworthiness. After all, it’s highly unlikely that everyone is going to have a positive experience — it rains even at Disneyland!

However not all customer reviews are the same. Here’s a quick rundown of the types you likely encounter, and what you should do about them.

1. Abusive

Whether it’s someone intentionally trolling, using bad language or indecipherable ranting, these are the reviews you can feel safe removing. Ask, would this help someone’s understanding of the product? Ideally product reviews you show on your site should be furthering the conversation. Not every review has to be an in-depth, thoughtful critique but it should be helpful and intelligible.


2. Customer Service Related

A large percentage of complaints are not about your product at all but a customer service issue (the product came too late, it was broken, pink instead of green, etc). These can be proactively handled by the customer service team. While it’s tempting to handle these discretely via email, if you reply openly to the review, other potential customers can see that you’re dedicated to providing a positive experience and eases their concerns. Even better, encourage the reviewer to write a follow-up on how the situation was rectified!


3. Legitimate Product Complaints

These can actually be very helpful both for customers and your team. They break down in a number of ways:

a. Basic Understanding: If the negative review is based on a basic misunderstanding of the product, consider ways to clarify both with text and images. There’s a lot of information that in-store customers can see but need explained when purchasing online. This can often be clarified with close-ups on details of the product, showing the product in use or detailed product descriptions. If you're seeing the same complaint repeatedly, it's worth at least updating your product description. 

b. Product Misuse: Sometimes your customers are disappointed by your product because they are using it incorrectly. This is a great opportunity to provide more education. This can be done in a number of ways from replies to their reviews, better written instructions in the packaging, an email drip course or explainer videos on your website. 

c. Bad customer/product match-up: Sometimes it’s just that the wrong people are buying your product. Your product might work great for most acne-prone teens and 20 year olds but not be effective for every skintype.

You can’t prevent every poor-fit purchase, but you can look at your targeting and add product recommendation quizzes or comparison charts to help guide customers to make better choices.

d. Product Problems — Of course sometimes, there’s a problem with the actual product. I’m sure we’ve all clicked on the unbelievably good deal only to see EVERYONE has had issues with the product. The shoes don't fit, the lipstick is chalky, the product breaks immediately. Sometimes even with testing and the best intentions, products go awry. Admitting to these problems and moving to solve them quickly will increase trust and ultimately strengthen your brand.

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Reviews are important, and customers might even give more weight to negative than positive ones. However remember they aren’t an end point but the beginning of a conversation. Use them to improve your site and create a positive customer experience...even if they don't fall in love with your product.