How to handle a bad review

You can’t please all the people all the time and in the age of online review services disgruntled customers won’t be shy in telling you that they’re unhappy. While it’s tempting to respond to every bad review, particularly if you’re a new ecommerce business and don’t get very many, it’s a mistake to take reviews personally – unless they get personal, of course!


Is the review malicious, slanderous or abusive?

If a review crosses the line into personal abuse or slander, ask for it to be taken down immediately. While you can expect slightly stronger language online than you would put up with face-to-face, there’s no need to live with reviews that are genuinely malicious.

Is it factually correct?

A review that’s wildly inaccurate – whether positive or negative – can be extremely damaging to your business. Many review companies will be wiling to remove a review that’s really out of touch, so contact the platform directly. As an example, if you’re an ecommerce store in Hampshire, a product review that mentioned a bricks-and-mortar high street location you haven’t got could cause a lot of angry customers. Likewise, a hotel review praising the swimming pool, river views and tennis courts would damage a small, city-centre B&B.

Is there a genuine complaint that hasn’t been resolved?

The most toxic reviews are those which indicate that customer service was poor after a legitimate complaint was made. A review that describes being sold a defective product or service which was not made good can be really damaging to both ecommerce and bricks-and-mortar businesses. If you have the option to reply, you should always reply to these reviews with an immediate and genuine offer of amelioration. Your hotel stay was disappointing? Come again, and we’ll give you a free night, plus here’s a 10% refund as a gesture of good faith. The product arrived broken? Call me and I’ll sort the refund out myself.

Is it that bad, really?

Don’t worry about or react to mild negative reviews. Every business has customers who are disappointed, and while most people won’t bother to come back to tell you that their sandwich was only ‘average’, they can easily post a review to an ecommerce page.

Is it a positive review in disguise?

Saving customers from disappointment is a sure way to improve their experience of your brand. While a negative review saying something like ‘swimming pool very small, only 25m, and not open after 9pm’ might strike you as a touch unreasonable, other customers will quickly pick out the good news: you have a swimming pool, it’s a good size and open until 9pm. If that’s the worst someone can say, they’ll think, this must be a good bet.

Are most of your reviews positive?

Customers expect to see both positive and negative reviews as it’s clear that you can’t please all the people all the time. A few negative reviews are to be expected, and may even reassure people that your product and ecommerce business are genuine.

If you are based in Portsmouth, Hampshire or surrounding areas and would like to discuss how to manage digital marketing for your small-to-medium business, view our portfolio or make contact with our web design and digital marketing team. We really like to talk.

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