Guides & Explainers

8 tips on dealing with bad reviews and unsatisfied clients online

March 21, 2023
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No matter how good your business is, you might occasionally get a bad review or an unsatisfied customer. To avoid any long-term damage to your business, it is best to address the bad interaction and try to smooth it out. Keep reading to learn 8 on how to turn a bad review upside down!

Getting bad reviews

Once your business grows past your superfans, it is inevitable – you will get a bad review once in a while. Bad reviews differ in scale and seriousness. Even though you should always address all the bad (and good!) reviews you get, you want to put more emphasis on large-scale bad reviews and keep it fast and clean with less demanding ones.

Serious bad reviews

If you get a bad review that lies in this category, attend to it immediately! The faster you resolve this issue, the better your chances of coming out of this experience with a positive or at least neutral result.

Examples of serious bad reviews:

●      A customer is very upset, angry, and vocal.

●      The issue is truly 100% your fault (for ex., a defective product).

●      It involves sensitive topics like race, religion, human rights, etc.

●      Accusation of false advertising.

Medium bad reviews

These are bad reviews. That's why there are some areas in your business you need to fix. If a customer is complaining about not receiving what they thought they would – think about your product descriptions and how you could improve them.

If there is a problem with shipping – think about how you can make it better. If the customer is not satisfied with the price/quality ratio, find ways how to make your product feel more luxurious.

When dealing with reviews in this category, you might need to give your customer some compensation or find different ways how to smooth the situation.

Examples of medium bad reviews:

●      A product is not what they wanted – there are complaints about some detail.

●      Problems with shipping.

●      Complaints about customer service.

●      Complaints about price/quality or price/product ratio.

Minor bad reviews

Minor bad reviews include unreasonable or inflated complaints that are not loud and the customer is just grumpy, not belligerent. A minor bad review can also be about an issue that you can very fast and easily get fixed.

●      The product is different than the customer imagined (happens with online shopping!).

●      The review is an online review from a person who hasn’t bought anything from your shop (happens with Google Reviews).

●      The issue is easily fixable, for example, exchanging a product for something else or replying to a question.

Dealing with bad reviews

Once you get a hang of dealing with bad reviews, you will stop fearing them and start cracking them with ease. If you do honest and good business, bad reviews often come from a very emotional place – customers after all are just humans. When you understand that, you can start defusing the unkind words.

1.   Don’t take it personally

Sometimes it might be hard, but don’t take a bad review personally. Even if the review speaks about you specifically (for example, salesperson X did that and that) try to distance yourself and remember that the client doesn’t know you, they experience the world through their own lens and they might have a distorted memory of that event if they were feeling emotional.

One bad review is also not an attack on your business as a whole even if a client is eager to generalize this one issue. Just keep that in mind and focus on the issue client is having, rather than defending yourself or your business.

2.   Answer as quickly as you can but don’t rush

It is important to address a bad review without long hesitation, however, you might want to take a few moments after reading a review before you start writing a reply. It is especially wise if you are feeling emotional or the bad review touched you personally. You need to step back and have a breather. If it is possible you might even ask someone else to answer this particular review – someone with a cooler mind and a third-party view in this situation.

Let’s remember that bad reviews are often very emotional and you don’t want to get overly passionate in your reply as well. You want to keep things kind, professional, and calm.

3.   Make the conversation private

When you have received a bad review on a public platform, for example, Facebook, or Google, etc. try to make the conversation about the issue private. That way you can talk more personally and spare a public dispute that might bring you bad PR. Even if you answer very kindly in public messages, it still leaves a not-so-good after-taste when a company is working on issues publicly. Only do it, if the client is not willing to talk privately.


If you cannot message the person personally firsthand, you can reply to the comment with: “We are so sorry you had a bad experience with our company/product. We would like to make amends and work this issue out. Can you please contact us? (Leave an e-mail or phone number).”. If they have left their order number, you can track them using that and message them personally.

4.   Show empathy

Start your reply to a bad review with sympathy. Show respect for the client's emotions and their opinion and experience. Never say that what they have experienced didn’t happen or you cannot understand how it could have happened. Shown empathy might look like you saying: “We are so sorry you experienced that.” or “We are sad to hear that you had this experience.”

5.   Listen and make a client feel heard

When dealing with a written review, the person has already spoken their mind so you don’t need to listen verbally but rather emotionally. So, the first thing you do is to make them feel heard. It can sound like you shortly repeating in your own words what the client has said. For example, if there is an issue with the shipping you can say: “I understand that the estimate package arrival time was February 2nd, but the package has not yet arrived.” And then you continue with a solution or suggestion.

6.   Take responsibility

Never shuffle a bad experience with your product or company to your client. Be open and take responsibility for anything that has gone wrong regarding your product and supply chain. For example, don’t blame your client for not reading the product description correctly, but express your regret for the misunderstanding. Even though you want to take responsibility, you also don’t want to make yourself look guilty or incompetent. So avoid saying things like: “Yes, our product descriptions are confusing or yes, we haven’t paid attention to our webpage for a while.”

7.   Offer solutions

This is the art of a bad review reply that a customer is looking for. What are you willing to do to make their experience better? It, of course, depends on the review. Is there even something you can do? If you are dealing with a serious or medium bad review, there are definitely some things you can offer to your client.

Practical solutions

If the problem is practical, it is quite easy to fix. For example, if there is a problem with shipping, you can get your team on fixing the issue and getting the item to your client. If a customer has received a defective item, you can offer them a refund or send them another item. Depending on the issue and the scale of the problem, you can also offer a coupon code or a similar reimbursement.

Emotional solutions

If a customer has a problem with attitude, marketing, or something else that not necessarily involves your product, the solution part gets a bit more tricky. Some clients just want a heartfelt apology and they want to be heard. Some clients want extra attention and special treatment. It is also important to take responsibility and promise to work on things (for example, if the complaint is about customer service).

When there is no solution you can offer

And then there are situations when you cannot offer any real solution because you have done nothing wrong on your part. However, depending on the situation, always try to find a way how to make your customer feel special and valued. You can offer an exception, a small gift, a coupon code, or anything else that might be appropriate to the situation. But make sure you don’t give out special treatment and monetary reimbursements all the time and publicly. Otherwise, it might give the wrong impression to your clients, that all they need to do is write a bad review to get, for example, a coupon code.

8.   Ask to change the negative review

Last but not least, if the issue is resolved and you are back on a positive note with your client, ask them politely maybe they would consider removing the negative review. Another good result is if the client is willing to at least update the bad review explaining how the company reached out and resolved the issue. Even though the first option is slightly better, both are good results for sorting out a bad review.

In conclusion

Don’t be afraid o f bad reviews, they are a sign that your business is growing. Pay attention to them, reply kindly and politely, offer a solution, and make your client feel special and taken care of. Even though you want to deal with bad reviews, you also don’t want to concentrate too much on them. View them as constructive criticism, make them into lessons, and use them to create a better product or service for your satisfied customers!

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On the 22 July, 2022 Printseekers signed an agreement with Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA), agreement No. SKV-L-2022/320. The project “Printseekers International Competitiveness Promotion” is co-financed by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).