Why Having Some Bad Reviews Is… Good?

What? Bad reviews are good? Ok, let me explain. Actually, let Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List explain.

bad reviews are good

In a recent NPR podcast she talks about the topic of bad online reviews and what they mean to a business. With over 10 million reviews on Angie’s List, she understands how they impact businesses very well. Besides being an excellent story about how Angie’s List got started, there are some interesting take-aways for all of us about online reviews.

How Bad Reviews Can Help

At 26:00 in, she says (I’m paraphrasing)

when I look at reviews, it’s important to read the context of the reviews. No matter how great you are as a company, you are going to get some complaints. I honestly believe you learn more when you see a company that has a few complaints, than you do when you see a company that has all glowing reviews. Every company makes mistakes, and you want to see how they are going to handle them. How you do that addresses the fears of the consumer.

Responding to Bad Reviews

So how should you respond to negative online reviews? She goes on to say:

On the flip side, I spend a lot of time talking to service companies and encouraging them not to respond to reviews right away. No one likes negative feedback. I always suggest they get a cup of coffee, come back, think about it before they write something, because what they say can be more powerful than 10 reviews might say!

Here’s the Podcast


So the take-aways for me are:

  1. It’s OK if you don’t get all 5 star reviews. In fact, research shows that consumers trust ratings of less than 5 stars more than all 5 star ratings.
  2. When you do get a bad review, step back and take a breath before responding. Your response is a huge opportunity to show how you take care of your customers.

As I write this blog post, I think about how hard it is to take negative reviews. I’ve received them, and it hurts. But I always challenge myself to learn something from each review. Maybe it’s not about my product or service, but the expectations I’m setting. Or maybe it’s just a customer that I can never please. But it’s helped me a lot to step back and grab that cup of coffee and relax before responding.

What do you think about bad reviews. How do you handle them? Do you turn them into an opportunity?

2 Replies to “Why Having Some Bad Reviews Is… Good?”

  1. Justin Lewis says:

    Hey Don, I’d like your feedback on responding to a review that was posted to Ripoff Report that was intentionally posted by someone that is simply trying to hurt my reputation (not an actual client)? My fear is that if I respond to the review via Ripoff Report, they will get a notification and suddenly start to blackmail/threaten me with boosting the negative review? To make a long story short, someone got upset at my not wanting to partner with them and made false accusations on ripoff report. Any feedback would be great.

  2. Sonal Patil says:

    You shared the fact, Don. Actually, the customers believe the ratings less than 5 because it might be spam one. Also, the bad review shows us where we lack in which we should take as a positive experience to learn what customers expect and improve our services.

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