How to Address Bad / Negative Reviews of Your Product Online

Entrepreneurial individuals have experienced an increase in tools which help them deliver solutions to our world’s problems to the appropriate consumers in need. 

A person with a good idea, the right knowledge, and an adequate work ethic can set up shop in historic record time. There are tools to get your site online today, your products to ship tomorrow, and your legal paperwork ready to protect yesterday’s transactions. 

Your relations with your customers will require continuous focus and effort. Entrepreneurs quickly realize the importance of proper communication channels which work to aid the solutions they sell to the world. Without a properly planned communications approach surrounding the good and the bad outcomes of your business operations, your results will not match their optimal potential. 

This article is about publicly addressing and strategizing communications around poorly reviewed products of yours. 

Don’t Hide, Ignore, or Dispute Negative Reviews

As someone who puts a lot of effort into creating products and propelling them to market, you’ll have a deeper connection to them than any potential customer. The people looking from the outside in will naturally be personally detached from the products you make. They’ll be likelier to judge your products objectively as they’ll not have any personal investment in their success. 

As much as you’re inclined to believe that people have it out for you by leaving negative reviews of your product, you should refrain from making that assumption without legitimate evidence in support of it. The owners of poorly reviewed products are likely to assume that people are sending personal attacks by way of negative product reviews. 

Leaving a piece of your personal identity in every product is difficult to not do after pouring every ounce of effort you can muster into it. It’s the reason why negative reviews sting, and the more they sting, the more personal attachment you likely have to your product. 

Ensure that you do not give into your desire to hide, ignore, or dispute any negative reviews about your products. Anything that displays your personal attachment, and the sensitivity you have around that attachment, will be a turnoff to current and potential customers. It will show that you care more about how you’re perceived as the creator of a product rather than how positive the customer experience with your product is. 

The 80/20 Rule: Prioritize, Then Address the Issues

Your acknowledgement of the negative reviews will need to come sooner or later. An acknowledgement can be made up of a variety of things. Leaving your comments on individual reviews is one form, so is releasing a piece of communication / update letter surrounding your product. 

Whatever your acknowledgement of the negative reviews looks like, the stance from which it should be made is one of solving issues and bringing further benefit to current and potential customers of the product at hand. Your attempts at saving your business’ or product’s reputation will be sniffed out quickly. 

Make your acknowledgements detailed, and ensure that you cover the most popular / pressing complaints first. The goal of the acknowledgement phase is to communicate the product seller’s understanding of the issues plaguing the product that they’re selling. 

In your communication pieces to customer complaints, whether public or private, ensure that you have a good understanding of which 20% of the total issues at hand will satisfy 80% of the incoming customer complaints. 

Knowing what to focus on in your public communication pieces entails understanding the themes behind the negative reviews of your products.

Ask yourself the following questions when planning a communication piece surrounding negative reviews: 
  1. Which customer complaints are most repeated? 
  2. Which customer complaints are most memorable / have the capacity to be spread? 
  3. Which customer complaints aren’t disputed by fans of your products / work? 
  4. Which customer complaints are universal in their effect, rather than based on customers’ personal tastes and preferences? 

The goal of increasing the value that customers enjoy from your product demands you to focus on wide ranging, objective, and measurable issues. Understand the difference between a negative opinion based on personal tastes, and a legitimate negative review which shines a light on repeatable customer experiences with your product. 

Ensure that you do not give any hints of being reactive to opinionated reviews of your product, as rational customers will view this as an attempt to protect your image rather than improve customer experience even if the initial review is misinformed or biased. 

The things you defend and address say a lot about what your focus is directed toward regarding the matter at hand. Address things which are legitimate, universal, and repeatable issues about your product. 

Your addressal and agreement should communicate your understanding of the issues at hand, and offer some kind of immediate attempt at easing the now dented customer experience. Focus on making your customers feel right, and ensure they know that they’re helping build a better product.  

Target Highly Visible Negative Reviews: Practicing Perception Judo

As you acknowledge and legitimize the bulk of the issues related to your product, seek out your most vocal critics. Your natural inclination around disgruntled customers who are seemingly causing the most damage to your, or your business’, reputation will be to either deny, disprove, or ignore. 

However, your most vocal critics have the largest capacity to help you positively turn the tide of public perception around. Since you’d have studied and publicly acknowledged the need to improve, now would be the time to present concrete plans going forward. 

As standard for much of the modern “product review” landscape, replies to customer reviews from the product owners are typically distinguished and highly visible. The high likelihood for your response to popular negative reviews to be seen by prospective customers provides a perfect platform for you to respond in a manner that reaches many and reaffirms confidence in your product. 

You’d not only respond to potent criticism, you’d be responding to the most popular and accessible pieces of criticism available on any one review site / service. These instances would be essential to perform well, and you should be disciplined in how you approach such highly visible reviews. 

Again, refrain from denying, arguing, or correcting popular negative reviews on the various apps or websites you’ll have access to.

The general response strategy should be as follows: 
  1. Apologize and play into the disgruntled reviewer’s victim status. 
  2. Offer to take immediate steps to correct their issue and ensure you’ll be able to offer the same corrections for any customer that asks. 
  3. Lay out concrete and detailed plans going forward on how you’ll be preventing such happenings in the future. 

Be strategic in terms of which reviews you publicly respond to and which customer complains you take offline. Seek out the most viral, visible, and popular negative reviews online first. After you send appropriate responses to those, you’ll be able to work down the prioritized list of negative reviews. 


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Disclaimer of Opinion: This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims. Please critically analyze all claims made and independently decide on its validity.