Bad reviews are good for you
Seriously! Your company needs bad reviews to get the full benefits of having any reviews. Now, I’m not saying you should aim only to get bad reviews or to target a 1-star review average; but a good mix of good reviews and bad reviews is your best bet. Aim for an average score between 4.2 and 4.5.
Receiving a couple of bad reviews now and then is a normal part of running a business and I’m here to tell you why you should be happy to receive them.
Bad reviews are a channel of feedback
Whether you like it or not, negative feedback about your business is usually more critical than positive feedback. You should know what is great about your business; it’s often the negative aspects, the flaws, of which you are not aware.
If your company never receives a bad review, you are missing out on a significant source of valuable feedback from your customers. Any negative feedback you receive from one unhappy customer can often be something that many other customers are experiencing, but they are not motivated enough to write a negative review. Attempts to fix the underlying problem will often improve the experience for many of your customers.
Unfortunately, not all bad reviews have feedback per se, the content of these reviews is not useful. Learning how to distinguish a review with valuable information from one full of vitriol will help your team with digesting feedback and turning it into features and bugfixes. It’s important to distinguish whether a review is useful and how to get good feedback from bad reviews.
Bad reviews add credibility to your reputation
Everyone seems to be targeting a perfect 5 out of 5 on review sites. This target is crazy for a few reasons. One single review can make this impossible. Even if that review is a 4 out of 5 and you have thousands of 5-star reviews! Businesses with only 5-star reviews are often not considered credible. The ideal average review rating for a business is not even a 5 out of 5! You are better off aiming for a score between 4.2 and 4.5.
Finally, the content of the review is way more important than the actual rating. Users no longer trust average review ratings, they are now much more likely to read the content of your reviews. Having bad reviews mixed in with the good ones can add much credibility to your business.
Bad reviews filter out bad fit customers
Some consumers just won’t fit with your product. You know who your target market is; you also know that some people will still try and use the product even if they aren’t your target consumers. Their unfortunate experience can help prevent other bad fit consumers from making the same mistakes, saving you time on onboarding, customer support, and dealing with any refunds.
Slightly bad is not actually bad
Bad reviews will provide potential customers with an idea of the worst case scenario of working with your company. If a negative review about your company focuses on a single bad experience with onboarding or a support ticket, it is significantly better for your company when compared to something like “they lost all of our data and cost us millions of dollars.” Process changes can fix bad reviews about onboarding or support experiences, so your potential customers will likely not be discouraged by one or two of them.
Bad reviews are a channel of communication
Any customer that writes a review has provided you an opportunity to speak to them again. A negative review is often one of the last times an unhappy customer will talk with your company; it’s the last time you may get to rescue them as a customer or if that is impossible, to mitigate the damage of the negative review by responding politely and representing your company in a good light.
Most review platforms allow comments on reviews; it’s important to have a framework for responding to negative reviews.
The most important thing to remember when you receive a bad review (or any review!), is that your response time matters. You should respond to your reviews promptly - a customer wrote this review and writing this review is often your last chance as saving them as a customer, or if that’s not possible, taking a moment to apologize for the experience and humanize your company to future reviewers. The two keys to responding quickly to reviews are to ensure that you get notified of reviews quickly and to have a framework so that writing and responding to reviews is more straightforward.