How to turn a bad review into a better review

This is a guest post from Andy Sernovitz — CEO of and and New York Times bestselling author of “Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking.”

We all get bad reviews. No matter how hard you try, you’re going to screw up a job every so often.

So what do you do?

  1. Respond to the review. Don’t just let the bad review sit there. Most review sites now let you comment on the review.
  2. Stay cool. Just explain what happened and tell your story.
  3. Apologize. Even if you’re not wrong. Take the high road and say you’re sorry.
  4. Don’t fight. Do not attack the customer, blame them, or get into a he-said, she-said. You will look like a jerk.
  5. Write for the future, not the reviewer. It’s not important that you convince the bad reviewer to change their mind. That would be nice, but it’s not the point — especially if you have an unreasonable, angry, or crazy reviewer. Your goal is to write for every future reader of the post. You want them to understand that you tried, you’re sorry, and you’re a reasonable company that means well.

Here’s a great example of how to do it just right:



About Andy Sernovitz

Andy Sernovitz builds organizations that help people help each other. His company, GasPedal, builds peer-to-peer communities for people leading meaningful change at the world’s biggest companies, including and Health. He wrote the best-selling book Word of Mouth Marketing, which teaches you how to earn the respect and recommendation of your customers.

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  1. Alexandria

    This sounds like a good idea, but I have my concerns.

    As a successful business owner, we all have had experiences with a crazy customer posting something negative or an out right lie on the review site

    I have learned that by posted a reply on these sites, you actually keep the negative review posted higher in the search results for your business name.

    The best defense is post your good reviews, share positive press releases of the good your business does and not feed the beast of false review sites by commenting and/or visiting the page.

  2. Andy Sernovitz

    Hey Alexandria, thanks for reading and thanks for your comment.

    Yes, sometimes, there’s definitely some nuance to responding to negative reviews — and usually recommend ignoring the trolls who are just looking to pick a fight.

    But, responding to customers who have genuine concerns or frustrations can go a long way to turning around the negative word of mouth.

    For more on this topic, you might check out this free paper we put together outlining 10 different ways to handle negative word of mouth:

    And, there are lots of examples and anecdotes out there from other smart folks demonstrating how engaging your critics can help you convert them into advocates.

    Thanks Alexandria!

    Andy Sernovitz

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