Reviews: The good, but mostly the bad and the ugly. How do you deal with bad customer reviews?

how to deal with bad customer reviews

How you deal with bad customer reviews can make a big difference


Customer reviews – love them or loathe them, there’s no getting away from them. We live in an age where bad customer reviews can have a huge impact on a business.

So… how do you deal with a bad review? What do you do when someone unfairly leaves you a stinker?

We spoke to PR Pro John Warburton of Manchester PR agency jwcpr, for his top industry tips on turning a harmful online liability, into a genuine reputational asset.

Take it away John…

John Warburton of PR firm jwc


Good reviews = more bookings, more profit margin, more clients. Great news, right? Yet the flipside of the coin isn’t so pretty and as a creative, your work is subjective. For all the skill in the world, even a photographer on the level of Mario Testino will encounter clients who are dissatisfied with some element of the service. Fair? Absolutely not. Yet when these clients leave bad customer reviews of your work, their words can be just damaging as if they were speaking the gospel truth.

So, what’s a long-suffering photographer, who sheds blood, sweat and tears for his craft, to do, when faced with a bad review? We’re glad you asked – here’s how to turn it around with a simple three step process. Put together

 If you can appeal the review, do.

Every review service takes a tough stance on fake or otherwise questionable reviews (whether they’re any good at picking up on them and addressing them may be another matter). Let’s take a look at three of the biggest sources of reviews…

 Over on Facebook you can flag fake reviews as well as reviews that contravene their Facebook Community standards.

To report a review:

  1. Go to the review and click  in the top right
  2. Click Report post
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions

Read the full guide right here: How do I report a review to be removed from a Page?

 Now for Google…

Google should review and remove any reviews that breach their content policies, here’s a summary list of the kind of content they take exception to:

  • Advertising
  • Phone numbers, email addresses or URLs
  • Off-topic reviews
  • Keep it clean
  • Conflict of interest
  • Illegal content
  • Copyrighted content
  • Impersonation
  • Personal and confidential information
  • Hate speech

 If the review is on Google, you can report it by following this process…

  1. Sign in to Google My Business.
  2. If you have two or more listings, switch to card view and click Manage location for the location you’d like to manage.
  3. Click Reviews from the menu.
  4. Find the review you’d like to flag, click the three dot menu , then click Flag as inappropriate.

Read the full guide here: Flagging inappropriate reviews

 Finally, there’s TrustPilot.

On their website you can find a big long list of reasons why they’ll review and remove reviews (find this, and in-depth guidance on the next steps, here: For which reasons can companies report reviews?)

 For reviews that are here to stay – Take it on the chin and reply like the pro you are

Appeal refused? Fear not – bad customer reviews absolutely can, and should, be an opportunity to demonstrate super shiny customer service. Here’s how to leave a reply that’ll ensure those reading still get in touch…

 A is for Angry

Don’t, whatever you do, write a review response in anger. If you need some time to cool down after reading a soul-destroying (and completely uncalled for) review, then take 24 hours. Once calm and collected, move on to B.

 B is for beginning with an acknowledgement (and saying thanks, even if it is through gritted teeth)

They’ve slated every shot, ripped into your composition, totally gone to town on your angles, but here’s the thing – you have to start with an acknowledgement and a thank you to every, single, bad review. This defuses the situation, and shows you in a professional light. This could be as simple as a:

“Thanks for taking the time to review my service, and I’m really sorry that you weren’t overjoyed with your shoot – it is always my aim to create 5-star-worthy images, and I’m disappointed that you won’t be joining the vast of my clients in this respect”. Then move onto C…

 C is for a contented client, after all

Offer a solution there and then – don’t ask to speak with them in person or request an email, your more than fair olive branch should be seen by one and all.

It’s also important to present why you may disagree with the review (if you know that there’s no chance of the reviewer removing their thoughts, that is). Keep it professional, brief and try to include concrete facts that demonstrate the review as unfair. You might also want someone else to read your reply for their thoughts.

Finally, keep it short, keep it sweet and read it twice over before hitting that reply button.

 Go on the offensive and ask your over-the-moon clients to leave their thoughts online

Remember that September wedding? The one that created beautiful photos that your clients loved? Or that tough to shoot two-year-old, who you made appear angelic (despite him most likely hiding a ‘666’ under that crop of hair?) You know when your clients are super happy with your shoots – so ask them to leave their 5 star thoughts online.

 You can make this easy by handing them a business card with a QR code to take them straight to your review page, with just a click of a smartphone camera. You could also create a little motivation for leaving a review by offering a discount on any future services of yours (and bag yourself another booking in the process – win-win-win!).

 So that’s it – bad reviews, turned into a chance to shine, done and dusted. Remember – stay calm, plaster on a smile and remain professional, with the tips above, you’ve got it covered!