No one likes a bad review.

Business is personal, whether we like it or not. And it’s especially personal when it’s your business.

When someone leaves a bad review of your business online, it feels like a punch to the gut.

While that initial sucker punch feeling will probably never go away entirely, there are some great things that can come from a bad online review.

You just have to look at the positive.

1. Bad reviews are free customer feedback.

When you’re running a business, you’ve got all kinds of expenses. Unless you’re in the Forbes 500, you may not have the budget to spend on user experience testing or feedback.

Fortunately, online reviews are completely free user feedback. All you have to do is claim your business profile on Yelp, Google My Business, and a few niche sites (if applicable to your industry). Now you have free feedback from customers who care enough about your business to let you know how you can improve it. Listen thoughtfully.

2. Bad reviews are better than no reviews.

You know the saying, “If it sounds too good to be true…” If a business has only perfect 5-star ratings, customers tend to question how “real” they all are (and how many were actually written by your mom).

For a long time, people have thought that negative online reviews give a sense of legitimacy to a business’s overall reviews. A study by recently proved that this is true. The senior living reviews site found that communities with even 1-star ratings had higher move-in rates than those without. If you have negative reviews, people trust the rest of your positive reviews much more.

Negative reviews better than no reviews

3. Bad reviews highlight your customer service.

Too many business owners focus on trying to remove negative reviews by complaining to the review site. This rarely, if ever, works. Your time is much better spent responding and showing off your customer service skills.

By responding to your online reviews – both positive and negative – you show customers you are engaged and interested in their opinion, even after they’ve purchased from you. Respond to negative reviews gracefully and sincerely, and potential customers reviewing your profile will be impressed.

4. Bad reviews aren’t set in stone.

Speaking of customer service, a bad review is your chance to turn things around with a customer.

Many online review sites allows customers to edit and update their original review. If you respond, invite the customer back for a do-over, and then make good the second time around, chances are they’ll update their review. These scenarios really wow potential customers reviewing your profile, as they can see you’ll go above and beyond to make them happy.

Updated review on Yelp
Source: Yelp

5. Bad reviews are motivational.

Ever heard of negativity bias? It’s the theory that people remember negative events more strongly than positive ones.

That scathing review that made your blood boil? That’s what’s going to motivate you to work that much harder to “show them” by expanding your services and growing your business. Just make sure you respond once you’ve cooled off!


Bad reviews are great for business, if you let them be. Take them for what they are – honest customer feedback that you can use to improve your business and impress future customers. Respond with care, thank them for their feedback, and get motivated.