Good Company, Bad Review? – What to Look For

Reading bad reviews can make for great entertainment – unless they’re about us (!).  Often they are well written and paint the unfortunate company as a group of stupid, unethical and bumbling scam artists.  A truly exceptional bad review can read like a prosecuting attorney’s closing statements, urging you to convict.  Should you?

What does that bad review really mean?  Well, for starters it means that a customer is angry, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find that even a bad review can showcase a good company.  Even if it’s not the fault of the company or the people who work there (there are two sides to every story after all), bad reviews are out there on the internet for all future customers to read.  Does a bad review= a bad company?

Here’s what to look for:

  • Did they respond?

Every review needs a response, and acknowledgement from the company.  It shows they are aware of their customers and online presence.  This is a company that cares about its reputation.  A company that cares about their reputation is probably out there providing good quality work for a fair price.

  • Did they ask the writer to contact them for resolution?

Arguing your case online is never going to resolve anything.  Instead of focusing on the customer and the root of their concerns, it lays out opposing sides for the public to read and judge.  While this can be fun for the public, it can give the impression of two children arguing.  Asking the customer to bring their concerns to management for a person-to-person discussion is a customer-based approach.  This makes it clear that this is a company that cares about customer resolution.

  • Did they own the problem?

Let’s face it, human error is a part of life, and sometimes we’ve made mistakes that we needed to own.  The Case of the Missing Screw is a classic example of this.  This was a particularly difficult case because although we did make a mistake, some of the customer’s accusations were untrue.  Our response had to focus on apologizing for the mistake we made and leaving out the defensiveness.  Owning the problem tells you that this company knows exactly who the customer is.

The same is true of a company who responds to criticism by saying that they have never heard of the customer before.  This is a company that keeps good records, detailed notes and has a strong organizational system with which to access them. Infrastructure, organization, and records are all good attributes.

  • Were they professional?

Did they argue their point of view online with CAPS LOCK ON? It’s tempting to highlight points with caps lock – especially when the writer feels unfairly accused and loyal to the position of the company.  But really that’s equivalent to yelling so unfortunately, it’s ill-advised.  If the company responds to the bad reviews in a professional way, then you can be confident that there is professionalism to be found there.


Even the best companies will get bad reviews; it’s what they do afterwards that makes the difference.