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5 Times Customer Reviews Backfired (And What to Do About Them)

Read on for more.

Gillian Wilson
Gillian Wilson
4 min read

We all have mixed feelings when it comes to reviews. We want them, we want nothing to do with them -- we love them, but we also hate them. And it’s because they can be a real pain to acquire and manage. 

Reviews can start to feel like a full-time job -- on top of your existing full-time job -- so some businesses opt-out and say no thank you. But that can’t be your answer. Although it might take work, the rewards are worth it.

Almost two-thirds of consumers think that online reviews are a very important part of the decision-making process when choosing a local business. In other words, you have a lot riding on your reviews that you can't just throw away.

When you get a handful of glowing reviews praising your business, the feeling is euphoric. You feel on top of the world and you get free positive publicity as well as a myriad of other benefits -- or so we thought. 

It’s not smooth sailing once you get a few positive reviews. There will likely be bumps along the way that require work, which makes reviews a bittersweet process -- but still a necessary one.  

For a variety of reasons, we have seen customer reviews backfire and in turn, hurt the business -- even if they were positive reviews. 

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Luckily, there are steps you can take to effectively avoid these situations so you never end up like one of those sorry businesses regretting getting involved with reviews in the first place. 

How Customer Reviews Can Backfire

Reviews are not a perfect system. It’s never a one and done kind of job, but rather It’s a work in progress that gets easier the more you do it. The more experience you have, the easier it will be for you to recognize potentially dangerous situations.

But if you’re new to the game and don’t know where to begin, here are 5 times customer reviews backfired and ways you can resolve them.

Reviews Can Set Unrealistic Expectations

I bet you never thought I’d be saying to be cautious of getting raving reviews. But overly positive reviews tend to inflate customer expectations about the product or service you offer, which in turn creates a disappointing experience if it doesn’t live up to the hype. 

Contrary to popular belief, overselling your business is not a good thing. You want to create accurate and reasonable customer assumptions about your business and what you offer. Online reviews should provide a true reflection of the quality of the products or services you offer. 

Since you don’t have any control over what the customer writes about your brand in a review, you’re susceptible to being inaccurately represented online. But there are steps you can take to quell the issue before it gets bigger.

Embrace accuracy and if a customer writes a review that is inaccurate and embellishes the truth, you can respond in a nice way without condoning their comments by saying something like this:


Thank you for your enthusiasm for our business! We are so glad you’re enjoying your experience with us. However, we don’t offer [SERVICE/PRODUCT] and don’t want to give the wrong impression to other customers. Thank you again for your excitement and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

Warm regards,


Customers Can Misinterpret Your Response

Don’t leave room for ambiguity. If you respond to a customer review, make it crystal clear. By doing this you run less of a risk of someone challenging your response or misinterpreting what you mean.

Regardless of the kind of review you are replying to, always aim to avoid conflict and appease the customer. You never want to come across as argumentative because it makes you appear unprofessional. 

If a customer is unhappy with their experience or even your response, swallow your pride and apologize. It’s always a good idea to adopt the mindset that the customer is always right. By doing this, you will most likely avoid this problem entirely.

You Gets Accused of Deleting Negative Reviews 

This is a big one. Let’s be clear, no brand’s online reputation is perfect (assuming they play fair). And that’s completely fine -- having mixed reviews actually benefits your business and makes you seem real; it will help build trust in your business more quickly.

But if you are receiving only positive reviews and someone condemns you for deleting negative reviews, stay calm. Take a moment to gather your thoughts and come up with a thoughtful response calmly explaining that they are mistaken. 

You don’t have to go overboard with this and apologize because you didn’t do anything wrong, but you should try to empathize with them and understand where they are coming from. 

You Get Blamed for Writing or Soliciting Fake Reviews 

The bottom line is that customers don’t want to feel like they are getting scammed. They choose businesses that appear genuine, credible, and trustworthy. If they think you are guilty of soliciting or writing fake reviews, your credibility goes out the window.

The obvious answer here's to never encourage fake reviews. That’s usually enough to keep you safe. However, if you happen to have reviews that seem fishy, you are able to flag them or report them to get taken down. Even if they are positive reviews, if they seem fake it is probably a wise idea to get them removed. 

You Sent a Review Request to An (Unknowingly) Unhappy Customer

Too many negative reviews can hurt your business -- it’s just part of the game. About 94 percent of online shoppers reported that a negative review has convinced them to avoid visiting a business. 

So, you don’t want to blindly send out mass review requests to all of your customers because some may have had a negative experience with your brand and get aggravated by the request, which could prompt them to turn to the internet to express their frustration.

Instead of sending out bulk review requests, you can send a feedback survey to keep the interaction private and make amends before it goes public. That way you can weed out the customers who have had bad experiences and make amends with them while also sending out review requests to those who responded positively to the survey.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Our relationship with reviews is complicated. As much as we’d like to ignore reviews entirely, that’s not a viable option. Reviews will be written whether you acknowledge them or not so it’s best that you're vigilant, proactive, and have a say in the conversation about your business so you never have to worry about running into trouble down the road.

Gillian Wilson
Gillian Wilson
The easiest way to connect your business with more customers.
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