Catersource is part of the Informa Connect Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Why Bad Reviews Aren’t Always Bad

Seeing a bad review pop up for your business can stir up feelings of unworthiness, resentment, anger, and frustration. Your first instinct might be to give the reviewer a piece of your mind, but before typing up an emotion-fueled response, consider how you can view their feedback as a valuable learning lesson. 

After all, people don’t leave bad reviews out of boredom. Instead, they feel they’ve been wronged in some way and want to tell their story to others.

Simply put, bad reviews aren’t a sign that people are out to get you. So instead of taking their criticism personally, it’s best to embrace their honesty and use their comments to build a better business for your future clients.

Next time you get a poor review, remember that you have the power to turn it into a positive experience. Here are three reminders to change the way you view feedback.

They alert you to growth opportunities.

Bad reviews reveal areas for improvement in your business, whether it’s a gap in communication or inconsistent staff training. Try to read between the lines of your customers’ reviews and look past their emotions for genuine feedback that can help you develop better processes in the future.

But identifying what went wrong is only the first step. Once you’ve gathered insight from a negative review, sit down with your team and discuss ways to prevent a similar situation from happening again. For example, if there was a miscommunication about dietary restrictions, you might implement an extra step for clients to review and sign off on menu selections and any subsequent adjustments.

You can learn so much about what’s working and not working in your company, so don’t dismiss those bad reviews. Instead, reflect on them and treat negative feedback as an educational experience.

They open up meaningful conversations.

More often than not, people write bad reviews because they want to feel heard. And when they feel ignored by a brand, a single poor experience can evolve into distrust and a general case of brand aversion. However, the opposite can happen when a brand listens and engages with unhappy customers. 

In fact, with the right approach, you can turn brand aversion into brand affinity by using a bad review as an opportunity to nurture the client relationship. By showing you understand and want to resolve the problem, you’re telling customers that their satisfaction matters and that you’re ready to help. 

On review sites, having such a conversation in the public eye shows a commitment to transparency and service quality. So even if you don’t win back the original reviewer, you’ll earn the approval of others who are still getting to know your brand and want to know how you deal with conflict.

They establish credibility for your brand.

While it’s hard to imagine impressing someone with a bad review, negative feedback can demonstrate transparency and an openness to change. Think about it: Would you trust a product with only five-star reviews? Or are you more likely to choose the item with 4.5 stars and seemingly authentic feedback? 

A few not-so-satisfied customers show that your company is legitimate, but don’t worry—all those shining positive reviews will overshadow any doubt that arises! After all, even brands like Apple and Nike have their critics, so it’s best to accept that negative feedback is just part of doing business.

You can’t exceed expectations for every person when you run a business. Bad reviews are just as inevitable as good reviews, so try not to let your emotions rule the situation. Instead, treat it as a blessing in disguise and use the feedback to your advantage! 


Elizabeth Sheils

Co-founder, Rock, Paper, Coin

Elizabeth Sheils is the co-founder of Rock Paper Coin, the first software platform to bring together wedding planners, couples, and vendors into one system for managing and paying contracts and invoices. Elizabeth is also a lead wedding planner with award-winning firm Bridal Bliss, where she manages the Seattle team. She was recently recognized by Special Events in its Top 25 Event Pros to Watch series.