How to Respond to a Bad Review


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What happens when a review finds fault? Stop and think about it; maybe the reviewer is right. Perhaps your idea is only half-baked, or the product really could be improved. Maybe the reviewer wondered if there was a market for your product, and perhaps they have a point. In any case, an unfavorable review is not the end of the world. Don’t fire your publicity person, and don’t consider the reviewer to be your enemy. You may disagree with the reviewer’s opinion, but bite your tongue. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and it’s never a good idea to argue with people who buy ink by the barrel.

Instead, do your best to mend fences. Call or write the reviewers and tell them you appreciate their comments and that the company is striving to address the issues they raised in their review. This approach will help create a receptive atmosphere for a subsequent review of the revised product. Here’s an example:

Recently, a product was panned in PC Magazine. The reporter liked the product, a computerized shorthand program, but thought there was no need for this product category. The review did say the program was useful in some applications, so the company could capitalize on that. The reviewer misunderstood the market in which the product was successful.

The company whose product was reviewed wrote a friendly letter pointing out the misunderstanding, and invited the reporter to see a demo of the next version of the product. The reporter was willing. By being polite and factual, the company built a positive relationship with the reporter, and will perhaps get better reviews in the future. (The very next day, by coincidence, Personal Computing and Home Office Computing rated that same product as one of the best of the year. There’s no accounting for taste!)

You should also take the time to look objectively at the review and cull out the things that the reviewer sees as being truly positive. Perhaps you’ll want to adjust your marketing message to emphasize the features and benefits the reviewer found valuable. Also, make sure your development department gets a copy of the review, since the negative points the reviewer raised may never have come up before.