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I could end my post there, but I won’t, and I will tell you why. Context. Without context, things are pretty worthless. If you saw a review titled, “This Thing Sucks!”, you might think it was a bad review. But what if I told you, the review was about a vacuum. Immediately, with just a little more context, you went from thinking a review was bad to possibly good.

Let’s go deeper. I looked up a vacuum on Amazon randomly and found this Bissell pet vacuum.

Whats the first thing you notice?

  • It’s under $100
  • It has 4.5 Stars
  • Almost 20k reviews

At a glance, this looks like a good deal. Lots of reviews, high ratings and decent price. BUT WAIT! There’s More!

Here is a top review.


What do you notice?

  • Nicely titled, nicely written
  • 5 Stars – Really, 5 Stars?
  • Customer was paid to review – chances are they gave the product at least one more star just because of their kick back.
  • 1,364 people find this review helpful (not shown on screen shot)

Here is a top bad review.

What do you notice?

  • Not a paid reviewer, but a verified purchaser
  • Completely contradicts the great review above
  • Completely contradicts that this is a pet vacuum, which i in the description
  • 620 people find this review helpful (not shown on screenshot)

Here are a few more…

From the reviews listed here we can make some assumptions about the people who bought this vacuum:

  • Budget was around $100
  • Buyers are pet owners
  • Are probably Amazon Prime members
  • Looking for products that have a lot of reviews
  • And review rating of 4 stars or higher

How to read between the reviews!

Reviews give you a lot of information, verified purchase, if a person was paid for a review, general likes and dislikes of the product, but what they don’t tell you is more important. Reviews don’t tell you about the person who is giving the review.

For instance…

What if this vacuum was the first vacuum that the owner ever bought, furthermore, what if the owner had a hypoallergenic dog that did not shed. To this reviewer, this vacuum might be the bees knees or the cat’s meow.

Additionally, if the owner of this vacuum was a previous owner of a Dyson or a Miele vacuum and then bought this vacuum or if a pet owner had 2 large golden retrievers that shed 24/7, they might think this was the worst vacuum ever.

Context is everything!

I make this point to show that just the same way we are quick to judge reviews and comments about our place of business, our products and our services, we have to put it in context.

  • Why did our customer say that about us or our product/service?
  • Did we not set the right expectations?
  • Maybe we did not educate the customer enough?
  • Did we price ourselves to high or low?

We have to understand the context and hear the customers voice. Just how we let one bad review stop us from buying a product, we have to start letting context control the narrative, not content.

3 Easy Ways to Deal With Bad Reviews

  • Respond – to review, bad and good. Let people know you are active and engaged and want to make your customers happy. Users are more likely to disregard bad reviews when businesses respond. It helps place things into context.
  • Act – Don’t just respond to the review, reach out to the customer publicly and let them know you are following up. Then, actually follow up by email. If they don’t respond, it was probably not that big of a deal. If they do, you may have just got a return customer next time they need your service or product.
  • Take – the hit. Offer a discount on recent or next order. Do something to show you want to earn their trust. It doesn’t have to be much. It is much easier to retain existing customers that are happy than to acquire new customers that have no emotional connection.

I call this my RAT method. Just how one rat can ruin a restaurant, one bad review can do the same. If you are having problems with bad reviews, try this out. You always need to first understand why your customers are doing what they are doing, whether buying from you or leaving nasty reviews, but always remember, without context, nothing matters.