Getting a bad review for something you’ve invested a great deal of time and effort into can hurt. But the reality is that no matter what you create, there will always be people who don’t like it.

Now, there’s no need to rush off to take your course down and obsess about the review, because getting a bad review is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s seen as a sign that you’ve ‘made it’ in some circles. It’s the way you handle it that matters.

Firstly, you cannot take it personally because as soon as you do – you’ll react defensively which won’t help anyone.

“But, Lisa, I poured everything I had into that course, how can I NOT take it personally?”

I know, it’s difficult but you need to remember that unhappy people are much more likely to leave a review than happy ones. So, keep this in mind – that 1 bad review probably means that there are plenty of people who are happy or even love your course.

So, before you start typing a response detailing how wrong the reviewer is – I want you to move your finger away from that CAPS LOCK key and try these 3 things instead:

#1 Reach out to the reviewer privately
People (usually) don’t complain just for the sake of complaining so you need to try to see things from their point of view. Feelings are not rational, and they may just have been having a bad day when they posted the review. And possibly regret posting it, but if you call them out in a public forum, they may feel obliged to defend their position. If they’re a member of your course, you should have access to their email address in your course platform. Send them an email thanking them for their feedback and asking for specific details of what they’re not happy with (unless they provided this in the review).

#2 Make them happy or let them go
Depending on the feedback they give you – you now have something to work with. Maybe the course wasn’t what they were expecting, or they feel like something in the course content or delivery was missing. If it’s the latter that’s great feedback and something, you can work on adding to the course. If it’s the former, you may need to offer a refund. I know that may not be what you want, but it’s a quick and possibly easier solution. And you may also need to adjust the copy on your course sales page, so you don’t end up in the same position again. The important thing is that you hear what they have to say and propose a solution.

#3 Ask them to update their review
If you’ve managed to make them happy or at least feel that you reached an understanding, you can ask them to either edit the initial review or add a comment to say it was favourably resolved. This should work because you’ve worked together to resolve the issue. The worst that can happen is that they say no, in which case you can do this yourself, ie. if it’s posted on social media, you could comment below the review and @ the initial reviewer to say that you’ve come to an understanding. And if you agreed with their feedback – mention that you are working to improve the course based on their feedback.

So, a bad review doesn’t need to be a bad thing. Don’t assume the worst and try to remember how you felt the last time you complained about something, often it’s just because you felt ignored or just needed to vent. We’ve all been there. But if you take their complaints seriously and show a willingness to resolve the issue, they may end up helping you improve your course. Which is a win-win for all.

All course creators must deal with customer complaints at some point, so learning how to handle them with empathy and professionalism will take you far.