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How to Handle Bad Reviews As An Interior Designer

interior design

client communication

Interior designers remember: a bad review won't kill you, it will only make you stronger.

Words by 

Sophia Angel Lou Quiachon

Published on 

October 19, 2023

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As an interior designer, you seek to please every client you take on.  And in an ideal world, clients would have nothing but good things to say about you after a project. But unfortunately, that isn't always the case.

Criticism and negative reviews are an inevitable part of running your own interior design business. It's normal for interior designers to receive bad reviews every now and then. You just can't please everyone. However, it's critical to know how to make amends with your client and turn this into a positive learning experience.

Remember: The only bad feedback is the feedback you don't get. So instead of beating yourself up over it, learn how to handle negative client feedback and channel it to improve your interior design business.

Why client feedback matters to interior designers

Positive reviews reinforce your marketing. The feedback of previous clients informs prospective clients about all the good things you bring to the table. Incorporating positive reviews into the marketing of your interior design business will attract new clients, build trust, and consolidate your reputation. Here are a few benefits of collecting client feedback as an interior designer...

  • Improve your marketing. You can use good reviews to create a better marketing strategy. Some of the most common ways to use reviews for interior design marketing are by pinning them on your social media page, and creating a client testimonial page on your interior design website.
  • Establish a positive reputation. Good reviews translate to stronger credibility. It tells potential customers that it's worth investing in your interior design services and that you're skilled enough to get the job done excellently.
  • Develop your skills. There is always more to learn as an interior designer. Reviews will break down your service from the client's perspective, so you can see what aspects of your interior design service you can improve.

What to do when you receive a bad interior design review

Whether a beginner or an established interior designer, a bad review feels like a straight punch to the gut. Negative client feedback could make you angry, or even make you doubt your skills as an interior designer—this shouldn't be the case.

Regardless of what you're feeling in this moment, stay above your emotions. This isn't about you, it's about the work done on this particular project. This means that when the issue gets addressed, it can put your business in a better spot moving forward.

Here are the do's and don'ts of how to handle negative client feedback as an interior designer...

Don't make excuses

The first step is to not get defensive. Sometimes designers either deny the experience, pass the blame back to the client, or ignore it altogether.

The last thing you want to happen is to unknowingly dismiss your client's feelings just to protect your own. This leaves an impression to potential clients that you don't value their opinions if it does not align with yours.

Do take responsibility for your actions

When you receive a negative review from an interior design client and get that urge to respond and defend yourself—pause. Put yourself in the shoes of your client and try to understand their side.

After, you can write an appropriate response. Apologise and thank them for their honesty, validate their experience, briefly state your side of the story, and conclude with a plan of action.

Don't respond rudely or curse them out

Sometimes, you'll encounter toxic clients who like to strike below the belt. They intentionally provoke you to gauge an unprofessional reaction.

Because your feelings may get in the way, you may fall right into their trap without knowing it. So how should you reply to rude comments?

Do respond professionally when you receive a rude review

Do not try to 'match' their energy or respond just as sarcastically. Any rude behaviour, even as a defence, will hurt you more than them. It makes you look childish to potential clients.

Don't ignore or edit the review

Some websites and social media platforms give you the authority to edit or delete reviews. This is particularly helpful if you want to censor private information or if the review is too long.

For this reason, it can be tempting to just delete or rewrite a bad review to keep that 100% satisfaction rating—but will it let you sleep soundly at night? Maybe not so much.

Do respond honestly and immediately

Even with the power to manipulate what's seen on your page, you can't change the fact that it did happen. Doing so will only stir confusion among clients and will decrease the trust they have in you.

The only thing you can do is censor any foul words or derogatory remarks. Then, make sure to respond as quickly as possible to prevent looking like you're avoiding the issue.

Don't take it to heart

A negative review is an opportunity to learn, not to beat yourself up. Don't let one or two negative client reviews take away your crown. Otherwise, you might miss the sea of opportunities life has to offer.

Do learn from your mistakes

Think about how to channel negative reviews positively into your career. What areas do you need to improve on? How do you resolve these issues? How do you make up for it?

If you're at a dead end, you can always reach out to fellow interior designers or seek the help of an interior design mentor.

The takeaway

At the end of the day, constructive criticism from clients is an integral part of the journey to becoming a more successful interior designer. By channeling negative client reviews the right way, they can be used as valuable lessons that help you to grow and improve as an interior designer and as a business owner.

Resist the urge to make excuses, respond rudely, or edit or ignore the review. Instead, take responsibility for your actions, respond professionally, and focus on self-improvement. Only you know your own worth and potential, use these reviews as a catalyst to improve the quality of your interior design business.

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