Bad Reviews into Best Customers

  • 2 Min read

In 2014, my cofounder and I launched Roomhints mobile application. The first version of the app-enabled users to upload a photo of their room, search for products and talk to a designer. We were very unsure whether this concept had legs. Advisors and friends said that no one would ever upload their private home to an app. But we had a hunch and were curious to find out. Here is our story of Roomhints app and turning bad reviews into lifelong customers.

We did not want to spend too much time hypothesizing whether this would work or not and built a quick mobile application within 2 weeks and launched it. The mobile application got 20,000 downloads within the first week and crashed.

Everything broke. Crashed.

Customers were leaving bad reviews on iTunes and our inboxes were flooded with people complaining that the app crashed after they uploaded a picture, that the pictures and products they uploaded and saved disappeared. I hated the feeling of people using our product but it not working for them and in general, people being unhappy with what we had built.

They took the time to leave a bad reviews, they could have just closed the app and carried on with their day. But the bad reviews were a data point that illustrated they wanted this product but not in the way it was functioning.

Don’t throw a negative on a negative.

1. Introduce Yourself to the Person who Wrote the Bad Reviews

So, I sent a message to all the early users and explained our story.


Thank you very much for your interest in Roomhints. We are overjoyed with the number of people who have downloaded this app.

Here’s the deal, we are a small startup, a team of 2, and this first iteration of the product was a test to see if there was a market for this concept. Now that over 20,000 people have downloaded this app, we are dedicated to building a better version that will scale and work for everyone.

We want to meet you, please write back and say hello. I dare you! Let us know why you downloaded the app and what problem you are hoping Roomhints helps you solve.

All the best,

Roomhints Team.

2. Ask to Join the Mission

From the email we sent to users who were unhappy with Roomhints app, 30% wrote back. I jumped on the phone with those who had the time and got a clear idea of why they downloaded Roomhints and got an insight into the problems they wanted Roomhints to solve. By the end of the call, we were friends. They changed their bad reviews on the iTunes app store from 1 star to 5 stars and more importantly built a strong sense of trust with all our customers.

These early users who hated the app, in turn, became our most valuable users. I asked them if they would like to be apart of Roomhints Ambassador community. 80% joined the Ambassador community and helped with beta testing, joined a private community where we discussed what features that were working and had early access to deals.

3. Work Together

The early Roomhints Ambassador community was integral to the success of Roomhints app. The ability to have a direct relationship with our customers led us to understand exactly what customers wanted. The more we worked together with this Roomhints Ambassador community the more they loved the product and in turn, would share the product with their audience. This was a huge surprise. We did not ask or prompt them to share Roomhints however, the more time they spent helping us the more they wanted to help the app to be a success.

Two members of this Roomhints Ambassador group, who both wrote bad reviews about Roomhints app, six months later joined on to work for Roomhints.

For more business success tips check out our article on how to build a strong brand.

Tiff Willson

Tiff Willson is a technology entrepreneur, investor and keynote speaker. Today she is the founder of the #1 platform for sustainable interior design

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