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Don't shy away from negative reviews. Embrace them! These best practices will help you use critical feedback to your reputation and business's advantage.
By Jane Garfinkel - Review Response Specialist
This might be hard to believe, but hear us out: negative reviews are often opportunities in disguise.
Yes, you read that correctly. While data shows 93% of consumers say reviews have an impact on their purchase decisions, negative reviews are not the end of the world. In fact, they can actually work in your business’s favor if you’re equipped with strategies on how best to respond.
Rest assured, there are many potential strategic benefits of facing the music, rather than shying away from customer criticism.
Many business owners hesitate to ask every customer for a review out of worry that it could surface additional negative feedback, or give unhappy customers a (very) public platform.
While negative reviews are an inevitable part of running any business, they don’t always have to be a catastrophic burden.
In this post, we’ll discuss the value of negative feedback to both your business’s reputation and operations - and how responding to negative reviews can ultimately strengthen your brand and boost customer satisfaction.
No business is perfect.
When customers visit a Google Business Profile and see that a company has only received 5 stars, they hesitate.
According to High Level Marketing, when there are no negative reviews, 30% of consumers assume the reviews are fake.
Since up to 40% of Amazon reviews are fake, who can blame consumers for being suspicious?
This is where negative reviews can play an important role in terms of confidence in objectivity. They demonstrate that your company isn’t manipulating or repressing online opinions.
Better yet, by responding to every review, a company demonstrates that it respects and appreciates their customers’ honest feedback. This gives further credibility to the positive reviews and your business in general.
Any business owner knows that there are limitless ways to improve their company, but how do they know which route to take?
Negative reviews can provide the answer.
For example: imagine your company has received seven poor reviews in the past quarter and five of them mention that your website is hard to navigate.
By tracking reviews, your business has collected solid data about a fixable issue that is deterring customers. Now you can put time and energy into updating your website with confidence that the expense is worthwhile because you are helping the bottom line.
Responding to negative reviews adds even more potential for information gathering. It is only when a customer agrees to discuss their issues further that a business will be able to benefit from their priceless personal feedback.
Open dialogue with an unhappy customer provides the best insights into a company’s greatest opportunities for growth.
A customer who leaves your facilities unhappy and doesn’t post about it online is not likely to patronize your business again. On the flip side, disappointed customers who leave a review are giving you the chance to win them back.
If a company is alerted to an issue and can resolve it quickly, an unhappy customer is much more likely to return to the business.
This is huge!
How you respond to negative reviews will greatly affect your loyalty rate. Soon after posting a bad review, a customer should receive a proper apology, a detailed solution, and perhaps some compensation for their trouble.
If this is done in a timely, professional manner, you will have created an opening for turning an unhappy customer into a loyal one.
The next time your business receives a negative review, view it as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. By utilizing a proper reputation management service such as Widewail, all of your reviews, even the bad ones, can work for you.
There’s nothing more frustrating than a reviewer mentioning a direct competitor in a negative review of your business.
While comparison is natural for consumers, especially when it comes to navigating negative experiences, it’s crucial to stay measured in how you respond to them on behalf of your business.
Negative reviews provide excellent insight into what your competitors might be doing differently or even better in the eyes of the customer.
By listening to the issues raised by your unhappy customers, you give yourself the opportunity to adjust to their expectations and enhance your offerings.
All in all, actively managing your business in context with your competitors will set you apart from the rest while demonstrating a dedication to customer satisfaction that instills trust.
Negative feedback can serve as a powerful teaching tool to instill and reinforce team values within your organization. When handled constructively, they can be transformative for your team's growth and development.
Negative reviews help you identify patterns where your customer service practices and operations may be lacking, exposing areas for both improvement and change. However, they also emphasize the significance of accountability and responsibility.
When your team takes ownership of customer issues and works collaboratively to address them, it strengthens their commitment to delivering exceptional service.
Further, by recognizing negative feedback, team members learn how to remain composed and professional when faced with criticism, focusing on solutions rather than dwelling on setbacks.
Having these authentic experiences to draw from and share internally will only equip your team with the knowledge they need to strengthen their customer service and enhance the customer experience overall.
Using negative feedback as inspiration for content creation is a great way to position your business as an authority in the marketplace.
Create informative blog posts or videos that address common customer questions or misconceptions highlighted in negative reviews. If you've made significant improvements based on negative feedback, showcase these successes in your marketing materials.
Incorporating negative feedback into your marketing strategy shows your willingness to learn and adapt on behalf of your customers and humanizes your brand by instilling trust.
It allows you to connect with your audience on a deeper level while positioning your business as an industry leader in addressing common issues.
Ultimately, utilizing the feedback you gather from negative reviews in your marketing materials will enhance your influence and the effectiveness of your campaigns overall.
People who leave negative reviews do so in order to have their stories heard.
However, after responding to thousands of negative reviews at Widewail, we’ve learned that more often than not, negative reviews are emotionally charged. As a result, they tend to paint a business in the worst possible light.
By responding to negative reviews, you give yourself the opportunity to offer your side of the story and share a different perspective on the situation.
As reviews are an otherwise one-sided conversation, the response platform provides current customers and prospects with insight into your business values and your customer service strategy.
We hoped these benefits have been helpful, and will encourage you to see negative reviews as an opportunity rather than a reason to hide in the stockroom. Embrace the criticism and use it to your advantage!
* Updated on 9/13/23 - Originally Published on 10/22/18
Learn the techniques our team uses to make every negative review a positive experience. In our latest guide we show you 19 example responses, including 8 negative reviews, each explaining a different technique you can use when responding to your reviews today. Download The Guide
I’m a New Jersey native who joined the Widewail team during my brief stint in Burlington. Now living in Jersey City, I currently serve as the Response Team Lead and Content Specialist. My background is in writing and my work has been published by Thrillist, Reductress, McSweeneys, The Rumpus, and more. I occasionally update my own blog No Meat, Some Potatoes, and in my free time I hang out with my dog Jake.
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