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Negative Online Reviews and how to deal with them

It’s never pleasant receiving poor feedback but negative online reviews are not necessarily a bad thing & can actually be used to your advantage.

Reading time: about 2-3 minutes

In this digital age online reviews now play a huge role in influencing customer’s buying choices. According to a recent survey by Bright Local a whopping 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation (see full survey results here). With that in mind, I often hear concerns from new businesses about setting up social media accounts or listing their business on directory websites purely because of their fear of possibly receiving negative online reviews.

In my opinion this is nothing to fear; not only do the benefits of online reviews far outweigh the risks but as strange as it may sound, receiving negative feedback is not necessarily a bad thing.

Negative Online Reviews can actually be used to your advantage for a number of reasons:

  • You’re human and humans aren’t perfect so seeing the odd negative comment among your list of reviews can make them more authentic (and not just a heap of 5-star reviews submitted by your friends!)
  • If other potential customers see that you are actively handling problems (and not ignoring unhappy customers) this is going to give them greater confidence in you.
  • You may just receive some feedback that helps you to improve your products and/or services; contributing to the growth and ongoing success of your business.

How to Respond to Negative Online Reviews

Respond promptly, but take a deep breath first

People expect a quick response in the online world so you need to deal with this promptly, but at the same time when you are best equipped to do so. Understandably you might feel sad or angry after reading negative online reviews but the worst thing you can do is respond to them when you’re still upset. So go grab a coffee & some chocolate and deal with it after you’ve cooled down and have a clear head.

Be professional and understand the customer’s point of view

There’s nothing worse than reading a response to a negative review that is defensive, making excuses or sometimes even rude; even if you disagree with their comments or if they are being unreasonable you need to be polite, professional and keep your personal thoughts to yourself. You need to try and understand why the customer has posted it and what their pain points are if you hope to have a successful outcome.

If the review is valid:

If they have a justifiable complaint, take responsibility for it and do what you must to address the situation. Most people understand that sometimes things just don’t go quite to plan, but if you take ownership of it and resolve the situation you’ll earn their respect and they may even change their review as a result. Furthermore, if other current or potential customers see this, it will give them greater confidence in your customer service.

If the review is unfair:

No matter what you do, there will be the odd occasion where someone just cannot be satisfied and may even be unreasonable. In these cases, again address the customer’s complaint and make it known what steps you have taken to resolve the issue. Even if they don’t change/remove their review, most people understand that some people just cannot be pleased, but if you at least demonstrate that you have tried everything to make a difficult customer happy, it’s only going to reflect positively on you.

Take it offline if necessary

If things don’t go quite to plan, it might be prudent to take the conversation offline. Provide them with your direct contact details so you can deal with it privately; any continual negative back-and-forth that is public won’t be helpful to anyone.

If it comes to it, ask for the review to be removed

If the review is intentionally malicious or breaks any rules (swearing, personal attacks etc.) you can reach out to the site owner and ask for it to be removed. This can be a slow process sometimes or the site owner might disagree with you, so it’s always best to try everything else first and remember to keep your cool.

Learn and move forward

It’s never pleasant receiving a negative review but you can also turn it into a positive by learning something from it. As a result of the negative feedback you can:

  • Address any flaws in your products and/or services that might have been previously overlooked
  • Re-write some of your website copy or terms & conditions to give customers more accurate expectations
  • Adjust some of your business practices to address the issues raised
  • Learn how to avoid certain problems in the future or if they do arise, be able to deal with them appropriately

Final note: “How many people are completely successful in every department of life? Not one. The most successful people are the ones who learn from their mistakes and turn their failures into opportunities.” Zig Ziglar

More Helpful Links

Here are some related articles you might find useful:

  • Online reviews – a guide for business & review platforms:
    This guide has been designed to help you ensure the integrity of reviews on your site or about your business…
  • Local Consumer Review Survey:
    This survey explores how consumers read and use online reviews. The information contained in this survey helps businesses and digital marketing agencies qualify the value of consumer reviews and how reviews impact consumers’ opinions and actions when searching for local businesses…
  • Google+ It’s more important than you think:
    We all know that reviews play a huge role in online marketing and influencing a customer’s buying choices. As google is by far the most popular search engine, having reviews on there is super important!…

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