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How to Make Negative Online Reviews Work in Your Favor

How to Make Negative Reviews Work in Your Favor Image

People are going to leave negative reviews about your business.  As long as it is online there’s nothing you can do about it.

Your online reputation can have a large impact on your sales and they can either improve them or hurt them.  Negative reviews that are not handled correctly can be detrimental to your business’s online reputation.

But it’s not all bad…

If handled correctly, negative reviews can be used to your advantage; converting disgruntled customers into raving fans.

In this post you will discover three rules to taking those negative reviews and making them work in your favor.


1. Always respond

The first rule is to always respond to your negative online reviews.  Why is this important?

One reason is that your customers actually expect you to.  A study performed by ReviewTrackers showed that:

  • 52 percent of customers expect to hear back from you within 7 days of writing a negative review
  • 25 percent expect a response within 3 days
  • 21 percent expect you to respond within 24 hours

This means that just 2 percent don’t expect a business to respond.

Plus, seeing a business owner or manager respond to a negative review gives the impression that the business actually cares about its customers.

I know that when I get the impression that a concerted effort has been made to respond to a customer’s concerns, I feel more confortable spending my money with the business.


Tip: Want to stand out from your competitors?  Respond to ALL reviews in less than 24 hours!!


Negative Google reviews


2. Take the feedback to heart

The customer is NOT always right and you there isn’t anything you can do about trolls.  BUT for the most part, online reviews are honest and genuine.

Assuming that you are always trying to improve your business, a negative review is actually the perfect opportunity for you to do this.

There could be an issue with your customer serivice processes, a staffing issue or maybe a toxic employee.  Either way, negative online reviews should force you to confront these problems in your business and take action.

It’s important to stay on top of your reputation and how people are talking about your product or service.  20 years ago it would take months for a business’s reputation to spread and start to effect sales.  Now with review sites and social media, a bad customer experience can go viral with hours.

It’s almost always the negative ones that go viral because that’s how we are wired as humans.

By working out the kinks that are brought to your attention, you will have less negative reviews, your ratings will increase and your business will grow because of it.

According to Harvard Business School, just a one star increase in a restaurant’s Yelp profile increases its revenue by 5-9%!

What would that do for your bottom line?

Tip: Note every positive and negative review and communicate them to your staff



3. Respond positively

While it’s important to respond, it’s even more important for your business to respond with a positive attitude.

I see so many businesses on review sites respond by blaming the customer or making excuses and those are big no-nos.

Likely the customer was angry at the time of the negative review.

You do not want to agitate them by blaming them or taking sides in your response.  They will never come back and they will likely steer their friends away.

You want to win the customer back, and you can by coming across positive, professional and proactive. Click To Tweet

Here’s a simple framework that should accomplish this:

  1. acknowledge their concerns by repeating them back to them in your response.  This immediately shows the customer that your response is not a canned one.
  2. without getting into too much detail, offer a logical or circumstancial reason why you think the incident may have occured and what you plan to do to fix the issue…again, without getting into too much detail
  3. and finally, offer to make it right with the customer on their next visit with a discount or special offer.  This gives you a chance to bring the customer back to your business and convert them!

At the very least a positive response will lead to more business.  And since many people trust online reviews just as much as they trust a friend recommendation,

Tip: If applicable, tell the customer to ask for you by first name on their next visit and offer a generous discount or free item


63% of consumers are reading reviews via search engine and most searches are done on a mobile device.  Without a mobile marketing strategy in place, your business is leaving a lot of money on the table and could possibly be at risk.  Our mobile app marketing packages are designed to improve your online reputation and increase sales for your business.  You can learn more about it by clicking through here.

All in all, online review sites are designed to make the buying decision easier for potential customers.  By responding to negative reviews in a positive way and steadily improving your business, you can make it a much easier decision for people looking for your product or service online.

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Bryan McNeil-Walker

Bryan "Don Suave '" McNeil-Walker is a marketing strategist and music producer. Through his digital marketing agency Alavon365, Bryan has generated over a million dollars in revenue for his small business clients. Coming from a musical family, (his father was lead saxophone player for Rock and Roll pioneer Little Richard) Bryan has always had a rare talent for making music. Along his journey he found that artists like him who have a disdain for the music industry have to master marketing as a necessity. His passion has lead to falling in love with marketing and coming up with the S.A.M. Method; a digital marketing framework that any creative entrepreneur or business owner can use to grow their business. Bryan is also co-founder of Uncord Technologies which has built an order ahead app for food trucks.