No business owner likes to receive negative online feedback from customers – especially in the digital age when a business’s digital footprint determines customer acquisition and retention rates.
However, negative online reviews are inevitable.
If you’ve recently gone through a less-than-stellar performance review, do not lash out and become defensive.
Try to nip bad online reviews in the bud rather than adding fuel to the fire by getting angry or defensive when responding to negative reviews – not to mention that negative online reviews are not as bad as you think.
In this post, we explore how to handle negative customer reviews tactfully and efficiently in order to turn them into positive marketing. You will also learn more about the positive side of negative reviews, so grab a cup of coffee and settle in for a good read!
Table of contents:
- Why are negative customer reviews good for your business?
- 4 ways to turn negative reviews into positive marketing
1. Why Are Negative Customer Reviews Good For Your Business?
Most business owners are doing everything in their power to collect positive online reviews (especially Google My Business reviews).
Believe it or not, earning only positive reviews isn’t imperative for business success.
Yes, getting a bad customer review may feel like a punch in the gut, but there’s a positive side to negative feedback.
Here’s how to use customer criticism to grow:
- Get opportunities for improvement
Negative reviews shed light on what made the customer’s experience unsatisfactory, so they give you a great opportunity to identify and meet your customer needs.
Bad reviews provide you with meaningful business insights you’d normally get from market research which is a big investment, both in terms of time and money.
Use negative reviews to improve everything from marketing to client service and create a customer-responsive culture that puts customers at the core of your business (the formula for surefire business success).
- Build brand credibility with authentic customer reviews
Customers know that some businesses choose to purchase reviews to build their online reputation. According to NBC News, there are thousands of questionable reviews on Amazon, Yelp!, Facebook, and Google.
The NBC News investigation has also shown that it is possible to purchase hundreds of positive reviews for a new business that has never done any work.
That’s why negative customer reviews are a sign of authenticity as they nurture consumer trust. As a result, people are more likely to trust your business and the products or services you sell.
- Increase your conversion rate
Strange as it may seem, negative customer reviews are one of the most effective conversion tools out there.
Your conversion rates increase when people spend more time on your website, viewing more pages and trusting the information you provide about your products or services.
It is simply because consumers want to make informed decisions, see both positive and negative reviews, and know the worst-case scenarios when buying your products.
So, a healthy mix of positive and negative reviews are more likely to turn leads into customers and help you create a sales funnel that converts like crazy.
Whenever negative customer feedback feels like a slap in the face, remember the golden words of Bill Gates: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
Great businesses use customer feedback to make changes and improve.
Let’s see some effective ways to turn negative reviews into a gold mine of opportunities and drive business growth.
2. 4 Ways To Turn Negative Reviews Into Positive Marketing
This short guide will discuss how to convert negative customer feedback into a positive experience, so let’s walk through 4 steps to doing just that.
1. Learn to make the difference between constructive and destructive feedback
When you start building business online visibility, you will find that there are two types of negative reviews: constructive (helpful) and destructive (harmful).
While constructive criticism is based on valid facts or observations, destructive criticism is often full of inaccuracies and even insults.
Constructive feedback is meant to help your business grow stronger and become more customer-centric, while destructive feedback is designed strictly to harm your business.
It is essential for you to identify constructive vs. destructive feedback so you can determine the actionable steps you need to take in order to use negative reviews to your advantage.
2. Respond to negative reviews
Respond to negative reviews is one of the core responsibilities of your customer service.
Here is how you should handle public criticism:
If you receive constructive criticism:
- Find out what exactly happened by conducting an investigation to get the full picture.
- Write a rage-free response.
- If you were in the wrong, apologise and show that you understand the consequences of your customer’s experience with your business. You can also offer your unhappy customers a monetary remedy (e.g., money back, free replacement, etc.).
- If you didn’t do anything wrong, clarify that the source of their bad customer experience wasn’t your business.
If you receive destructive criticism:
- An effective way to deal with destructive criticism is to report the review to the platform. Most online platforms allow you to flag inappropriate reviews and remove them.
- If you’re good at writing using humour (or have a team member who is), respond to destructive criticism with authentic, tasteful humour. You can get some inspiration from 30 of the funniest restaurant comebacks to negative reviews.
3. Correct your mistakes and advertise changes
As previously shared, apologising, admitting fault, and showing empathy when responding to negative reviews is critical to your business reputation (if you were really in the wrong).
However, taking ownership of your mistakes is not enough.
Correct your mistakes and put in place systems that allow you to avoid future problems and customer complaints.
When customers see you’re acting to correct your mistakes in good faith, don’t be surprised if they stay loyal to your brand or write impressive follow-ups.
Once you correct your mistakes, advertise these changes via ad campaigns, blog posts, and other types of content. Tell your prospects and customers that you’ve been able to fine-tune your product and website thanks to their constructive feedback.
4. Be genuine: never copy and paste the same message
Being genuine and authentic means staying true to who you are and what you do and treat every customer as if they’re your only customer.
Copying and pasting the same review response template doesn’t add any value to the customer or give substance to your business and products or services.
Using the same review response template over and over again makes you appear less authentic. It’s like saying to a customer, “Your experience with my business is so insignificant that it doesn’t deserve a specific, personalised response”.
If you’re running a small business, the best way to build authenticity and make your customers feel truly valued is to get a professional virtual receptionist (whether they are included in a virtual office or not).
If you provide great customer service and treat your customers’ problems with empathy, they are more likely to forgive a mishap and stay loyal to your brand.
Conclusion: Negative customer reviews are a gold mine for your business.
If bad customer reviews still make you cringe, consider the positive side and how they can help you improve your business, build trust, and increase customer retention rates.
Apply the tips in this post to turn life’s negative lemons into sweet, positive lemonade by using bad customer reviews to fuel your business’s growth!
If you liked this post and believe that business reputation and brand authenticity are essential for achieving wild success, give us a shout. We can provide your remote business with a cost-effective virtual office to polish your brand image and increase online visibility. And you know what the best part is? Each of our virtual offices includes a unique physical business address you can use to claim a business listing on review platforms to collect more reviews and reach a wider target market. We’d love to hear from you!