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What To Do About Bad Reviews

July 6th, 2011 by Emira · 1 Comment

Over the rest of July, I’ll be answering some questions that were raised during our Small + Successful webinar we ran last month with GoToWebinar. We had several excellent questions, but sadly ran out of time to address them all. Here’s the first one.

Now that user generated content and social networking are the norm of the online world, it’s common place for even the most awesome of brands/products/services to suffer from negative online reviews. As business owners who pour our hearts and souls into what we do, hearing negative feedback can be really hard. Really, really hard. Sometimes devastating. It can also have a very real impact on our bottom lines if the negative reviews have high visibility or outweigh the positive ones.

So, what to do about negative reviews of your business on the interwebs?

  1. Perspective. There are always going to be grumpy people. There are always going to be people you can’t please. Sometimes it’s due to a misunderstanding of what you actually had on offer, sometimes it’s due to the fact that you did indeed fall short, and sometimes it’s because that particular customer was having a particularly terrible day which ended up colouring their experience of your business. Bummer? Yep. But, don’t let one or two negative reviews — especially if they don’t resonate with your perception of your business — drag you down. Try to look at the bigger picture. If you’re getting mostly positive reviews and a few negative/critical ones, don’t go changing on a whim to please one or two people, even if they’re the loudest voices. That said,
  2. Learn. Once you’ve got the perspective and distance to not take things too personally or be distracted by a lone grumpy voice, sit with the review and see if there’s something you can learn. Is this an opportunity for you to improve? Is there something you could have done differently? Is there a way to change your product or service to address the critique? Online reviews — both the good and the bad — can serve as an ongoing focus group for your business. Learn from them when you can.
  3. Don’t feel obliged to respond. Responding to feedback from customers online can be a really powerful tool, particularly in the world of social media. There are gobs of stories about grumpy customers being turned to evangelists through hearing that a company has been listening to their criticism and is interested in improving. When you see those opportunities, jump on them. But. If you strongly suspect that someone just can not be pleased or is maybe a little bit nutso (let’s all just agree this happens sometimes), be ok with walking away from your email/the internet for a while and forgetting you ever came across that feedback. You don’t actually need to make everyone happy.
  4. Negative reviews can build trust and boost sales. A lot of businesses are scared to include user generated product reviews directly on their websites for fear that negative reviews will hurt their sales, but it turns out the reverse is in fact true. People buy from companies/brands they trust. When customers only see positive reviews, they tend to get suspicious, whereas hearing some negative reviews helps to convince them that real people are trying and reviewing the products. Makes sense, no? So as long as the reviews out there in the world aren’t overwhelmingly negative, a few detractors may even help boost your brand.

Tags: Business Advice

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Alisha Moolla // Jul 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Thanks for this, Emira.

    I recently attended The Art of Marketing conference, and one of the speakers also spoke about how negative reviews tend to boost sales.

    In their example, the negative review actually served to reinforce why a person would want to buy the product/service (i.e., a photographer complains about the lack of complex functionality on a digital camera, but the average consumer really wants a simple model, so buys accordingly).