Negative ReviewsSmall businesses know there’s nothing more valuable than reputation. With online review sites like Google Reviews, Yelp, Facebook and Angie’s List, customers have easy access to review and rate your product and service at any time. While you may pride yourself on stellar customer service, receiving negative reviews are inevitable. But how you respond with a heated customer will speak volumes to your other potential customers who may end up reading it days, weeks or even a year later.

Statistics about Online Reviews

A study by Invespro showed some pretty serious statistics about online reviews. Take a look at the kind of impact they can have on your business.

  • 90% of consumers read a business’ online reviews before visiting their location.
  • 88% of consumers trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation from friends of family.
  • 72% say that positive reviews increase their trust in a business.
  • Consumers are likely to spend 31% more with a business who has “excellent” reviews.
  • 92% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy from a local business if they have a five-star rating.
  • 72% will take only action after reading a positive review.
  • It’s estimated that a single negative review can cost a business close to 30 customers.

Don’t let criticism bring you (or your business) down, here’s how to handle negative reviews and turn them into a positive experience.

1. Pay Attention to Reviews

At the push of a button, customers can easily share their opinions; most people are doing it when they’re either really happy….or not so happy. Schedule time in your week to read through online reviews. If you don’t respond quickly, you could wind up with more than one negative reviews complaining about similar things.

Bad reviews happen; read through them objectively and take a deep breath before you respond.

2. Respond to Both Positive and Negative Reviews

While you might feel like trying to hide all negative reviews from the world, deleting unhappy comments won’t help your reputation in the long run. If you hide a disappointed review, it will not silence the voice. That reviewer will be driven to leave an even more vitriol statement on other sites. Plus, anything without a touch of imperfection could appear “too good to be true.” In fact, a 2013 study by Harvard Business School found that the majority of customers trust reviews more when they see a mix of positive and negative feedback.

Demonstrate to all your customers that you’re listening by responding publicly instead of handling it privately via email. Face the good, the bad and the ugly head on. But before you reply, take a step back.

It’s never a good idea to respond out of frustration. Express that outstanding customer service we know you have, show that you’ve heard their complaint, empathize with the customer (apologize for any mistakes- you’re human after all) but at the same time, stand firm with company policies. Use negative reviews as an opportunity for your business to grow; learn from the feedback and make it right with the customer.

And don’t forget to acknowledge the positive comments which offer up a solid chance to build customer loyalty and a strong community feel. A simple “thank you” or Like will make the customer feel valued. If you receive an especially glowing review, ask for permission to share their review throughout social media.

3. Invite Reviews

Reviews matter. According to WebRepublic, products with positive reviews sold 200% more than products with no ratings.

Many customers will read at least four reviews before they feel they can trust a business; they need product and service reviews to influence their purchasing decision. Plus, to get star ratings, businesses need five Google reviews (ten or more reviews will boost your rankings). How do you get customers to write reviews?

Just ask!

Create a Link for Google Reviews

Google has outlined how to create a direct link to make it easy for your customers to leave a quick review.

  1. Visit to the Google Places API.
  2. Enter your business information in the “Enter a location” field at the top of the map.
  3. Click your business name in the list that appears.
  4. Your Business Place ID will appear on the map, under your business name.
  5. Add your Place ID to this URL for your custom link: https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=<place_id>

Supplement Reviews with Powerful Content

Reviews are a direct reflection of your business. Use customer reviews to your advantage by turning a negative into a positive. Prospective customers will take notice. But outside of customer reviews, powerful content is also a must. Check out our recent blog post, “Get Your Audience to Actually Read Your Posts: Why Professional Content on Facebook Works,” to find out more.

Don’t have time to generate the professional content needed to post on Facebook? Let the experts at Post Café help you get connected with all the content you need to promote on your social media channels. If you’d like more detailed information, call us at 732-218-9377.