Best brands don’t hide their negative reviews - they act on them!

Apr 2, 2019

Businesses tend to fear bad reviews, thus delete or hide them away. In contrary, negative reviews can even have positive impacts on their businesses if they seize the opportunity to leverage them. In this article, we'll go in-depth about why you need negative reviews, and how to respond to negative reviews in ways that help your business grow.  

Bad reviews aren’t bad at all…

Here are 3 reasons why:

Reason #1: Bad reviews show that your brand isn’t fake

There is no size that fits all. Every product and service in this world cannot live up to everyone’s expectations. 100% perfect reviews just don’t exist. Period.

Most businesses should strive to earn as many great reviews as possible to create social proof, but they shouldn’t put all focus on avoiding negative reviews. Negative reviews are part of the real picture: no matter how many people love your product, there is always someone who hates it because it doesn’t work the way they want.

If a product has all 5-star compliments, customers might highly likely think that the business owner either removes negative feedback or creates the good ones themselves. In whatever way, the business seems not authentic and upright to customers. According to a report by Vendasta, “95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores.”

Do you want people to see your brand that way? Believe it or not, having negative reviews proves that your brand is not fake and that you are transparent and have nothing to hide.

Reason #2: Negative reviews give you a chance to show the human side of your business

2.1 Reviewer is unreasonable and just wants to vent his anger

This is what you are most afraid about. But guess what - people aren't stupid and can also see that the reviewer is trying to just pour out their anger. Reply in a calm and polite way, show your side of the story.  This shows that your are not shady or neglectful to feedback, and have done everything you could to fix the problem. This will show the future customers what you do if things go bad and will boost their trust in you.

2.2 You messed up - just say it!

Bad times happen to everyone, and to businesses too. Your business is run by people who can make mistakes from time to time. Unsatisfied customers would resent and fight excuses, but find empathy for sincere apologies and reasonable explanations.

A package not delivered on time might be because your newly hired fulfilment staff had messed up her new job. Support calls not picked up might be because your team was gathering for a birthday celebration. If you do have a story behind the bad experiences caused to your customers, don’t be afraid to say it out loud. It is the human side of your business that you should not cover. Negative reviews show that real people are working behind your business.

Reason #3: Bad reviews help customers make better buying decisions

One of the biggest pain points of online shopping is that shipped products don’t meet people’s expectations. Negative reviews don’t necessarily mean that the products are bad. They provide details about how the products may perform at its worst or whom the products don’t work for.

In that way, negative reviews alongside positive ones help customers make informed purchase decisions and adjust their expectations by knowing what can go wrong in the worst scenarios.

How to effectively deal with negative reviews

Many businesses are so afraid of confronting negative reviews that they choose to keep silent and ignore them. This course of actions kills customer trust that businesses work so hard to earn.

Another way to turn the situation around is to take your responsibility, respond directly and seek solutions.

Below are 3 definitive rules that help you manage negative reviews in ways that benefit your business:

Rule #1: Stay respectful and thank bad review writers for giving you feedback

You should be thankful to customers who write you negative feedback as you are to those who give you compliments because their insights show you what is going wrong with your business and where you can improve. Most of the time, these are problems you cannot see through by yourself.

Don’t treat bad review writers as evils who are trying to sabotage your business. Instead, respect them as your business savers.

Rule #2: Investigate the root causes of problems and genuinely tell your story

Before you respond to bad feedback, always get to the bottom of the issues by conducting internal investigations to make sure that you fully understand what happened and that your following responses are backed up by real facts.

While you can leave 5-star reviews unanswered, don’t forget to reply to all negative reviews with an understanding and professional manner. Your comments assure unsatisfied customers that their feedbacks are noticed and will be handled properly.

If you’re selling on Shopify, Opinew system is highly recommended for resolving negative reviews for your products. The app allows you to respond to every review and highlights resolved reviews with a green message.

Rule #3: Offer solutions, not excuses and defenses

If you decide to confront negative reviews instead of getting away from them, come up with viable solutions, not excuses and defenses. Sometimes, you will find that the reviews are exaggerating and unfair to you, but your defensive manners would only worsen the situation.

How BLK & Bold handles their negative reviews is a great example that brands should follow.

Respond to Negative Reviews - Be transparent
Respond to Negative Reviews - Be transparent 

The team publishes their responses to bad reviews on the website, so they are transparent to all potential customers about how they handle cases. In the above example, they apologized first and foremost, then briefly explained the procedure, and offered the collection of the faulty product as well as a direct support line to create a smooth refund process!

Even in cases that what happened cannot be reversed or fixed, you should always try to make it up for your clients at all costs:

Respond to Negative Reviews - Always try to make it up for your clients
Respond to Negative Reviews - Always try to make it up for your clients

If you want to learn more about handling these objections, we have an in-depth article about understanding the psychology behind negative reviews and examples of replying to them.

Feel free to have a look and get the idea at How to Respond to Negative Reviews With Examples.

Reviewing Reviews

Understanding Customer Reviews

Customers use reviews in countless different ways so it is always important to understand how, what, and why a review is left. If it is a legitimate issue, tell your customer how your feedback will be taken on board and encourage them to let you show a better service on their next experience. If the issue is geared towards ranting, then by honestly and calmly addressing concerns, others reading reviews and responses can get a strong idea of how you operate.

Man shouting at a customer down the phone

You Probably Shouldn’t Abuse Your Customers

So this should go without saying, but whether your customer is right or wrong, never abuse them… Yes, it can be hurtful to read negative reviews, particularly if you feel it’s unjustified. Whilst it can be tempting to be aggressive or demeaning, this rarely ends well. Glasgow Live picked this up, where the manager of the perhaps unwisely named ‘Best Kebab’ in Glasgow’s city centre received some less than stellar reviews. When a reviewer referred to the store as “manky” and “overpriced”, the communication-savvy owner responded “your gaff is manky yet you don’t see me complaining about your maw’s cooking after I pump her, barred!” Roughly translated for non-Glasgow based readers; your home is a mess and I don’t complain about your mother’s cooking after we have sex, you are no longer welcome in my establishment.

Naturally, this increased exposure due to the seedy nature and aggressive message of the owner has been unpleasant and is likely to impact negatively on customer traffic. If you were looking for the best kebab and this was the experience you were facing, you’d probably settle for the second best kebab and skip the abuse.

Customers should always be treated with respect and transparency, and by addressing concerns head on and accepting responsibility and opportunities to improve, you can develop a strong customer-service lead offering to your consumers. You turn your negative reviews, into positive reviews - you show your customers that your aim is to provide the best experience. If you can showcase these trust signals, new customers will have the faith to do business with you.

Keeping Positive Reviews Positive

On the flip side, when positive reviews are received, you shouldn’t rest on laurels. In the same way Dropshipping brings retail sales to a very individual level, your customers are individual too. By not responding, this can sour a positive experience where people have taken their time to give you positive reinforcement. Taking the time to thank people for their responses, encouraging them to return and buy again and adding a personal touch will resonate with consumers when they are in the market for future services.

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Bad reviews help businesses win more loyal customers

There is a high chance that happy customers will stay with your business for years. How about unhappy ones?

How you deal with unhappy customers’ issues tells a lot about your business. If you take them seriously and are determined to solve them to the bottom, you show customers that you treat them with respect and care, and you truly want to improve your business.

Once unhappy customers are satisfied, they will trust that their purchases are safe with you and be more willing to become loyal advocates.

Negative reviews, just like positive ones, open opportunities for brands to grow and win customers. Treat each one with all your attention and you would be grateful for that.

Featured photo by Jonathan Rados on Unsplash.

Tomas Laurinavicius

Lifestyle blogger, content marketing consultant & entrepreneur from Lithuania. Co-founder of Content Writing Jobs.

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