How to Turn Negative Business Reviews into Marketing Fuel

November 26, 2018 Madeleine

We live in a consumer society that has evolved greatly over the last decade. Whereas products and services in years past were purchased simplistically without much elaboration, today’s modern consumers hold a collective purchasing behavior that stands in stark contrast to the ways of yesteryear.

Consumers are now engaging in extensive research before making purchases, scouring online reviews on sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, and even Amazon to help them gauge the judiciousness of their purchase decision. Roughly 97% of consumers peruse online reviews, and 88% use them as a guide for purchase decisions and recommendations to others.

Yelp is a prime example of a website that consumers read before going to restaurants, hiring professional services, and visiting stores, salons, and many more establishments. Admittedly, Yelp can be of benefit to consumers, helping them make prudent decisions that enable them to avoid wasting money on subpar businesses and establishments.

However, there is a dark side to sites like Yelp, in addition to many considerations that consumers should be aware of. Countless reviewers leave negative commentary on businesses for a multitude of justifiable reason such as leaving a negative review out of spite, trashing competing businesses, or just leaving low ratings for ridiculous reasons such as a store closing early on a holiday.

For business owners, negative reviews are difficult to bear. Often stoking emotions of anger and sadness, many of these people feel helpless when it comes to dealing with poor reviews, which can often be unfairly scathing, and in turn, cause potential customers to think twice about purchasing their products or services.

Womply.com illustrates the example of a single 1-star review left for a restaurant. Through their research, they have found that the one single negative review has the potential to reduce patronage by up to two-thirds.

The New York Times has written at length about the problematic nature of online reviews. A recent article of theirs states that “research suggests that people heed negative reviews more than positive ones — despite their questionable credibility.” Business owners are very aware of this fact, and it is the very reason why each and very negative review has the potential to make a business’s success decline.

Examples Highlighting the Questionable Nature of Online Reviews

The Great Wall of China – a tour de force of architectural achievement – is rated on Google at just 4 stars. Sifting through the 9000 plus reviews, you will find one-star reviews with comments such as  “Not very tall. Or big. Just sayin. I kinda liked it.”

Another eyebrow-raising review stated “I don’t see the hype in this place it’s really run down and old,” while also complaining about the lack of modern updates such as no available USB plugs or outlets for use. Unarguably, criticizing the Great Wall of China for its lack of height, size, and lack of USB ports is utterly ridiculous. Yet, it has a less than stellar rating on Google due to reviews such as the ones listed above.

While the Great Wall of China can’t contend with its negative online reviews, business owners can take on a number of strategies to neutralize the impact of the less than stellar reviews left for them.

If you are a business owner fretting about negative online reviews about your business, read on below to learn simple strategies on how to deal with negative reviews and even render them advantageous to your business!

 

Haters Gonna Hate

Taylor Swift got it right with her song lyrics. Haters will always hate, and when they take aim at your business, it can cause detrimental effects. Yes, online reviews matter – there’s no getting around that fact. However, rolling with the punches and reigning your emotions in will pay off big time in the end.

No matter what, do not fly into a rage and post a scathing counter-response. Doing so will only make your business look worse.

Initial tips to employ when you get a negative review are as follows:

 Do not let your emotions take over and fly out of control

  • Do not take the review personally
  • Do not post a counter-response arguing with the reviewer
  • Take a breather, calm down, and think about the larger context of the situation.

    You could very well respond angrily to a spiteful customer and make yourself look even worse, or you can take some time, reflect on the situation and focus instead on the legions of potential customers who will make their decisions about you and your establishment based on what you say in response to a negative review

Flip the Script in Your Favor

You’ve learned by now that the way you deal with a negative online review can decrease your business immensely. However, once you get your emotions in check, you can strategize your way to using those negative online reviews as a way to fuel your business to growth and further success.

How to Make Negative Online Reviews Advantageous for You

A few negative reviews are inevitable; you just can’t please everyone. However, if you have numerous negative reviews, it’s likely there is a problem with your business that you need to address immediately.

  • Analyze: Examine the negative reviews. Look for commonalities in the statements so that you can get to the root of the problem.
  • Empathize: As com states: You might not agree with a customer’s opinion of what you sell and how you sell it, but if you are going to turn the situation around to make it work in your favor, you need to understand why the customer feels the way they do
  • Execute: Make immediate solutions to the problems your business is having. Once you find the root of the problem, address it immediately. If your restaurant is serving food cold, start finding solutions to produce hot food in a timely fashion.

If your salon is notorious for poor quality haircuts, focus on training your stylists further or perhaps hire more experienced personnel.

Whatever the issue may be, negative online reviews will help you find the problem, address it, and improve your business in ways that you weren’t aware of in the past

Additional Tips That Can Turn The Situation Around in Your Favor

  • Once you are calm, respond to the consumer
    • Ask questions
    • Show empathy
    • Apologize
    • Offer assistance
    • Offer incentives to come back
    • Show the thousands of people reading the reviews on your restaurant that you are an upstanding, classy, and dignified business owner who cares immensely about their business and their customers

Benefits of Negative Online Reviews

 Affords you the opportunity to respond to customer’s concerns directly

  • Shows them that you care about their patronage
  • Highlights your stellar customer service
  • Alerts you to problems within your business that you weren’t aware of
  • Can provide potential ideas for content marketing to further grow your business
  • Helps to identify problems with staff and their abilities to service customers in a high-quality manner

Conclusion

It goes without saying that no one likes a negative review. However, instead of becoming angry and responding in an emotionally charged manner, you can use negative reviews to your advantage and show off all the best facets of your business while identifying any problem areas that need to be improved.

Thus, business owners should take negative reviews in stride. Instead of ignoring it, or potentially making it worse, you can neutralize the situation by employing strategies to show the public that you are a caliber business worth frequenting.

Getting by in today’s competitive market is hard enough, with success hinging on a multitude of factors. Don’t let negative online reviews bring your business down. Instead play it smart, play it cool and welcome any and all reviews that come your way and turn them into an opportunity to make your business shine.

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