Dealing With Bad Online Reviews? 5 Tips to Turn Those Into Strategic Advantages
You firmly believe that the products you sell are of high quality. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be banking your financial success on them. But sometimes, the products we sell have certain flaws that go unnoticed, or perhaps another department in your company is doing something to sour the customer experience.
This will inevitably lead to a dreaded one-star review. Bad reviews aren’t as uncommon as you might think, and while it can be a serious blow to the ego, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, bad reviews can be a blessing in disguise. You can take a bad review and turn it into a golden opportunity for your entire company.
But how can bad reviews actually be good? Aren’t they potentially detrimental to acquiring new customers? What can you do to leverage bad reviews and turn them into strategic advantages?
In this article, we’re going through the basics of bad reviews, helping you understand how to take this negative and spin it into a positive with five helpful tips. Let’s start with some basic information.
Why are online reviews so important?
You might think that the purpose of this article is to make you believe that online customer reviews aren’t a big deal.
That’s not the case whatsoever.
In fact, online reviews are critical to your continued success. Why is that? Because people read them and they trust them. If these reviews erode their trust in you, they’re not going to buy from you.
A massive nine out of every ten consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. On top of that, 76% of modern consumers trust what’s reported in online reviews more than personal recommendations from friends and family members.
That means even if their best friend is telling them your product is life-changing, a series of bad reviews could be enough to dissuade them from purchasing. And there are a lot of review sites out there where people can knock what you’re selling. Facebook, Yelp, and Google are the most popular and trusted, but they’re far from the only platforms out there, as showcased in the image below.
Everyone gets bad reviews. When you sell enough products, eventually, you’re going to come across someone who has a less-than-ideal experience. They’re going to rate you badly, and that’s something that you’re going to have to live with.
There’s no sense in falling apart at the first sign of a negative review. Instead, you can take those bad reviews and use them to improve your company. There are some obvious ways to go about this, but there are a few tactics you can employ that you might not have thought of.
5 tips to turn bad reviews into strategic advantages
Below, we’ve outlined five actions that you could take to leverage the bad reviews your company gets and expertly spin them into positives that fuel your growth.
1. Respond publicly
You can turn negative reviews into positive reviews by responding to them publicly. If you have a bad review, where a customer is spewing hate at your brand and talking about every way that you failed them, respond to that review and address the situation in a public forum.
This doesn’t mean you should get defensive and tell the disgruntled customer why they’re wrong. That’s probably the worst thing you could do and would only serve to make an already bad situation so much worse.
Your reply should be apologetic. Even if you don’t feel that you’re at fault, you should try to apologize for the experience and express a desire to see the situation resolved. It might even be a good idea to say something about how you’ll address issues like these in the future.
Here’s an example of a company responding to a review left by a disgruntled former employee. HubSpot showed a lot of class in responding to a particularly negative review with kindness, empathy, and an apologetic attitude.
All you see here is a simple apology. HubSpot doesn’t blame the employee or try to discredit them. This says to a reader that HubSpot has some humility and is willing to own up to mistakes.
We all understand mistakes. Everyone makes them. Sometimes, showing a little humanity can go a long way toward breaking the “cold evil corporation” stereotype. "The same goes for reviews where clients didn't specify the reason behind their rating - embrace the human approach and try to get to the bottom of it. Learn how to respond to a 1-star review without comments and collect information from the client. It's often enough for the client to remove their review just by seeing that you showed initiative to help fix the issue.
2. Offer solutions to customer issues
Another way that you could take our last tip and expand upon it would be to offer solutions to the customer that might resolve their issue.
Here’s a quality example from a Honda dealership that opened the line of communication to a disgruntled customer.
Honda of Thousand Oaks responds to Heather’s issue by asking her to call the dealership. The company representative apologizes and then expresses a desire to make the situation right. They then offer a phone number and express a desire to earn back her business by working with her to resolve the problem.
Not only can this situation now be resolved if the disgruntled customer calls back, but potential customers can see the dealership's attempt to resolve the issue in a public forum. That goes a long way toward establishing trust in a brand and showing that this company actually cares about its customers and the impression it leaves on them.
What’s more, take a look at the date of the initial review and the company’s response. They’re only one day apart. That’s also a deeply positive aspect of this example. Honda didn’t let this review sit around for too long. As soon as they saw it, they responded to get out in front of the situation and control the narrative.
If you do something like this and manage to help the customer, it doesn’t hurt to ask them to update their review.
3. Showcase negative reviews
While your first reaction might be to hide your negative reviews and try to draw attention away from them, we’re telling you to do the opposite. When customers find negative reviews of a company, it’s almost like a “gotcha” moment for them. They’re finding something they believe you were trying to keep out of the public view.
That’s why you should gather some negative reviews that you were able to turn around using our second tip above. Show these reviews in a blog post and talk about what you as a company did to address the issues raised and help preserve the customer experience.
You could even show a few reviews where the customer didn’t respond to your outreach. In this situation, point out what you learned from the review and how you changed your company to address the issues and create a better experience for everyone.
4. Use negative reviews to determine business issues
Negative feedback can be a critical window into the customer experience. Your customers will encounter issues with products that you never expected. However, if they’re silent about it and just stop doing business with you out of the blue, you will never find out what happened.
Negative reviews can point out areas where your company is lacking. Let’s say a customer service interaction really upset someone, and they left you a poor review on Google. That’s an issue that needs to be addressed right away.
Customer service is a hugely important aspect of any business. Hence, hiring a customer service virtual assistant can help bloom your business and keep you away from negative reviews. A third of consumers said they’d switch companies after one bad customer service experience.
Suppose your reviews show that you have a customer service issue. In that case, you can hop onto an educational platform like StuDocu, Course Hero, or StudyStack to access online study materials on customer service and other business topics. You’ll then be able to approach these uncovered issues in an informed manner.
5. Use bad reviews in employee training
As we just explored, negative reviews paint a picture of what your customers really don’t want. Not only can you use those opinions to make meaningful changes within your organization, but you can also show those reviews to new employees as part of their training.
It’s as important to train employees on what customers don’t want as it is to train them on what they do want. Provide them with several examples of things customers have complained about in the past, and then teach them how to avoid those mistakes.
An important part of customer service jobs is being able to handle complaints from customers and resolving them before they turn into a negative review.
By analyzing negative reviews and training your employees to diffuse the situation, similar reviews will be avoided in the future and you will improve customer retention.
This strengthens the customer experience by arming new employees with knowledge.
No one likes to see a negative review, but it’s not the end of the world. On the contrary, negative reviews can create a window of opportunity, providing you with strategic advantages that can improve your business going forward.
By responding to reviews publicly, offering solutions to customers, showcasing negative reviews, using them to discover issues, and leveraging them through new employee training programs, you can turn a negative into a positive, improve your company, and give future customers a five-star experience.