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What To Do With A Bad Review

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We get it – you put your heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears into your business. That one negative review is a tiny heartbreak that ruins your day. It makes you want to shout to the universe how that feedback is false and unfair. Bad reviews may seem like stains on your brand’s reputation, but we promise one or two bad reviews aren’t as awful as they seem.

Yes – reviews are important. They are how potential customers research your company and help determine whether to commit, purchase, or donate. Word-of-mouth and referral marketing are constantly the strongest forms of promotion, and these review platforms are essentially word-of-mouth marketing between strangers.

  • 91% of people regularly read online reviews
  • 84% of people trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends.

It’s important to understand negative feedback can be helpful for everyone. Yelp isn’t protected from negative reviews, and they practically invented them. When there is legitimate shadiness involved in business activities, they need to be addressed publicly. If you fall in this category, take that negative feedback seriously and map out steps to publicly fix the issues.

If you don’t fall into the shady category, consider a few things before drafting your response rant to an unsatisfied customer:

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It happens to everyone

We all have off-days. We spill coffee into laps, drop the ball on communication or have a customer catch us in a bad mood. To err is human, and this will inevitably be reflected in our company’s reviews. Many complaints are surrounding issues of which your company couldn’t possibly take the blame, such as weather-related issues or disregard to stated company policy.

If your brand received a neutral review for no justifiable reason, you aren’t in terrible company. The best product or service on the planet has less-than-perfect evaluations. Nobody is safe from bad reviews so customers have come expect them.

A Bad review can be good news – it humanizes your company 

Potential customers don’t trust five-star reviews. Five-star reviews seem inauthentic and as if the company has cheated the system. So if a vast majority of your assessments are rave reviews, that neutral rating improved the authenticity of your brand. Studies show the ideal star rating is between a 4.2 and 4.5-star rating, which makes your goal rating much more attainable!

It presents the opportunity to “go high” 

Showcase your bright and shiny attitude in your reaction to negative reviews. When a critic goes low – you go high. It is a unique situation in which you can talk one on one with an individual who believes they received less-than-ok service. Use this moment to express your brand values in a public arena and find solutions to change the reviewers perspective. Offer a discount or free product or service and you may turn that unhappy customer into a loyal supporter.

Take the time to understand and work with an unhappy customer, and reasonable people will work with you. They can edit the assessment to account for your reaction to their grievances. These commentaries prove to be the strongest proof of a company’s character and will impress your future customers.

It offers interesting marketing opportunities

Snowbird, a Utah-based ski resort, ran an iconic ad campaign where they found negative reviews from individuals who considered the mountain ‘too advanced.’ The ski resort realized these bad reviews promoted the best parts of their product. The campaign resulted in large amounts of engagement and shares from avid skiers poking fun at these assessments.

Using criticisms for good is not an unattainable strategy; if the review is coming from left field, use this as an opportunity to show people the unique value you bring to everyone (minus this lonely critic).

Client example:

One of our university housing clients received a negative review from a student in regards to their drug/alcohol policy. The university responded to the comment by reiterating and explaining the importance behind the rules. Because of that response, parents later said that review was one of the reasons they were interested in having their children live in the facility.

Breathe a sigh of relief: Statistics show customers listen more to volume over star ratings

The best thing to do for your online reputation? Boost your reviews altogether. Studies show people prioritize the number of reviews over star rating. This goes hand-in-hand with not trusting five-star ratings: customers will defer to the company that has grown a strong review base organically. Stop focusing on the star rating of the assessments, and focus on getting a maximum amount of your customers to leave honest commentaries. If you only have a handful of evaluations, the negative scrutiny can hurt. But if you are steadily growing your review amounts, complaints will be buried and have less of an effect on your overall rep.

It’s a chance to learn and improve.

Negative reviews are easy to take personally – you are the only person that knows how hard you work for your company.  Now is not the time to immediately assume nothing is wrong with your product/service. Take this moment as an opportunity to step back and look at the current status of your company from a distance. Can you see the reason behind the complaint? As a fan of agile marketing tactics, we are happy to embrace and analyze fails. Understand the mistake, test out solutions, and repeat the successes.  

Ready to boost your online reputation? Reach out to us!

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