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How to Make a Negative Review a Positive Experience

by Holly Cordner  |  
October 22, 2014
  |  7,420 views

In this article, you'll learn . . .

  • How to monitor the online conversations happening around your brand
  • Why you need some negative reviews to get more customers
  • Eight keys for responding to negative reviews in the right way

Your first instinct on seeing a negative online review may be to immediately and vigorously defend your business. After all, you work hard to make sure everyone—from customers to employees—has a great experience. After all, 80% of customers have changed their mind about a purchase after reading negative reviews, according to a survey conducted by Cone Communications.

Unfortunately, making an overly defensive response is usually the wrong move. Potential customers may read your passion as hostility, and you could end up losing more customers than you save.

So, what is the right way to handle this situation?

First, realize that all hope is not lost. Second, make a plan for responding. Third, be consistent in your approach.

Monitor your online presence


To react to what customers are saying about you, you first need to find what they're saying and where they're saying it. The best place to start is by claiming all listings of your business on review sites like Yelp, Google+, and Urbanspoon.

In addition to being able to review and respond to reviews, you can add or correct important information, including business hours, address, phone number, menus, prices, and photos. Some sites also allow you to offer special deals to people who check in at your business or who leave a review.

You should also set up and interact with social accounts for your business. Doing so will allow you to talk to customers directly and head off problems before they start. Think about it: If your customers are going to be talking sharing the good and the bad of your business on social media with or without your presence, wouldn't you rather know about it and be involved?


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Holly Cordner is a marketing manager in Salt Lake City. She writes for CityGro, which helps businesses of all sizes connect with their customers. Her first love is technology; tofu is a close second.

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  • by Vinay Bhagat, CEO TrustRadius Wed Oct 22, 2014 via web

    Holly - what a great article. On a related note, TripAdvisor has done quantitative research that demonstrates that hotels that actively engage by commenting on their reviews improve shopper (in their case traveler) sentiment/ perception about them.

    I'd also like to add that engaging with reviewers/ reviews should not just be considered a best-practice for B2C. I'm CEO of a B2B insights sharing site called TrustRadius - we cover business software. Some vendors have been terrific at engaging with reviewers and writing quality, constructive responses, and most importantly acknowledging feedback where it's due. They've also used comments as a way to demonstrate that they care, and are working to address needs. I will say however, that there are still many vendors who are not actively engaged, and I think it's a huge missed opportunity.

    Vinay Bhagat
    CEO, TrustRadius
    @vinaybhagat

  • by Daniel Honigman Thu Oct 23, 2014 via web

    Vinay raises several good points: responding to negative (and even positive) comments are not just a good way to show customers that you care, but it's a best practice for the B2B WOM space as well. However,

    that's only one part of the equation. Companies must have people and processes in place to act on + fix complaints quickly and effectively. If the same problem keeps popping up, and nothing is done about it, then you're not really addressing the core issue; you're just triaging complaints.

    As part of my current role at G2 Crowd, as well as in previous roles in the news business, the ad agency world and on the client side, I've actively monitored not only what people say about my brand, but what people say about competitors as well.

    There was a book a few years back called, "A Complaint is a Gift." The authors stated, every complaint presents not only an opportunity to learn from one's mistakes, but an opportunity to win over potential customers as well. I highly recommend this book for anyone who might have to address negative reviews as part of their business.

  • by Elizabeth Victor Wed Oct 29, 2014 via web

    Great post, Holly. I have written similar posts on the same topic! Monitoring your online presence religiously will allow you to respond quickly to negative (and positive) reviews, which is imperative. There are tools available that do just that. It is also important to use PR monitoring on other platforms, such as radio, news, etc- iSentia.com offers tools to monitor all levels of media. Thanks for the post!

  • by Avp Libi Tue Jul 10, 2018 via web

    Visitor's negative review doesn't affect the quality topics.Even if we made mistakes then apologize sincerely for that.Usually negative comment is correcting mistakes or comment writers have some other valid points and try to get it from the comment writer.

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