Negative Customer Reviews Happen—Embrace Them!

Customer reviews play a big part in how people view your business nowadays. So, you should do anything you can to harness the feedback.

Photo: Amanda Soderlund, Analyst at Clutch; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Amanda Soderlund, Analyst at Clutch; Source: Courtesy Photo

In a study showcasing how consumers view online reviews, 72 percent of respondents trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations and 52 percent said that positive online reviews make them more likely to patronize a local business.

Over the years, online review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Angie’s List have become household names because so many people turn to the advice from these communities on anything from restaurants to plumbers.

However, the power of customer reviews is not solely applicable to consumers. A recent study found that buyers in the B2B marketplace also look to client reviews as a trustworthy source for preliminary research. Not only are buyers searching for reviews on various service providers; they are also more likely to show interest in companies that have more client reviews.

While building up good reviews definitely helps drive business in both the B2C and B2B space, what happens when your business gets a negative review?


Handle Negative Reviews

If you look around at any site that allows customers to review a business, its products, or services then you are going to find some negative reviews. They happen from time to time and there are ways to deal with them that can actually help your business. There are also ways to deal with negative reviews that can hurt your business. For example, when you receive a negative review, steer clear of these 3 actions:


  1. Don’t ignore the negative review.

    One of the worst ways to deal with a negative review is to not respond to the situation. Ignoring a customer’s complaint can lead to unaddressed problems with your business. If the same complaints arise, potential buyers will see a trend in your company’s products or services. Ignoring negative reviews can signal that your company is not willing to fix problems that develop.

  2. Never attempt to hide the negative review.

    Even worse than ignoring a review is attempting to get a negative review taken down from a site. This is a dangerous route to take. Not only will the dissatisfied customer recognize the attempt to negate the review, the same customer will probably find any site they can to continually publish a negative review about your company.

  3. Try not to react in a negative or malicious manner.

    You can react like the owners of Amy’s Baking Company who used review sites to lash out at customers who didn’t leave favorable comments. Another route to take would be to sue customers who leave negative reviews like Dietz Development did after a customer accused them of not finishing the work and stealing jewelry. However neither route is one you want to take.

Most of the time, a negative review isn’t personal. Something happened to go wrong with a particular customer’s experience that compelled them to let others know about it. When businesses respond like the owners of Amy’s Baking Company and Deitz Development, it is often because they are taking these reviews personally and feel as if they need to defend themselves in order to protect their business.

Similarly, when businesses ignore or try to hide a review they are hoping that the review will disappear and not affect their business. But, these approaches usually fail; there are other ways to deal with the occasional negative review.


Make Lemonade

When you see a negative review of your business you are presented with a great opportunity– to make your business better. In the age of big data, companies pay a great deal of money to find out how customers view them and their products and services. That is how you should look at review sites.

Take the positive reviews as affirmations of what you are doing right and use the negative reviews as a way to improve. Take this feedback and correct what went wrong, but let the customer know that you are making an effort to fix things.

You see: there is another way you can actually benefit from a negative review and that is by responding to the customer’s concerns right away. Let the customer, and anyone else who reads that review, see how you make an effort to make things right.

According to a Harris survey , when a company responds to a negative review in a timely manner 33 percent of people who left a negative review turned around and posted a positive review, and 34 percent deleted the original negative review.

Now, you may not make that particular customer happy with your response, and they may never come back, but other people will see that you responded quickly and that you made an effort to address the problem.


Accentuate the Positive

Research shows that the occasional review with a low rating doesn’t hurt a company’s reputation and buyers don’t punish a business for a single, unflattering review. What customers do look for is that a business has an overall positive rating. This is likely because the people who use review sites understand that just about every business has a negative review sprinkled in here and there.

To combat infrequent reviews that are unflattering, make sure that you make an effort to increase the number of positive reviews to tip the scales in favor of a more positive rating. Not only will this help alleviate concerns that a negative review might stir up, but it will also help increase the number of overall reviews your company receives; and that will help increase visibility with prospective customers.


Customer reviews play a big part in how people view your business nowadays. So, you should do anything you can to harness the feedback from review sites and encourage customers to share their experiences with others.

Yes, it will result in a negative review from time to time but, if you have learned anything from this article, those negative reviews give you the ability to show others the level of customer service they can expect from you and the chance to turn a first time customer into a loyal customer.


This article has been edited and condensed.

Amanda Soderlund is an Analyst at Clutch, a Washington, DC-based research firm that identifies top services and software firms that deliver results for their clients. She is a part of the marketing team at Clutch that provides relevant and useful research for businesses and consumers looking to procure IT services and software. Amanda frequently writes on topics of web design, digital marketing, and small business. Connect with @clutch_co on Twitter.


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