How to make a negative review work in your favor

How to Make a Negative Review Work in Your Favor

When 84 percent of Americans say online reviews influence their purchase decisions, a bad review is one too many.

But what if a negative online review could actually help you improve your business? If you could turn a bad review around and make it work for you?  There are ways how to make a negative review work in your favor.

Keep in mind that a poor review — if it’s accurate — might actually expose a legitimate problem with your product or service, giving you an opportunity to fix things before they get worse. If a customer says your burgers are barely a step up from McDonald’s, take a deep breath. Treat this as a business problem that you can solve, not as a personal attack.

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You can also use the situation to improve your business’ reputation. If the complaint is legitimate, take the opportunity to reach out to the reviewer. Simply by responding to negative reviews, you can turn 18 percent — or nearly one in five — detractors into loyal customers, while 67% of those you contact will delete their review or post a positive one, according to a poll by Harris Interactive.  This is one way how to make a negative review work in your favor.

On sites like Google+, you can contact the reviewer directly, either making the exchange public or keeping it between the two of you. You might want to communicate privately, in case things escalate; the last thing you want is for the review to go from bad to worse. Keeping the thread private also lets you offer the reviewer incentives to keep his business. If you were to publicly offer him coupons or complimentary cocktails, people might make a connection between writing bad reviews and getting good deals.

Whether your outreach is private or public, thank your customer for his patronage and feedback. Then, apologize for the poor experience. An apology humanizes the situation and can go far to sweeten sour feelings. Explain that you’ve identified the source of the problem and fixed it, and that you’ll do your best to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Customers appreciate that you’re making changes in response to their feedback, and by addressing their complaints, you just might earn their trust.

After all this, you stand a pretty good chance that the customer will update his negative review with a positive one. He might publicly praise you for going the extra mile. And demonstrating that you value your customers creates a good impression.  This is a valuable way how to make a negative review work in your favor.

Another way to approach customer grievances is to remember how it was done before social media. If a customer told you in person that he thought the steak was overcooked, what would you do about it? Wouldn’t you try to get to the bottom of it and make amends? Why should it be any different just because someone took his complaint online?

If you can turn an unhappy customer into a returning one — and maybe even one who recommends your products or services — it’s well worth the effort. After all, it’s easier (and cheaper) to keep an existing customer than to bring in a new one.

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