What You Can Learn From Negative Online Reviews
A bad review can feel like a punch to the gut. Many businesses fear negative reviews, taking the approach, “If I don’t see it, it never happened.” But by ignoring them, you miss out on the discovery that—after the initial impact of the blow—negative reviews are surprisingly easy to deal with. And can actually have a positive effect on your business.
Negative Reviews Can Actually Be A Good Thing
Here’s a helpful remember from our friends at Yotpo, “We don’t live in a world of 5-star experiences, so accept that not all reviews are going to be 5-star.” You’re going to have that inevitable 1-star review and that can be a very good thing. Yep, you read that right: negative reviews can actually help your business. Seems counterintuitive? The reality is that negative reviews help establish and build trust and authenticity in your brand.
Bad Reviews Can Improve Your Brand
Here are a few of the ways negative reviews can be helpful for your brand:
1. They alert you to problems you were unaware of—and now, you can fix them. One of the biggest challenges of the digital marketplace is providing customers with a realistic idea of what the product is actually like, you know, in real life. When expectations aren’t fulfilled, disappointment is the inevitable result.
Negative reviews give us the opportunity to understand what’s not working, either with the product or with the customer experience, and give us insight into how we can go about fixing or resolving those issues.
2. They provide an opportunity to improve brand sentiment. While listening to your customers’ online reviews provides insight into how you can improve your processes or products, responding to the reviews lets your customers know just how much you care. Sure, the solutions to the problem in question might not be implemented until some yet-to-be-determined date in the future, but by crafting a thoughtful and helpful response today, you help manage customer perceptions of your brand right now.
Online reviews give you the opportunity to immediately shift a view of your company from negative to overwhelmingly positive. Through your response, a customer that was a potential lost opportunity can become a brand ambassador.
3. They yield a boost in search engine optimization (SEO), increasing brand visibility and perceptions of legitimacy. The internet is an algorithm and numbers game, after all. And bad reviews create buzz. As P.T. Barnum is reputed to have said, “There's no such thing as bad publicity.” Though we’d all prefer to have positive attention focused on our brand, negative publicity still increases product awareness and puts you in the forefront of the consumer's mind.
4. They inspire fun content marketing and advertising ideas. Customer complaints provide great insight into what might be a hit as far as marketing content. A fun example of this is Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort in Utah. When Greg from Los Angeles gave them a “dreaded” one-star review, complaining about their tough ski courses, the company used it in an ad.
What he wrote: "I’ve heard Snowbird is a tough mountain, but this is ridiculous. It felt like every trail was a steep chute littered with tree wells. How is anyone supposed to ride in that? Not fun.”
The team at Snowbird was able to find humor in the fact that the skiers of their target market would see their steep terrain and advanced runs as a huge advantage.
Handle Bad Reviews With Honesty And Learn From Your Mistakes
There are businesses that try and hide any and all negative feedback online: publishing the good reviews, hiding or deleting the detractors. But if a brand’s image seems too squeaky clean, and when all the reviews are overwhelmingly positive, potential customers start to think you're hiding something. After all, they’re more than familiar with the saying, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
The best companies learn from their mistakes and are honest about them. By displaying all your reviews—the good, the neutral, and the ugly—your brand will maintain transparency, increase perceptions of authenticity, and build customer trust.
Want help managing your business or brand’s online reputation?
We can help! Reputation Studio is an Enterprise Online Reputation Management (ORM) platform that consolidates customer reviews into one dashboard, automates the routing of reviews to teams, posts responses in real-time, and applies AI to provide actionable insights and track the sentiment and intent.