Risky Business

There’s nothing that undermines your credibility like a bad review. But a bad review isn’t always a bad thing.

It’s an opportunity to assess your own dealing with customers and think: am I really doing the best by them? Service performance can be improved by using complaints as a driver for change.

It’s also shown that negative reviews can increase sales. It’s okay, you’re not reading that incorrectly. Marketing research shows that reading negative reviews can make customers feel as though they’ve ‘done their research’ and actually push them towards making a purchase decision. The odd negative review also bolsters the credibility of your positive reviews. No one likes a tall poppy: a bad review is an opportunity to show your customers that you’re not perfect, but you are professional, reliable, and awesome at doing what you do.

The worst thing you can do is ignore an online review. It doesn’t matter if it’s a legitimate complaint or a crazed customer: don’t ignore it. It won’t go away. Here’s how to turn those bad reviews into sales performance improvers.

1. Establish a Game Plan

Have you thought about how to respond? Businesses of all shapes and sizes can benefit from establishing a complaints management system and educating staff about its stages. It doesn’t have to be a tome: a few key points for customer engagement are all you need. 

2. Apologise and Ask for Suggestions

An old employer of mine once told me, ‘The customer is not always right, but the customer always has a right to an opinion’. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re right or wrong. Address legitimate complaints with an apology and go one step better by asking what you can do to resolve the situation. 

3. Study the Master Responders

There’s no shame in asking for help. Search around for negative reviews and study the responses of business owners. Look at the language in the below example. The owner is apologetic, diplomatic, and overall professional. We’re all human: sometimes we just need reminding. 


4. Consistency is Key

The internet never sleeps. Bad reviews can crop up at any time and on any website. Conduct regular social media checks and Google yourself to troll for negative reviews in the ranks. You won’t catch everyone, but you’ll gain some important insights about how your service resonates with customers, as well as inspiration for improvements. In addition, showing customers that you’re engaged and responsive makes them feel as though you care.

5. I’ll Say It Again. Don’t Ignore It.

It doesn’t matter how petty or aggressive the complaint seems: it’s always worse to ignore it. The best way to address a negative review is at the source. Address the online conversation calmly and professionally: remember, it’s not about your own pride, it’s about showing your customers that you’re actually pretty great.