How to handle negative reviews

Satisfied prospects, customers and guests often see no reason to evaluate your company positively. They are happy with it and may tell their family and friends about it, but not necessarily the online community. This differs a lot from someone who was unhappy with the service or product: on review platforms every reason for dissatisfaction is presented in detail. Whether true or not, any negative review will cause harm. Before buying a product, booking a hotel and placing an order, most potential customers research the Internet – and hardly any company is not rated negatively here and there. So read this article to find out what to do about bad ratings and how to deal professionally with negative reviews.

Try to see the positive

Of course, everybody would love to have 5-star ratings only. But that´s just not going to happen. The bright side is, your webpage will appear much more trustworthy and authentic if not only positive reviews will be found. It proves that not only your friends and family rate the products but real customers do too. Research conducted by the Journal of Marketing Research even found out, that negative reviews are valued often more than positive reviews. They are considered to be more informative, and therefore more valuable, as they contain information that product descriptions might not cover. Furthermore, if the reviewer is polite, negative reviews can even boost your sales according to a research study in the Journal of Consumer Research. The research team examined how phrases like “I´ll be honest…” and “I don´t want to be mean, but…” influenced the reader´s perception of a product. Any time the reviewers used ways to soften the arrival of bad news and warned the reader of incoming negative information, the negative review had no negative impact on sales. In fact, the study showed that negative but polite reviews could improve the customer´s view on product and brand.

Respond quickly

The first step towards dealing professionally with negative ratings is to learn about them at all. In addition to Facebook and Google My Business (Maps / Places), there are numerous other ways to give online ratings. Think about which platforms are relevant for your company and your products and register there if possible. Get notified automatically by e-mail each time you receive a review, then you won’t miss any criticism – at least as far as the most important portals are concerned. Don’t limit yourself to specific platforms, but check from time to time which results from Google displays for “Your company name ratings”. To know immediately when you are rated online, we strongly recommend a Google Alert for your company name and your most important products (especially proper names). So you can react promptly to negative, but also positive reviews. Responsiveness aids resolution and proofs good customer service to everyone else.

Respond with confidence

Important when answering comments in rating portals: Take your time and check the accusations in advance. Ask internally in your team how the complaint came about and whether the customer has already contacted you with his request. With a ready-made answer that does not explicitly deal with the customer’s complaint, the opposite is often achieved and the rejection is reinforced even more. The first reaction to a negative review should always be an acknowledgement of your mistake- even if it does not feel like you´ve made one- and an apology. Potential visitors to your site will first identify with other customers and not with you, so don´t try to convince them that you´re right and the others wrong. Always show sympathy. A lack of esteem has a deterrent effect on potential customers, which is why the magic word for the whole answer is empathy. For each (applicable) problem, there are certain steps already taken against it. Simply explain briefly and concisely how the situation will be improved or how it is to be improved in the near future. This signals that the criticism has been received and is having an effect.

Learn from the feedback

In the past, dissatisfied customers may not even bother to share their comments: they simply criticized the business by word of mouth or stopped coming to it. As the owner, you could never really know what went wrong disgusting the customers. So be grateful to finally know what bothers them! In most cases, customers don´t give negative feedback to give you a bad day, but because they believe the problem is something you can fix. And up to 70% of customers who complain give you another chance when their concerns are resolved. So don´t be annoyed by negative reviews, see their potential for your business and use it!


All in all, stay calm after you received a negative review and look on the bright side, respond quickly and confident and use the feedback to improve your products. The negative reviews might even boost your product sales. And if you want to learn more about how online reviews can help your business grow, go check out our Revi. blog article and read about why online reviews are the best thing that happened to small businesses.


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