Learning Hub | Mindful Marketing

Handle the Haters: 6 Tips to Turn Negative Reviews Into Positive Marketing

May 5, 2017 | Jon Teodoro

You’ve Received a Negative Review

Cheer up! It’s not the end of the world.

Maybe you had an off day. Maybe someone just didn’t like the chicken and chose to get on a soapbox.

No matter what has happened, you can turn those bad Yelp, Facebook, Google and TripAdvisor reviews into positive company marketing.

As a matter of fact, how you respond to bad reviews can be just as important, if not more important, than how you reply to the positive ones.

Don’t shirk away from insults, criticisms and flat-out lies. Handle all reviews like a pro with the following tips.

What to do About Bad Reviews: Six Tips

1. Respond Quickly.

Since other potential customers can see this review, you want them to see your response as quickly as possible, too.

It is a good idea to have a regular workflow, setting aside a certain amount of time to read through and respond to reviews.

Depending on your business and audience engagement, this could be every couple of days or once a week. You can figure out what works best for you.

What is important here is that you look at responding to reviews as an important and integral part of your job.

For best results with difficult or negative comments, take a little time to cool off, think about and frame what you want to say, and reply.

You do want to get a response out there quickly, but you don’t want your response to show any anger or frustration. In short, don’t stoop to the reviewer’s level…keep it cool and professional.

2. Thank the reviewers and respond appropriately.

Yes, thank the reviewers.

No matter how inappropriate or inaccurate the reviews, thank the writers for taking the time to share their opinions.

By doing this, you are thanking them for their time, but not for their thoughts. You are not validating the negative reviews, but you are coming off as calm, cool and collected to any future readers.

After thanking the reviewers, you can move on to addressing what they said. You want to make sure to respond appropriately.

This doesn’t mean you need to roll over, apologize excessively or suggest any sort of compensation or special offer for their troubles.

Instead of jumping right into any sort of PR stunt, analyze the problems that the reviewers experienced, try to learn more about specific incidents and tailor your reply to what actually happened.

3. Be brief.

Don’t be super long-winded in your response to negative reviews. Thank the customers for their thoughts and address each of their pain points efficiently.

If need be, discuss how you are going to remedy any negative experiences, but don’t use this platform to sell your company or talk about yourself. Just get in, be respectful, fix what you need to, clarify what you need to for future readers and get out.

4. Match any compensation or remedy to each specific situation.

Going back a bit to tip numero dos…

If you do feel that the customer’s bad experience deserves more than a response, make sure to tailor your special offer to whatever has happened.

Business owners have turned around negative reviews by offering meals on the house, replacement products with free shipping and free stays in hotels.

You can get creative here. If someone negatively reviews your candles, respond online and send them a basket with an iTunes gift card, bath salts and two free candles. Then, ask them to come back and review again after they’ve enjoyed a relaxing bath on you.

If someone thought your restaurant’s service was awful and left a scathing review, offer your chef’s table and a free bottle of wine on an evening of his/her choice.

Whatever you do here may change the reviewer’s mind, but more importantly it will show how much you care and how confident you are in your products or services.

You want to use this tactic sparingly. The last thing you need is for people to think they can just go out and write a bad review to get free stuff out of you.

Don’t reward negative customers with positive opportunities. Only reward honest, negative reviews with positive solutions.

5. Remember, everyone can see your response.

No matter how you want to respond, take a little time to step away from the computer or phone. Come back to your response and re-read it. Think anything comes off as insincere or rude? Fix it.

Don’t reply out of anger or denial. Everyone can see how you are responding, and it’s important because most people will forgive a negative review, but not a negative response.

Handling reviews well in front of others is likely to increase your business. You may have lost the one customer, but you’ll get 10 who like how you handle yourself in return.

6. Learn from the situation.

Whatever happens, learn from it. Here are some of the top things we’ve learned from dealing with negative reviews:

  • It can be hard to take criticism, but you must in order to be successful.
  • Comments are a good way to learn about staff and activities that go on when you aren’t monitoring.
  • Some reviews will be bullsh*t. Find a professional, but not passive, way to reply to these.
  • When negative reviews are handled professionally, swiftly and efficiently, your reputation and business will benefit.
  • Everyone has off days so you need to take some reviews with a grain of salt, digest them and move on.
  • You will survive.

Examples of Successful Responses

Check out some of the ways that business owners have successfully responded to negative reviews with these great examples.

What are some creative ways that you have handled reviews in the past? Please share them with us below!