Here’s how to use reviews—both negative and positive—as a marketing tool that benefits your business.
4 reasons to showcase your online reviews
Some people don’t want to share positive reviews precisely because it does seem like bragging. So let’s look at why you should always share your reviews.
Reason #1 – Reviews are like content you don’t have to create—or pay someone else to create! As a rule, they’re filled with relevant keywords and, if you’re a brick-and-mortar business, are focused on the local area. That’s a good thing!
Reason #2 – When customers talk about your brand online, you gain a unique type of exposure. Social proof—when prospective customers buy because they see others have—is a powerful marketing tool.
Reason #3 – Yes, the internet is forever. So when you post a review on your website, link to the original poster to reinforce the message that you’re trustworthy and only sharing real reviews. But occasionally users and their digital footprint do disappear. So if you’ve posted the text of a customer’s review on your site, and that review is removed the original site for whatever reason, you still have the information.
Reason #4 – Seeing what others have written encourages more customers to write reviews. And when you have more reviews, you organically raise the visibility of your business. Your business is perceived as well-established and profitable. As a result, you get more customers and higher profits.
Why do you need negative and positive reviews?
Obviously every business wants as many five-star reviews as possible. When you’re ordering a product online, visiting a new restaurant or a shop for the first time, what’s the first thing you do? You check the business’s reviews.
If you read too many negative reviews, or see nasty responses from the business, you feel less confident in purchasing from that company. And you move on.
And that’s why sharing negative reviews probably goes against your instincts. But you shouldn’t be afraid! Because if handled properly, negative reviews can actually help your business. Showing customers that you respond to and act on negative reviews is actually one of the best ways to impress your target audience and increase your brand awareness.
So if you’ve been focused on hiding or pretending your negative reviews don’t exist, stop!
The benefits of negative reviews
There are some benefits that come from negative reviews that you can’t get anywhere else.
Benefit #1 – Negative reviews give other customers an idea of the worst-case scenario. Negative reviews are highly valuable to customers who want a clear understanding of what can go wrong. Then they can make an informed decision about how much that matters to them.
Benefit #2 – No matter how amazing your customer service is, not every customer will be satisfied every time. For some shoppers, too many good reviews about one company seem fake. So when they see a few negative reviews, they feel the business is more reliable and trustworthy.
Benefit #3 – Negative feedback is an excellent opportunity to improve your business. All feedback is valuable, but negative feedback alerts you to potential problems. You’re getting a free piece of valuable information you can use to make a change before an even greater issue arises.
Benefit #4 – Negative reviews show your human side. No one is perfect; everyone has made a mistake along the way. But it’s easy to forget that a business is made up of people. By admitting that something went wrong and attempting a fix, you connect with customers as a human—not just a faceless business.
Responding to negative reviews
The way businesses respond to negative reviews tells their customers a lot. So what should you do if you receive a negative customer review?
Don’t panic! Stop, and evaluate the feedback internally. Customers have a lot of power online. So don’t respond until you’ve investigated the incident that resulted in the negative review. Because if you provide an answer to a negative customer review without thinking, you may make the situation worse. So before you respond, look into what happened, and create a game plan to solve the problem.
Do work as quickly as possible to develop an efficient response that will work positively for your business. Then, respond to the review publicly. Acknowledging that you or your company made a mistake shows your current customers and your target audience that you’re paying attention, that you care about them and that you’re not afraid to take responsibility when there’s a problem.
Don’t be afraid to tell your side of the story. Not every customer is pleasant, and sometimes the situation requires further explanation. Without making excuses or being accusatory, you can communicate additional details. Other customers can make an informed decision for themselves about what happened.
Do offer a solution. The phrase “we apologize for the inconvenience” is more annoying than helpful. Apologizing is a good step but not enough to rectify the situation. Your goal is to offer a solution that makes the customer happy and raises the confidence of potential customers that they’ll have a positive experience with you even if something goes wrong.
Too many negative reviews
If you have more negative than positive reviews, you know something is very wrong in your business. Take action to correct the issue—whether it’s a bad employee or product—as quickly as possible.
You can avoid too many negative reviews in the first place by asking your customers to let you know the moment their experience is unsatisfactory. Have a plan in place to resolve customer service issues on the spot.
Businesses try to avoid negative reviews, and usually that makes sense. But sharing only positive comments can hurt your brand reputation. Your reaction to negative reviews can build trust and create a healthy balance in your online brand persona.