How to Cope When Your Small Business Gets a Negative Review

While it might seem like a death knell at the time, there is life after a cutting review. But only if you follow the right steps...

How to Cope When Your Small Business Gets a Negative Review

It’s no secret that reviews are valuable to businesses; from small businesses to huge corporations, they are recognised worldwide as playing a vital role in the buying decision process. The reassurance of a good review helps to snowball one customer into ten – or a hundred into a thousand. It’s the age-old principle of word of mouth on a global scale, and it’s what your prospective customers will rely on to help them step through your doors, or hit pay on that online basket.

But the benefits extend far beyond generating sales; having dialogue with genuine customers means that businesses get an insight into their market, first hand. This leads to a far better understanding of demand, where improvements can be made and where the company is getting it spot on.

You shouldn’t be afraid of what’s out there

For your small businesses though, opening yourself and your life’s labours to potential criticism might be a scary thought. With horror stories of reputations ruined by fake reviews, it can be tempting to avoid collecting feedback altogether.

Don’t be put off. Fake reviews are not a problem if you’re only inviting your actual customers to feed back, and real and genuine customer feedback is invaluable. Whether good or bad, they are the opinions that you most need to know about because your customers are indeed, your most important asset.

Responding to any negative feedback, and resolving the issues can actually translate to growth & business improvements. No company gets it right every time, but it’s important to understand how to handle a negative review, in order to save yourself stress, worry and heartache. In the long run, you can discover the silver lining, even where the stars are lacking.

Here’s some tips on how to deal with negative feedback:

1. Respond promptly

A quick reply shows that you take feedback seriously, and it’s not something that is left to the back of the pile. Demonstrate that you want to address the issue in a timely manner, and find a solution to their issue. It will also prove to customers who see that you have replied to bad reviews that you are listening to them; and taking them seriously which most customers will respect.

2. Thank them for their review

You may not agree with their points, but it’s important to thank every reviewer. It shows that feedback is important to you – and that you plan to use it to improve your business and customer experiences in the future.

3. Be public

Responding publically to a negative review shows you have nothing to hide. The reviewer and, other potential customers, will be party to the approach you take, and will see the customer service that you offer when things don’t go to plan.

4. Remain polite and professional

However undeserved you feel a negative review is, you are representing your brand in your response. Being polite can help defuse a negative situation and it may be what the customer has been waiting to hear. Your apology could actually help change their opinion on your service and might increase the chance of them shopping with you again.

5. Follow up

Allow customers to respond to your points, and reply to any further comments and feedback with the steps you have taken to rectify any quibbles. As touched on previously, this can actually transform a negative situation around into a positive one, as you have the chance to correct any issues and resolve the problem.

Feedback is invaluable

Offering customers the chance to review your business – and the results that come of it – can completely change the way you think about everything from the staff you employ, to the products you stock. Genuine customer feedback has the power to reaffirm your decisions – or to make you reconsider them.

A great review can be used as a testimonial on your website and social pages. A negative one is an opportunity to learn and improve. Collecting customer reviews should be seen as an essential tool to your business. Do not brush the bad reviews under the carpet, make sure you read and try to understand where the customer is coming from, even if you do disagree. Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes can help you spot any cracks in your business before they become a major problem.

Fake reviews

Fake reviews are becoming increasingly common online – some businesses are motivated by owners desperate to boost their rankings and sales, while others are the brainchild of less moral competitors who are prepared to break the rules in order to knock a business down a peg or two. However, many review sites are trying to crack down on these ‘reviews’ so do not let this deter you.

The savvy business owner knows that genuine reviews are a fantastic source of insight, and there’s no need to fear the occasional negative review. Make sure you collect reviews through a platform that only invites genuine customers to leave their feedback, and you’ll benefit from a powerful source of unmatched business insight.

Andrew Mabbutt is CEO at global ratings and review site,

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