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How to Turn a Negative Review into a Positive for Your Business?

October 20, 2016

A negative review doesn’t have to have a negative impact on your business. Find out how you can turn a negative review into a positive with this quick guide.

No business likes receiving a negative review. Those five golden stars are an online currency that we all work hard to maintain. However, no matter how great your business is or how hard you work to please the customer, sometimes, a negative review will blot your perfect landscape.


Other times, the customer can simply be in a bad mood, and a small inconvenience that would have reduced feedback by one star can encourage the grumpy customer to leave a scathing review instead.

Sometimes, the feedback is genuine, there’s a fault with a product or the service that you can change. In this instance it’s important to view the negative review as feedback. This customer is giving you essential information that you can use to improve your business. This is gold dust. It’s a lucrative opportunity that shouldn’t be missed, and you can turn this negative experience into a positive by simply changing your attitude to the feedback.

Adapt Your Attitude

Once you understand how valuable negative feedback is to your business, you can appreciate the customer who left the negative review. Of course, the initial kneejerk reaction is disdain or annoyance towards the reviewer, but in many cases, the customer is actually helping you. If you change your attitude to one of gratitude, this will shine through in all correspondence with the customer, thus cementing the positives into an otherwise negative experience.

Pick it Apart

The next step is to pick apart the feedback. Does the customer have a point? Could you change something, if so what? If you extract the valuable information you can act on it for the good of your business.

Respond in Kind

Your negative reviewer expects an answer. The first nuance to consider is that your reviewer will be angry. They may not be open to reason. They want to blame and they want a solution, they don’t want to waste any more time, in short, they seek compensation, usually above the cost of the original product. Indeed, they should be rewarded for feeding you data you can use, they should be treated with respect and listened to.

Remember Who You’re Dealing With

This reviewer has taken time out to leave a review, albeit negative. This make that person a strong adversary if only you could change their opinion. The best marketing teams have found ways to turn negative reviewers into the best ambassadors for their brands and you can do the same. This is how.

How to Respond to a Negative Review?

In the first instance, you should respond via email if you have those details. Until you know you’ve calmed the situation, it’s a little foolish to respond on a public forum as outside influences can further enrage your customer, leading to a rather damning interaction across social media. Of course, you must acknowledge the customer if they have made contact through social media, but make it clear that you will communicate via email or over the phone.

  1. Listen (Pay Attention): A lot of negative reviews are diffused instantly as soon as the customer believes the brand is listening to their concerns. This can be all it takes to turn a negative review into a positive. Listen to the feedback and empathise. Let the customer know that you understand the inconvenience they’ve experienced and let them know that you too, are human, not just a faceless brand.
  2. Apologise: You should always apologise to your customer, even if you think their negative review is unfounded. You can apologise for taking up their time, you can apologise for the feelings the product invoked in them or you can apologise for not meeting their expectations. At this point, your customer should be calmer, more rational and ready to discuss the review reasonably.
  3. Appreciate: Don’t forget to say thank you to the customer for bringing the problem to your attention. Let them know they’re now an integral part of your business (thus building loyalty) as they are helping to shape your brand going forward.
  4. Award: Most complainers usually expect some type of reward, be it monetary compensation, vouchers or a refund. There are actually professional complainers online who will leave negative reviews in a bid to receive these rewards. It would be detrimental to your reputation to withhold compensation, regardless of the motivation. If the complaint is justified, the reviewer will probably be happy with a full refund, a discount voucher or free postage and packaging. There’s no need to bankrupt your business.
  5. Act: Once you’ve reached an agreement via private email with the customer, you can respond to the review online. Let the general public know the steps you’ve taken to help the customer come to an outcome that’s reasonable. Reassure the public that you’ve acted on the concerns of the customer in order to minimize a repeat of the same mistake. Finish with an invite to all users to ask questions if they still need clarification about your response or the situation that caused the negative review in the first place.

If a negative review is handled with care, it can actually boost a business. As customers we always check the negative reviews of a product first as we believe these to be more genuine. If your response shows that you’ve taken feedback on board and you’re keen for the problem to disappear, it will actually prompt a buyer to purchase the product, as they will feel confident that they won’t have the same experience as the reviewer.

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