How to Look Beyond the Negative Reviews

Imagine pouring your heart and soul into your company, only to receive a two-star Yelp rating. Ouch.

No business owner likes getting negative reviews. They can feel like a sting to the owner’s ego and a ding to the company’s reputation. However, it’s important to not take poor reviews personally. Instead use negative feedback to improve your brand and build credibility.

Negative Reviews Build Credibility

All publicity is good publicity. Bad reviews aren’t necessarily all bad because they help build credibility.

Consider, one of the first stores to allow customers to post both positive and negative product reviews. When a company only has good reviews, consumers grow suspicious, often wondering if the reviews posted are fake. A bad review makes a company appear more authentic; it shows there are consumers out there with differing opinions.

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They Provide Valuable Feedback

Bad reviews provide the opportunity to engage with consumers and gather valuable audience insight. When a customer shines a light on a problem, you can rectify that weakness immediately. And the payoff can be great, as restaurateur Andrew Gruel recently learned.

Gruel’s new restaurant — Slapfish — unfortunately got hit with dozens of one-star reviews. Knowing that star reviews can permanently tarnish a reputation, Gruel reacted quickly to remedy the situation. He looked for the shard of truth in every bad review (e.g. high prices and small portions) and adjusted his menu. Soon negative comments were replaced with positive ones and Gruel’s restaurant flourished.

How a company handles a bad review can impress current and potential customers. By responding quickly, showing empathy, and offering a solution, a company can turn a negative review into a positive one.

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You Can’t Please Everyone

Although you should always take negative reviews seriously, don’t let them get you down. Sometimes you can’t please everyone. All customers have expectations, and occasionally those expectations are unrealistic.

Let’s say you have a couple who are strict vegans. Yet, despite knowing your restaurant is a steakhouse, they choose to dine there anyway. Later the couple wrote a negative online review about the meat-heavy menu, and complain how they had to cobble together a meal from the limited non-meat and dairy options.

In this case, your restaurant did nothing wrong. The couple did a disservice to themselves when they knowingly chose to go to a steakhouse, not a vegan-friendly restaurant. While this is an extreme example, difficult clients aren’t uncommon. Don’t take it personally.

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