Negative Online Reviews – a Disaster or an Opportunity?


The problem of getting unfavorable customer reviews is a true headache for any business owner. Sometimes the fear of negative opinions is so strong, that people tend to doubt if it makes sense to try internet marketing at all. That’s why today I’m providing a brief instruction for entrepreneurs who have come across their clients’ complaints in the web.

Let me begin with a reminder: no matter how awesome your product or company is, there will always appear people who won’t like it. And who won’t hesitate to spread the word about it. Negative reviews will appear sooner or later. Moreover, as opposed to the offline world, the information will span not only among friends and acquaintances of the displeased clients – it will be available for everyone. Being published on a popular website it can be viewed by hundreds or even thousands of visitors. The question is: how fast you get to know about it and what you are going to do with it.

Before tearing out your hair try to understand what a negative online review actually is. Most likely, a client has no aim to cause damage to your company (excluding cases of black PR campaigns planned in cold blood). As a rule, such reviews are written under strong emotions. In fact this is a kind of call for help or a request for attention. Such authors have a sincere wish to fix the situation and think this is the only way to do it.

Here are the most common reasons of customers’ discontent:

  • Poor product quality – cold coffee, stale food, broken device, etc.
  • Bad service or refusal to help.
  • Service process errors, such as non-appearance of a repairman in spite of a firm arrangement.
  • Insulting or illegal actions – rudeness of the staff, overdue product sale, etc.

It is vital to respond to negative reviews quickly and correctly. You have only two ways – ignore the client and lose him forever, or try to turn his negative experience into a positive one. If the newer good impression is strong enough, you will get a happy client. And don’t forget that the internet is an open public space, so your behavior will be estimated not only by the review author, but by other users as well.

Respect your clients. They are not just numbers, leads, sales and other lines of your business plan. They are human beings. And they like to be treated accordingly. They like to be talked to. “Excuse me”, “Thank you”, “I’ll try my best to settle this problem” – that’s what they want to hear from you. Attention, respect and friendly tone will show that people working in your company are as alive as the clients are. Treat them with the same justice you want for yourself.

While replying to online negative reviews follow these 8 steps:

  1. Admit that the problem exists. Denial and defensive position will only make the client angrier.
  2. Define the essence of the problem. Ask additional questions, learn all possible details.
  3. Detect the reason of the problem. Find the employeers of your company who are responsible for it. Don’t forget to listen to their version of the incident.
  4. Find the way to solve the problem at all costs. Discuss your decision with the client. Ask him/her if this is the right way to settle the question.
  5. Neutralize the reason of the problem. Make a refund or offer another kind of compensation. Instruct your staff once again.
  6. Apologize to the client publicly (in the place where the negative review first appeared). Assure him that you are really disturbed by the unpleasant incident. Most likely, by this moment he will calm down already.
  7. Report on the taken measures publicly.
  8. Make relevant changes within your company to prevent similar complaints in the future.

It may sound paradoxically, but it is much better to have displeased clients than not to have any clients at all.


Negative opinions, if properly processed, can become a powerful tool for your business development. Owing to unhappy clients’ complaints your get firsthand information on what’s wrong and what’s to be corrected in your company. You should be thankful to the people who have found time to help you in detecting and solving your problems. If you look at negative reviews from this viewpoint, very soon you’ll stop being afraid of them. Moreover, statistics report that most clients, whose claims were satisfied, make their next purchases from the same company – the one that had made them unhappy at first, but then settled the problem.


The full original article by Polina Beletskaya

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