Customer Reviews: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly


It’s scary, putting your brand’s reputation in the hands of your customers, but these days, it’s essential. While customer reviews can make you bite your nails, dreading an angry customer who might destroy your business in a single sentence, they actually can make your business thrive...even with negative reviews. Here’s how.

Start with Stellar Service

If you’re doing your absolute best to deliver the products and service that your customers expect (and then some!) then you shouldn’t have to worry about negative customer reviews. Everyone who spends money with you wants to be treated fairly, and you owe them that. In return, they should be happy to tell others about their experience with your brand.

Let Customers Know You Welcome Their Reviews

When you have a happy customer, don’t be timid about asking them to review their experience on whichever site you are trying to accumulate reviews (Yelp is a popular pick). Also have signage with the review site’s logo prominently placed near the cash register to remind them to review you later.

If you sell online, include a request to review your brand in a follow-up email after the sale.

Pamper Your Reviewers Like Rock Stars

You should be grateful for every positive review someone leaves you. It could be that single review that convinces someone else to buy from you. Make sure to respond to every review, thanking the reviewer for taking the time to share her experience. It’s always nice to engage in a little personal exchange like, “We’re glad you like our chocolate cake! Come in next month to try the new bacon chocolate cake! You’ll love it.”

If it’s within your budget, offer something free as a thank you after the review is posted. In the cake example, you could offer a slice for free. That’s great incentive to get people back into your store.

Handling Negative Reviews the Right Way

While your first reaction to a hot-headed negative review might be filled with expletives, take time to cool off and assess the situation. First, understand that the customer is justified in feeling frustration at your company in most cases. You may think your staff is always sweet and polite, but maybe Sarah was having a bad day when she checked out this customer, and now the customer is telling the world not to shop with you.

Once you’ve had time to reflect on the review, consider the best way to approach it. You absolutely must respond (and quickly) in order to mitigate further damage. Start by apologizing publicly. This helps others see that you accept blame and are willing to make it right. If you need additional details, message the reviewer privately to get them. Then offer something to remedy the situation: that might be a refund or another product or service. If someone had the worst omelet of their life at your restaurant, invite them in and personally take their (on-the-house) order.

In most instances, your effort to ameliorate the situation will work its magic. Once you’ve won the customer over, ask if they would update their review to reflect your efforts to fix the problem. You’re not asking them to delete the previous review but rather show that you took a bad situation and made it better.

Image via Shutterstock

About the Author

Susan Payton

Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s written three books: DIY Press Releases: Your Guide to Becoming Your Own PR Consultant, 101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and has blogged for several sites, including The Marketing Eggspert Blog, as well as CorpNet, Small Business Trends, and BizLaunch.
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