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Home / Advertising & Marketing  / Two Stars: How Bad Customer Reviews Can Make Your Business Better

Finding out what customers think of a business is easier than ever. Customer reviews are available just about everywhere, including on Yelp, Google, Facebook, and companies’ own websites. And because most prospective customers read online reviews about products and services before making a purchase, many business owners dread getting bad reviews.

But those one- and two-star customer reviews are not as bad as you might think. Some business owners, even when they’re angry or embarrassed, see a bad review as an opportunity to improve. Reviews, particularly the negative ones, provide valuable information about what can be done better and sometimes point out reoccurring problems. If more than one person is picking up on the same issue, that’s something that a good business owner knows to focus on.

When you get a bad review, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Don’t ignore reviews.

It might be tempting to ignore or delete bad reviews, but it is more productive to respond. Customers expect a response to their comments, particularly when they have had a negative experience with your business. Responding to bad reviews is good customer service because it demonstrates that you care about customer feedback and want to improve your products and services based on that feedback. How you respond to public reviews will also affect the way that prospective customers see your business. Research has shown that a thoughtful response to a bad review improves customer impressions of a company.

Bad reviews aren’t (usually) personal.

When a customer leaves a bad review, it can feel like a personal attack. This is especially true when the review is rude or just downright offensive, but it is important to take some time before you respond. Think about how you are reacting to the comment and evaluate if you are being overly sensitive or might be taking a review too personally. Talk with someone whose opinion you trust about how to objectively address the issue and carefully plan your response.

Learn from the criticism.

Corporations and large businesses often spend huge amounts of money on customer surveys to get feedback on their products and services. Before you start spending money on information gathering, take advantage of the free information available in the form of online reviews. Positive reviews tell you what your business is doing well and should continue doing. Negative reviews are opportunities to improve your business because they highlight mistakes and other issues need to be addressed. When someone writes a negative review, they have provided you with free advice about what to do better next time.

It’s important to accept that every business is going to occasionally get bad reviews. Those reviews are a valuable opportunity to make improvements and to engage productively with current, as well as prospective customers. If you respond proactively and make an effort to learn from them, negative customer reviews can have a positive impact on your business ratings.