4 Steps to Turn Negative Reviews into Positive Customer Experiences

4 Steps to Turn Negative Reviews into Positive Customer Experiences

Negative reviews are a fact of life; there’s always going to be a customer who isn’t 100% satisfied with their experience and wants to let you know about it. But bad reviews can be more than a headache. They can present an opportunity to improve your business processes and demonstrate that you care about your customers’ experiences. Indeed, the statistics bear this out: only 20% of customers will forgive a bad experience at a company and return again, but nearly 80% will forgive a bad experience if they rate the service team as “very good.” (Qualtrics XM Institute). So today we’re going to focus on some strategies you can use to turn negative reviews into positive customer experiences, creating more loyal customers and improving your business practices.


Listen to what the customer is saying in their negative review.

The customer isn’t always right, but the customer is always the customer. Is the review simply destructive or does it include constructive feedback on how you can improve the customer experience? Did you promise something and fail to deliver? Even if it was an anomaly, if there is truth to the customer review, take it to heart and use it to ensure your processes don’t break down again. 

If, on the other hand, the review is inappropriate or a senseless rant, you can report the review to the platform (example: Yelp and Google have guidelines to help you flag and remove certain reviews). If the review is left on your own website or a social media platform, you’ll have to decide whether or not to remove it. As a general rule, leaving the review and your positive response to it (more on that below) is the best strategy. Removing all negative reviews will definitely send the wrong message: that you don’t care about your customers’ experiences and you aren’t open to hearing constructive feedback. However, if the review is abusive or inappropriate you may remove it at your own discretion. There may be a small percentage of reviews that won’t have an issue you can fix. 


Respond to negative reviews in a timely manner.

For any review expressing a genuine concern, always respond to the customer to let them know you’re listening and that you’re interested in making the situation right. If you need more information about the situation, ask questions. You are gathering information so you can ensure the problem isn’t repeated in the future, and any details the customer can give you will help you identify how best to reshape your policies and procedures to that end. When did the issue occur? Did they deal with a particular staff member? What product or service were they displeased with?

In your response, emphasize that your focus is on customer happiness and, depending on the magnitude of the issue, offer something of value to make amends. Offering the customer something lets them know you value their feedback and concerns, and it also gives you another opportunity to demonstrate how you’d like customers to be treated.

Responses should be timely. Whether that’s 24 hours or 1-2 business days, don’t let reviews sit unanswered. The longer the customer waits without a response, the worse the situation will be. This doesn’t mean you have to be listening and responding 24/7, but build a process that includes a relatively short time frame and stick to it.

In your response, or after the issue is resolved to the customer’s satisfaction, add a personal touch. A thank you note, a phone call to let the customer know how the situation has been resolved, all of these demonstrate you’re listening and you value the customer.


Fix the problem.

This goes without saying, but if there has been an issue with your products or services, you need to fix the issue at the root cause so it doesn’t happen again. Be open-minded about what you hear from customer reviews and examine your policies, procedures, products, and services to identify what systems you need to put in place. Whether it was a one-time problem, or a repeat occurrence, how can you ensure it doesn’t affect another customer in the future?


Share the solution.

Once you are sure you have the appropriate systems in place, let the affected customer know that the issue is fixed. If the review they have left is public, respond to the review and share how you have ensured that the problem won’t be repeated. Encourage them to visit again so you can make it right. The purpose of a public response is to share that you’re listening and taking proactive steps to improve the customer experience. Any potential customers who are consulting reviews before purchase will benefit from seeing this alongside a negative review.


We hope we’ve given you a few ideas on how to take a bad review and turn it into a positive customer experience. If you’d like more tips and suggestions to improve the customer experience, contact us today – we can help!

Laura Cameron
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