Jessica Hulett
November 10th, 2020

How to Use Bad Reviews to Your Advantage

Many businesses fear negative reviews, without realizing they can actually have a positive effect on their business.

Table Of Contents

When deciding whether or not to implement reviews online, many businesses worry about the impact of bad reviews.

Bad reviews are a fact of business, whether you have a brick-and-mortar store, are an eCommerce business, or some combination of both. It’s hard to please all customers all of the time.

But not only is negative feedback something you shouldn’t shy away from — it may even help your business. In this guide, we will show you how to best leverage negative reviews for your business.

The truth about bad reviews

It’s impossible to live in a world of 5-star experiences, so why are businesses so afraid of negative reviews? First of all, let’s clear some things up:

  • Negative reviews don’t mean your business is bad.
  • Poor reviews can actually help your business.
  • Handling bad reviews is easy (we’ll share some techniques below).
  • The best way to combat bad reviews? Get more good ones!

No one likes to see bad reviews online, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in negative feedback. Maybe you got a bad review on Yelp, or someone wrote a scathing review on one of your products, or even just an email that detailed a negative experience they had — don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong.

The truth is, anyone who has a business has had to deal with at least a couple of bad reviews. And if everyone who has gotten bad product reviews closed up shop, eCommerce just wouldn’t exist.

If and when you get a negative review, the most important thing to remember is that it doesn’t mean your product or service is bad. Most likely, the review was a result of mismatched expectations or simply a bad day on the part of the reviewer (or the business).

Now that that’s cleared up, we can get into the business of why you need bad reviews.

Why negative reviews are important for your business

Believe it or not, there can be a lot of positive side effects to negative product reviews. Let’s take a look at them.

Bad reviews make good reviews look more authentic

One of the best side effects of negative reviews is the positive light they shed on good reviews. When a business shows all of their reviews, they prove they have nothing to hide. Consumers tend to trust reviews more when they see a mix of good and bad feedback.

Most consumers know that fake reviews are a huge problem in online retail. If a product has nothing but 5-star reviews, it tends to raise red flags.

Main takeaway: Negative reviews are good for your brand because they’re proof that your reviews are real.

Bad reviews assist in making the right purchase decision

In addition to boosting customer trust in your brand, bad reviews give shoppers a real picture of what they can expect from your products and service. One of the main reasons customers write bad reviews is not because the product was bad, but because it didn’t meet expectations.

In fact, a Yotpo study of 1.3 million reviews found that the most commonly used negative word in reviews – by an enormous margin – is “disappointment” or “disappointed.”

For example, let’s say a clothing store gets negative reviews saying that the fit on a top was too small. Shoppers who read those bad product reviews know that they need to order a larger size. Shoppers can see the reason behind negative feedback and then can use this knowledge to make smarter purchase decisions.

Main takeaway: Negative reviews give potential customers insight and advice that may not otherwise be available.

Bad reviews give you an opportunity to build trust

When consumers see a bad review for a product they are interested in, they want to see something else, too: how the business responds to that criticism. Interacting with customers who have had a negative experience shows you’re being proactive about addressing problems. This helps build brand trust.

For example, let’s say your product shipped later than anticipated because of an issue with the fulfillment center. Responding to the reviewer with an explanation of the problem shows everyone reading those reviews that it was an isolated issue, and not indicative of what they can expect from your business.

Main takeaway: Responding positively to negative reviews can actually increase trust in your business.

Bad reviews help with SEO

Whether your reviews are positive, negative, or somewhere in between, they can still have a positive impact on your SEO. In fact, reviews account for more than 15% of Google ranking factors.

Even negative reviews often contain keywords that are relevant for your brand, which help when consumers are searching for products. If you don’t publish your negative reviews, you’re missing out on potential traffic to your website or products.

Main takeaway: Reviews — even negative ones — can positively boost your SEO.

Bad reviews help you improve your business

Some bad reviews are one-offs, but if you see the same negative feedback over and over, it may be time to think about how you’re doing business. Reviews can offer insight on areas where you can improve your product or service or better communicate with your customers.

For example, if a vast majority of customers are complaining about products not shipping or arriving when they’re supposed to, then you can either make changes to your shipping process or update the expected wait times on your website so you’re better meeting customer expectations.

Main takeaway: Use negative feedback to make changes that allow your business to better meet the needs of customers.

So what should you do about bad reviews?

The one thing you shouldn’t do about negative reviews is ignore them. Instead, follow these steps:

  1. Don’t panic! Remember that negative reviews are not that bad and they can actually help your business.
  2. Publish your bad reviews. Resist the urge to remove negative reviews. It’s natural to have some unhappy customers, and posting your negative reviews shows you have nothing to hide.
  3. Respond to negative reviews publicly. Show that you care about the issue and have resolved it with a public response. Research shows that hotels that respond to negative reviews actually see a big lift in revenue, an excellent customer retention tactic.
  4. Learn from negative product and business reviews. Is there anything you can learn about your products or service from the negative feedback? Stop bad business reviews at the source by addressing any core issues.
  5. Follow up. Make sure to follow up after the fact to ensure the customer is happy with the resolution of their issue. They will be grateful for your commitment and ultimately remember a positive online shopping experience instead of the negative one.
  6. Get more good reviews. Yotpo research shows that 86% of reviews are 4 or 5 stars. This means that getting more positive comments is simply a numbers game — you just need to get more reviews, period.

        3 types of bad reviews (and how to respond to them)

        As we mentioned above, some reviews are simply customers who were disappointed in one aspect of your product or service. But there are a few different types of reviewers, and there’s a different approach you should take when dealing with each one. So, here are some examples of how to respond to negative reviews.

        The customer didn’t like the product

        This type of review is hard to deal with, because you can’t make a customer like a product. What you can do is offer them an alternative. For example, maybe this particular customer would respond more to a fragrance-free product, if you sell one. Offering a discount may help sweeten the deal.

        The customer had a problem with delivery or customer service

        If the customer liked the product or service itself, but had a shipping or delivery issue or bad customer service experience, you’re in luck. They’re likely to buy again if you are able to rectify their issues. Offer a discount, or give them an alternative email or phone number where they can speak to someone who can solve their problem and ensure they won’t have the same issues in the future.

        The customer had an issue with your store policies

        Even if you post your store policies — like information about returns and  shipping costs — on your website, it doesn’t mean that your customers will read them. If a customer is disappointed that they want to return an item, but didn’t do so within the return window, for example, you can still respond reiterating your policy and urging them to contact customer service to see if anything further can be done. Not only does this communicate your policy to other shoppers who may be reading reviews, but it moves the complaint offline.

        No matter what type of bad review it is, a good business response to it should have three things:

        • An apology
        • A statement of your commitment to customer satisfaction
        • A way to move the conversation offline

        Don’t fear the negative reviews

        If there’s one thing you take away from this piece it should be this: Negative reviews are not that bad. They can help your business, they’re easy to handle and you can easily combat them by just getting more reviews in general (because we know most of them will be good!).

        Yotpo can help you collect and get the most out of your customer reviews, good or bad. Learn more about how Yotpo Reviews can help your business build trust and drive revenue.

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