By the end of this article, my goal is to make you LOVE bad reviews as much as many people love reading them.
The fact of the matter is bad reviews stand out like a sore thumb, and they don’t go away. There will ALWAYS be critics, people who are simply impossible to please, or times where your business actually did drop the ball. However, bad reviews don’t always have to spell doom and gloom for your company. There are reasons why companies should embrace bad reviews. I’ll explain these reasons and how to proactively leverage bad reviews to help reach your business goals and prevent these reviews from ranking in the number one spot when someone searches your company name.
In case you need some data to prove why you should care about online reviews, voila:
It’s clear that all reviews, both good and bad, have a significant impact on buyers’ decisions. Since businesses don’t normally fret over the good ones, here are 5 reasons why you should embrace the bad reviews and how to make bad press work in your favor.
Reason #1 – Positive reviews DO NOT help you fix or find business problems
If you are a business owner, you are not usually onsite to see everything your employees do. Are they following procedure? Are they treating customers well? Are they upholding the brand to your standards? Guess what, you may never know unless you plan to be an “Undercover Boss” and visit in disguise to see what is really going on or be the “Big Brother” eye in the sky.
On the other hand, if yours is an online business, analytics is what you primarily rely on to identify potential site issues, poor performing content, digital trends, and buyer journey insights. In this case, your users are arguably your most valuable source of actionable data. However, some of the most honest data that can possibly be generated are naturally submitted user reviews (notwithstanding people who are just generally trolls). The bottom line is, bad reviews uncover brutal truths, customer pain points, and operational issues that may need immediate attention. This is all extremely useful data for a responsive and responsible business.
Reason #2 – Negative reviews uncover COMPETITIVE OPPORTUNITIES
Not only can bad reviews help you to identify business related problems they even act as an early warning system. For example, if you run a luxury restaurant, positive reviews will not help you identify how to improve your recipes and menu options. Negative reviews on the other hand, will give you a brutal and honest look into where your product falls short of expectations, what you can do to improve, and may even mention competitors who are doing what you do but in a better way.
In bad reviews, you can find FREE market and competitive research data. If suddenly your MoM sales of a particular product drop by 20%, you may not necessarily have a clue why without extensive and EXPENSIVE research. If nothing has changed in the user experience, new and sudden bad reviews may point you in the right direction of the contributing cause for the dip. Maybe the product is faulty or less than what the customer expected. User feedback tells you precisely how customers have interacted with your products and provide actionable information on where you can begin to improve.
Reason #3 – Reviews are opportunities for Sentiment and Keyword Analysis
So someone just tore into your product or service, and you are feeling a bit emotional, I get it. Stop! Remember to treat reviews like data, not “disses,” and don’t take it personal! Both positive and negative reviews have one thing in common, they contain valuable and quantifiable data. When using any type of analysis, MORE DATA IS BETTER. You can take all of this data and run it through text analysis to identify personas, demographic information, and trending topics relevant specifically to your business. Furthermore, by using a sentiment analysis you can gauge what customers really think of your brand and measure yourself against other companies to see how good of a job you are doing.
We at iPullRank rock like nobody’s business when it comes to this, and we further define sentiment analysis as follows:
“Sentiment Analysis is the process of determining whether a piece of writing (product/movie review, tweet, etc.) is positive, negative or neutral. It can be used to identify the customer or follower’s attitude towards a brand through the use of variables such as context, tone, emotion, etc. Marketers can use sentiment analysis to research public opinion of their company and products or to analyze customer satisfaction. Organizations can also use this analysis to gather critical feedback about problems in newly released products.”
Want to know HOW iPullRank does a sentiment analysis? Read our article: Step-By-Step Twitter Sentiment Analysis: Visualizing United Airlines’ PR Crisis
Reason #4 – Bad reviews on the top OF SERPs reveals SEO weaknesses and opportunities
What does it mean to your business if another site is ranking over your website in the SERP for your own branded keywords? It means there is plenty of opportunity in your SEO (that’s actually a pretty bad situation, but I wanted to break it to you gently). If someone queries “Your Company Name” + “reviews”, a stealth competitor will create content, such as a blog article highlighting your company’s weaknesses and capture your potential traffic. On the other hand, there may be websites such as online review sites or local search platforms that may be driving traffic to or from your website.
In these cases, you are presented with backlinking opportunities, and places where you can directly set up accounts to manage your company presence such as Google Business, Yelp, Trustpilot, etc. Ideally you want to find a way to reclaim that traffic and top SERP positions. The overall goal here is to create and launch content that closely aligns with the buyer’s intent and search queries so your company’s content may land among the top hits for information seekers. Welcome, you have now entered the realm of ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT.
Here are a few suggestions of good content ideas to counteract those bad reviews:
- Create your OWN review page for users to post to and highlight your wins
- Source sites that have good reviews and reach out to them to link back to your site to improve authority
- Create an FAQ page that answers as many of your buyer’s questions as possible. If you don’t, those bad reviews will answer them for you and be at the top of your buyers’ search which is NOT a good thing.
Reason #5 – DON’T take bad reviews as personal attacks! Convert critics to evangelists!
Look at bad reviews as opportunities to convert critics to evangelists. I’ve seen quite a few examples where companies really blew it here. I strongly believe the WORST thing a company can do with a bad review, besides ignoring or denying it, is to blast the reviewer. Absolutely do not kill the messenger and publicly demean a buyer. All this does is demonize your brand and open the door for potential backlash by encouraging people to rally to the side of the “victim.”
The best approach is to publicly and directly respond to and address the issue in said bad review. Yes, this can mean an apology or preferably a thank you (grin and bear it), acknowledgment of a potential internal problem (swallow the pride), and most importantly a statement that shows you sympathize and will address the issue surfaced in this bad review.
Response Best Practices:
- The response should be on-brand with company tone
- Respond with a pre-approved and customized response (Not a canned response)
- Directly address the issues surfaced in the bad review
- Open a dialogue with a call to action e.g. “Call us here xxx-xxxx so we can fix this”
- Convert bad to a good review, if possible
- Publicize the resolution of the issue from the bad review
Responses should be part of a larger, on-brand, PR strategy to address negative reviews, and processes should be established between your PR and social media teams. Ideally these processes extend as far as the head office, where real operational response and change can be implemented. Overall, show that you are a company that cares, not a company that jeers.
Showing that you care about buyers, that you listen to their complaints and not just their praise, is not a bad thing. After all, even if you don’t win this buyer back, you will have just won the confidence of all those who read this bad review during the research phase of their buyer’s journey (read more about it in 5 pitfalls to avoid along the buyer’s journey). Also, if your response hits home, you may have a second chance to turn this bad review into a revised good review by a newly converted evangelist. Your brand will look like a champion. This is more than smart marketing AND online reputation management, this is great customer relations.
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How does your company handle bad reviews? What response strategy has worked in managing negative customer reviews?