How to Turn a Negative Online Review into a Positive Opportunity

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Adam Bensman

Development Coach at The Roof Strategist

“NEVER use this company to replace your roof! The job went horribly wrong! My father almost died of carbon monoxide poisoning!”

Ever get an online review like that? That sample is a true story of a crazy customer my former client served. It was a hoax. I don’t care if you are the greatest contractor in the world. The plain and simple truth is you can’t please everyone. It happens. Unhappy customers, no matter what the cause, are far more likely to tell their friends and blab all over the internet than a satisfied customer.

negative online review

A lot of companies I work with view these poor, well… downright awful reviews as complete sabotage. I couldn’t disagree more. Let’s face the facts. It’s incredibly easy for anyone online to write whatever they want about whoever they want with zero consequences. Internet trollers is what we call them.

Good news is that nearly everyone online knows this. They can decipher the crazies from the real reviews. I just visited a restaurant who had fifty four 5 star reviews and only one 1 star review. I read the one star review. It cracked me up. The guy tore the restaurant owners apart. Thankfully, the owners were wise enough to respond properly and rose to the occasion to turn the negative review into an incredible opportunity.

They did it right, and you can too. Here’s how:

1. Don’t rationalize or get defensive.

Nothing screams caddiness and lack of professionalism than a company digging in their heels to rationalize how things went. “Well of course the construction was loud. It’s a roof… we use hammers.” Don’t say things like that. I’ve seen it done time and time again. It makes you look like a fool.

2. Don’t speak directly to the reviewer.

Remember this. Chances are you won’t fully win over the reviewer to flip their review around. There will be one person (the reviewer) reading your response, and there could be thousands of other people reading the review (and your response) to see how your company handled it. This is where the opportunity rises. Use this opportunity to reference other happy customers and how you do things.

3. Eat a slice of humble pie.

Do not try and prove your point. Face the scenario head on and admit fault, apologize, and offer an opportunity to make it right. Keyboard kings and internet trollers are looking to get a rile out of you. It helps them think they’ve “won.” If you sink to their level you’ll just enter into an endless strain of banter. There is a tactful way to handle it.

4. Reference your commitment to service and past success.

People and companies make mistakes. It happens. It’s how you handle it that gives you an opportunity to shine. Acknowledge their time in writing a review. Also be sure to reference your commitment to service and customer satisfaction. This broadcasts to the world that you actually care and take the time to review customer concerns. Believe it or not, this is where the real opportunity is. Reviews that go unanswered are bad. Reviews that banter back and forth with the reviewer are worse. Tell the world you care. They’ll see right past the non-sense reviews and internet trolling.

Bring it all together.

Try this on for size:

“I’m very sorry to hear that our service didn’t meet the standards we strive for with all of our customers. Our #1 goal is providing exceptional service. I appreciate you taking the time to provide us feedback on your experience. It helps us in our pursuit to continually improve our service. The construction process includes a lot of variables beyond our control. We do everything we can, and use the most advanced technologies to keep our process running smooth. 95% of our customers have written us raving reviews and I’m sorry your experience didn’t match theirs. We’ll be giving you a call to see what we can do to help remedy the situation.”

Collect reviews. Lots and lots of them. Internet reviews are game changers. Look at Amazon. People don’t even read product descriptions any more. Everyone reads reviews. Plus, everyone looks right through the negative reviews. Even the highest ranking products on Amazon have negative reviews. Don’t let fear hold you back from asking your customers for reviews. Even a negative review is an opportunity to shine and turn it into a positive experience. Remember, it’s not the homeowner who is listening, it’s the thousands of shopping customers you want to speak to when responding to reviews.

Wondering how to get more reviews? Check out our how-to video and guide.
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