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How to Make Negative Reviews Work For Your Online Business

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By Emily Nelson - February 23, 2023- in Go-Getter Blog

If you’re not responding to your reviews, especially the negative ones, you’re limiting the potential & revenue of your online business. Studies show 75% of companies don’t respond to reviews at all, yet 53% of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week. One in three customers want reviews to be answered in three days or less, & faster review response times are closely linked to enjoying a positive reputation.

Give your customers what they want with timely feedback that addresses their issues–all while improving your business. But how do you navigate the minefield of negative reviews & make them work for your online store? Here’s how to get started.

Respond Quickly

It’s vital to respond to all of your online reviews as quickly as possible & stay on top of the problem. Just as importantly, you want to show that you are an active & engaged business owner who cares about your customers. Responding quickly indicates you are vested & committed to addressing the issues at hand. 

But it’s not just about the negative reviews. Reacting promptly to positive reviews also keeps up the engagement & helps balance out the negative comments.

Determine If The Comments Are Valid

Not all negative comments are valid or even accurate. If the reviews are obviously fake, you can solicit the review platform to remove them. Some sites, like Google My Business, allow you to flag the reviews & complete a follow-up survey to attempt to have the reviews removed. If you can’t get them removed, you can also leave a response under the fake comment. Here are a few examples:

  • Our ecommerce store does not sell the llama-themed jackets you are upset about, so this review must be a mistake. Best of luck in your shopping journey!
  • We are sorry to hear about your problem, but we have never offered overnight shipping, nor do we have any requests for it in our system. You must be leaving a review for the wrong ecommerce store.
  • We’re sorry to hear your coupon code didn’t work, but we have never issued one for 50% off in our five years in business. Please check that it’s for the correct store, or reach out to our customer service team so we can take a look & see if we can figure something out.

Think About Whether or Not the Negative Comments Even Matter

Not all negative reviews are bad for your business. For example, some of your customers may hate the taste of your very berry coconut twist smoothie. If they’re describing it in detail & saying it’s too sweet, this could be a win for your ecommerce store. Potential customers who love the sweet stuff will know this is the smoothie for them. 

The same thing goes for your apparel. Some of your customers may complain your customized hoodies are too warm. Now the rest of your customer base knows you sell cozy hoodies ready for an arctic blast.

Fix the Problem

It’s good for your business when you can fix customers’ problems, especially if it’s your mistake. Sure, slow shipping may be out of your control, but you could consider offering a coupon code to make up for it. Or go ahead & make an exception to return that custom T-shirt that came out looking slightly off-colored. You don’t have to fix everything that lands in an online review, but you’ll win the loyalty of customers when you can.

Once you decide what you can fix, make it public in your online reviews. Here’s an example of what to say:

“We’re so sorry to hear that your T-shirt didn’t look as high-quality as it should have. We’d love to fix the problem by offering a return & coupon code for your next order. Please get in touch with our customer service so we can process your return. Thank you!”

Make It Personal

Best practices say not to make business personal, but it’s incredibly personal for both you & your customers. Empathize with your customers & acknowledge the issue sounds frustrating & you want to address it. Talk about what you can & can’t do & what to do next. You can also follow up by email or text to ask if the problem is resolved & check in. The more your customers feel you’re vested in their satisfaction, the more likely they will spread the word.

Avoid Getting Emotional

It’s one thing to make your business more personal, but that doesn’t mean you should make it emotional. Getting angered or frustrated by your online reviews is normal, but it isn’t the right approach to take when you respond to them. Customers are already frustrated by their problematic shopping experience; they don’t want to feel publicly talked down to or scolded. 

Instead, take a few moments to calm down or wait until the next day to respond. Keep it calm, neutral, & focus on solutions & problem-solving. If responding to negative reviews is exceptionally difficult for you, outsource it! There are plenty of seasoned virtual assistants & customer service pros who are brilliant at handling disgruntled consumers.

Take Communications Offline

There’s more to online reviews than monitoring & responding to them. Get your customers offline & place a call to talk through the issue. You’ll also get to the root of the problem & resolve it faster than trying to talk through a review forum or email. People are often surprised by the personalized customer service & are less likely to keep trolling you when you’re there to talk it out.

Embrace Constructive Criticism

Negative online reviews & complaints are really an opportunity in disguise. Look for patterns in your online reviews to determine how you can improve your ecommerce store. You may realize you need to outsource more while lowering your overhead. Hire someone to deal with your bookkeeping & lean on print-on-demand to scale your business while reducing your production.

CustomCat fuels ecommerce stores with easy-to-customize products. Upload your designs to your online library & apply them to mugs, hoodies, artwork, shirts, hats, bags, & more. When someone buys your item, we get to work behind the scenes producing & fulfilling it & sending it out on your behalf. Everything is white-labeled, so you’re the superstar of your business. 

Learn more about how CustomCat works here.

Accept Full Responsibility

There’s always a reason why mishaps occur in your business, from a disruption at the post office to your warehouse experiencing a flood. But whatever the reason, you’re still in charge of your business & the critical problem-solver for your online store. Whether you were the reason for the mistake or not, you’re still ultimately responsible for figuring out what to do next. Embrace the challenge as the leader of your business & an ecommerce owner who cares.


How do you make negative reviews work for your business? Let us know by leaving a comment!


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