Posted November 20, 2007 8:09 am by with 26 comments

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Rejected It might seem counter-intuitive, but if you want to build a stellar reputation for your business, you should embrace negative reviews. Sure, the more positive reviews you have for your business, the better it looks, but there are some benefits to having some negative ones too.

Andrew Goodman, guest writing for HomeStars, hits the nail on the head:

I was recently a little disconcerted when I visited the American Apparel site, because of the presence of too many glowing, cheerleading reviews of its products. Some simply said "I haven’t tried this yet but I’ll be getting one really soon!" Poring over the various reviews, I actually felt like I’d be more likely to buy the product that had at least one negative or moderate review. Why? Because I wouldn’t be as likely to suspect that the reviews are fake.

Here’s how you can benefit from negative reviews:

  1. Your need to know. If your products or services are crap, then you need to know about it. It’s better to hear it from your customers–so you can fix it–than never know about it and wonder why your sales suck.
  2. Build credibility. As Goodman points out, negative reviews add authenticity to your reputation. Consumers are smart–mostly–and they know that if you have 1000 customers, a few will be upset over something. Take a look at the hotel industry. Just about every hotel has a review that mentions dirty sheets, cockroaches, or rude staff. Yet we still stay in hotels. We just look for the ones that have the best overall reviews.
  3. Fix the problem. Research suggests that a customer will tell ten people about a negative experience with a business. However, if you fix the problem to their satisfaction, they’ll tell twenty people how happy they are! Look for negative reviews and fix the problem!
  4. Show you care. Potential customers look at how you handled the situation. If you do find yourself with a negative review or critique, rectifying the situation publicly will demonstrate to potential customers that you care about your reputation–and your customers.
  5. Learn from competitors’ mistakes. Don’t just read your negative reviews, read those of your competitors. If you learn where your rivals keep slipping-up, you can fine-tune your offering to make sure you don’t make the same mistake. Better still, how about reaching out to an unhappy customer of one of your competitors and fixing their problem–you could win a new customer for life!

What tips and advice do you have for responding to negative reviews? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

(Want more online reputation management advice? Pre-order my new book!)