How to Handle (And Reverse) Negative Online Reviews

5 Minutes Read

Tips on Handling Negative Rviews

Many e-commerce businesses don’t fully appreciate the damage negative online reviews can do. The negative impact on sales can hinder growth goals and even force a company to close forever. That’s because 94% of online shoppers report a negative review has convinced them to avoid a business. Negative reviews can act as a permanent stain on a company and can be virtually impossible to remove. All that sounds terrifying right? Not necessarily.

There are proven strategies to handle scathing feedback and advantages to be gained from negative online reviews. If every review is positive, potential customers could become suspicious that the feedback is manufactured. The fact that negative reviews exist can build credibility for your online store, rather than diminish it.

95% of Consumers Trust Online Reviews

Online reviews are important for shaping your business in the digital marketplace. Reviews can increase search result rankings, create consumer loyalty, mitigate negativity, and attract new customers who see you demonstrating publicly that you care about everyone’s experience. Consumers are also likely to spend 31% more when a business has positive reviews. With about 95% of customers reading online reviews before making a buying decision, it’s critical to manage feedback adequately enough to know when negative or positive postings appear. Companies that fail to respond to troubling feedback allow the naysayers to get their point of view shared unabated.

Where You’ll Find Online Reviews

According to customer feedback data, 76% of all reviews are either on Google or Facebook. The other popular channels include, but are not limited to:

  • Amazon
  • Third-party review websites (Yelp, Trustpilot, ConsumerAffairs)
  • Social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram)
  • BBB (Better Business Bureau)
  • App Store
  • Your online store’s product or services page

Make sure your notifications are turned on and you’re registered on relevant third-party review sites and their apps. That will ensure your branding remains consistent across the web. This is particularly important for review sites that automatically generate a profile for your business.

How to Handle Negative Online Reviews

It’s natural to feel frustration when mistakes happen or someone criticizes your business, especially if you feel the complaint is unjustified. That’s why it’s important to take a moment before responding and settle your emotions, as being angry or defensive will never lead to a good outcome. But don’t ignore the critique.

Harvard Business Review found companies that responded to negative reviews online resulted in better ratings overall. If you’re struggling with how to approach less than flattering feedback, here’s what to do to address negative reviews, mitigate damage to your business, and protect your reputation.

Find out what happened

Start by putting on your private investigator hat and looking further into what went wrong. Check for validity and relevance of the review by researching the commenter’s name and email address, as well as talking to employees who may have dealt with the customer. Once you’ve assured validity, try to understand the customer’s perspective, and never dismiss their experience. Rather, ask yourself what can be done? Get ready to roll up your sleeves and start problem-solving.

Write a professional and compassionate reply quickly

Most customers who complain simply want to be heard and addressed personally. Avoid the generic “Dear customer” and refer to them by name if possible. Create a response tailored to the customer and their situation. Thank them for the feedback and emphasize how you truly regret they did not have a positive experience with your business. Be sure to mention a solution will be presented, whether it’s a discount off their next purchase or the customer is asked to call the company to talk about what happened. Don’t be afraid to respond publicly because it will show you have nothing to hide.

Call out non-customers

Occasionally, a review will come from a competitor, disgruntled employee, or can be fake. It’s important to respond to these reviews too. If you’ve found the “customer” is not in your company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system, it’s okay to spell out that your business does not have a record of this transaction. In some cases, it may be possible to remove the review. For example, on Google you can report a policy violation. Also, don’t let these non-customers get you down. Reviews are one of the factors that determine where your business ranks in online search results. A “customer” engaging with your business by sharing a negative experience still helps you increase overall visibility.

Motivate the customer to update their review

After you have successfully resolved the issue, you could politely ask your customer to edit their review reflecting a better experience. However, be sure to exercise caution here. If it seems you’ve really changed the customer’s perspective and you’re 100% certain they are happy again, slip in the request. Make sure your tone is friendly and not coercive. Customers should not feel threatened or incentivized to change their feedback.

Learn and improve from the negative review

Negative feedback is a great opportunity for you to identify innovations and ways to improve your business systems, processes, products, and services. Make everyone in your company aware of the reviews you’ve received, both positive and negative, and communicate an improvement plan. Not only will that help to ensure you prevent similar issues moving forward, but it also builds a customer-centric mindset among employees.

Specific Strategies to Reverse Negative Online Reviews

It’s critical to create a process for responding to negative reviews, no matter the size of your e-commerce business. Your policy should cover the timeline for getting back to customers, appropriate language to use, and the process of sharing feedback with your team. Let’s dig even deeper into best practices for reversing negative online reviews.

Respond promptly

The clock begins ticking once reviews are posted so you want to reply in a timely manner – ideally within 24 hours. Promptly responding to online negative reviews shows the customer you care and value their opinion. It may also be the catalyst that results in a customer who had a bad experience with your business giving you a second chance.

Be honest

Admit if your company has done something wrong and sincerely apologize. If a negative review is about something that isn’t your fault, you can at least acknowledge the reviewer’s experience and provide reassurance that you hold yourself to high standards.

Take accountability

Don’t make excuses for why the incident happened or blame the reviewer. Instead, respond to the customer with an explanation of the problem. Communicate any changes or improvements you will make because of their feedback. That way they know the problem is being solved.

Offer a partial refund

In the consumer’s eyes, the alleged incident has probably cost them time or money. While an apology can go far, a partial refund on the product or service might make them even more likely to shop at your business again and update the review.

Offer a future discount

Once the incident is smoothed over, you can offer the reviewer a discount or something special to welcome them back to enjoy future products or services. Depending on the platform the review is on, this process may be automated.

Ask the customer for a new review after a better experience

If you feel you’ve done everything in your power to resolve an issue, you may consider reaching out to your customer to update their negative review. The reviewer may even change the rating or feedback without you asking. A good way to tell whether it’s appropriate is to ask yourself these questions first. Does the customer think the problem is fixed? Did the customer accept the refund, discount, and return for a second chance?

Strategies to Get More Positive Online Reviews

Ultimately, the best way to combat negative reviews is to get more good ones! Here are a few best practices to cultivate positive reviews online:

Solicit feedback.

Start with an open-ended question to kick off the process such as, “How are you liking the product?” You can gauge the customer’s level of satisfaction and collect feedback before asking a customer to submit a review if their experience is positive. You can also flag negative feedback this way and rectify the issue before it becomes public.

Ask for reviews at strategic moments.

The best time to ask for a potential review is after demonstrating success with a customer such as a referral, reorder, or tag on social media. Studies show most consumers will leave a review if you simply just ask them.

Make it easy.

Prompt customers with a quick and seamless way to write a glowing review on targeted sites. Communicate how the process will only take mere minutes.

Work with great business partners.

Your partners undoubtedly influence reviews. For example, there is nothing that makes a customer happier than fast shipping. Hiring an organized and speedy third-party warehouse for shipping fulfillment can lead to delighted customers and more positive reviews.

Choose Ship My Orders For Worry-Free Logistics

The best defense against negative feedback is to take a proactive approach to monitor review platforms, generating more positive reviews online, and finding partners that enhance your customer experience. Of course, here at Ship My Orders, we’re partial to 3PL services.

A great third-party logistics partner helps build trust in your e-commerce business and creates a wonderful experience for your customers, therefore improving customer reviews. You’ve got enough on your plate as an e-commerce business owner, we’ve got you covered with order fulfillment. Contact Ship My Orders today for help elevating your logistics AND your ratings.

Picture of Dan R.

Dan R.