Negative online reviews can be good for business?

We all know local businesses face high states when it comes to online reviews. In 2011, a Harvard study concluded that a one-star increase in Yelp reviews of Seattle restaurants led to a 5-9% growth in revenue. According to a BrightLocal study, approximately 72% of consumers surveyed said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. It’s believed that Tom Cruise cost the 2006 movie Mission: Impossible III $100 million in ticket sales for bad publicity.

So why such a contrarian blog title?

Here’s the reason: smart companies see negative reviews as useful tools. 

I agree with Angie Hicks, the founder of Angie’s List, who said "Fixing a negative report is not a marketing action. It's plain old customer service... Negative reports are symptoms of greater issues on the horizon. So get to the actual problem and fix it. Once you do that, your negative report issue is solved as well."

Here are three steps to turn a negative review into a positive:

  1. Information: You can’t respond to what you don’t hear or read. Let's use this negative review to your advantage and listen to the information.

  2. Investigation: Gather as many facts as you can about the situation. If it's something you can correct, do it! And respond to the review, describing your efforts. If you can’t resolve the issue with the customer, say so, but do it professionally- never with anger or in a way that can be perceived as a personal attack.

  3. Communication: If you find reviews about your company, this is your time to respond to them with a professional and appropriate message. It’s not the time to respond with an emotional reaction. Your response can be as simple as "We are so sorry you had unsatisfactory service from us. We will be in touch to determine if we can fix the problem." The point is to get the word out fast that you're paying attention and prepared to act.