Online reviews can make or break a small business. No matter how hard you've worked to provide a solid product or service, it's going to be difficult to attract new customers if potential customers think your business is poor based on the reviews they find online. Whether they're looking at Google, Yelp, Amazon, YouTube, Facebook, or another channel, a consumer is likely to turn to a competitor if they see that others are having negative experiences with your business.

The good news is that you can use both positive and negative reviews to improve your products or services, which will, in turn, lead to a more positive reputation online.

Take Feedback to Heart

View online reviews as customer feedback. You may ask your customers to fill out surveys, but online reviews are just as effective. They can tell you a lot about what is working and what is not about your product or service. Many reviews will reflect both positive and negative aspects of a customer's experience, while others will either be entirely positive or negative. Consider both sides and consider what you could be doing differently to fix the issues on the negative side and expand upon what's actually pleasing people who have done business with you.

Identify Common Themes

As you read enough online reviews, it's possible that you'll start to see themes emerge, where multiple people are having similar experiences. If it's as simple as people being pleased with your product or service, then this can affirm that you are doing something right. On the flipside, if you are seeing numerous complaints about a specific aspect of your product or service, you can start to identify particulars and examine what is at the root of the problem.

Utilize Technology

Unless you're a very small or relatively new business, you might not have time to track down and digest all of the reviews about your business that are online. You can use technology, however, to help you get the most out of the reviews that are available.

"Establish the technological foundation for analyzing reviews," says McKinsey & Company.1 "Basic enablers include new data sets and sophisticated natural-language-processing (NLP) tools that can mine free-text comments from web reviews. In many cases, companies will want to expand the use of such tools to other sources, such as social media, YouTube, video sites (by converting voice to text and then feeding it through the NLP engine), industry-specific chat rooms, return logs, customer-care call logs, and even legal claims. Thanks to recent technological advances, NLP tools now make it easier to identify positive, neutral, and negative sentiment in reviews. They are also better at classifying product attributes and picking up idiosyncrasies, such as the use of jargon, slang, or sarcasm in reviews."

Are Expectations Correct?

Many negative online reviews come from customers who simply didn't get what they were expecting. The way a product or service is marketed may be the biggest factor that leads to people being disappointed. Product or service descriptions may need to be tweaked to ensure that they accurately reflect what you're offering. It's entirely possible that you can provide the exact same product or service and reduce negative reviews if you simply change the way you are presenting them in the first place.

Put More Resources Into Product/Service Improvement

If you are receiving more negative reviews than positive ones, it may simply be that your offering needs to be improved upon. Try putting more resources into product development or figuring out how to provide a better service to your customers. Try adjustments to your team, engaging with focus groups, and analyzing your competition to make your product/service as appealing and satisfying as possible. Feedback from online reviews can also help guide your direction, and as you make improvements, more positive reviews should follow.

Look for Ways to Turn Negatives Into Positives

If you’re monitoring comments about your company, try to respond to negative comments if the customer makes a valid point. Post a simple response like, “We’re sincerely sorry that our product didn’t meet your expectations. We appreciate your feedback and will pass it on to our product development team [or customer service department].” Then, do what you’ve promised and pass it on. 

Negative reviews can be damaging, but consider them a way to help you make your business better. Consider the feedback you're getting, make sure customers are getting what they expect, and always look for ways to improve.




The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank. Nevada State Bank is a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC