Turning Negative Reviews Into Positive Customer Experiences

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We know that no one wants to have a negative review on their site (ideally, every product and customer experience would be 5 star). And while it is tempting to reject negative reviews, research shows that they are as important to have on your website as are the positive reviews.

82% of shoppers are seeking out negative reviews, and for those under 45, this number jumps up to 86%. Shoppers know that every item can’t be the newest, the fastest, then cheapest and the highest quality.

There are a few other reasons to keep negative reviews on your site. First, allowing negative reviews adds authenticity to your review content and shows potential customers that reviews are authentic, which in turn builds their trust in your company. Second, customers look for balanced feedback on products and services to make buying decisions. Sometimes a negative review can even lead to a buying decision as one person’s negative is a positive decision making factor for another consumer. Finally, negative reviews provide valuable feedback about your products, which you can then use to make improvements (more on this topic later).

Rather than running from these negative reviews, we recommend using them as an opportunity to communicate and engage with your customers. Below are some suggestions to think about when engaging with a customer regarding their negative feedback:

1)  Empathize with the customer’s frustration

2)  Thank the customer for their feedback and let them know that you value their input

3)  Provide customer care phone number

4)  Offer to let the customer return the item for a refund or exchange

5)  Address a question or concern the customer has

We recommend using one or both of the following methods for responding to customers.

Option one: Post a public reply to the review

Posting a response shows customers you are listening to them and that you care about your products. This is particularly useful when a product defect or feature has been (or is in the process of being) fixed.

Option Two: Respond to negative reviews via email

By directly reaching out to an unsatisfied customer, you are creating a more personal interaction and can quickly resolve issues while creating goodwill. The one downside of this option is that if you only respond to the customer directly, you are missing out on the opportunity for other customers to see your response. Please also note that a review response email program requires that you capture an email address during the review process.

It’s beneficial to define a strategy around responding to negative (or positive) reviews on your site.  While we recommend using this opportunity to address customers and acknowledge their feedback, we don’t feel it is necessary to respond to every negative review on your site. Understanding which reviews require a response, what your timing and solutions for response will be, along with the response itself are all important components of a merchant response program.

Walker Sands PowerReviews Study


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