Guest Blog: Are Bad Reviews Always Bad for Business?

Why would you want to read negative reviews of your product or business? New marketing research from Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center and Power Reviews shows that a few bad reviews actually help boost sales.

Rocco Cipriani

While this may seem illogical, the reasoning behind it makes perfect sense. Seeing a mix of positive reviews, mixed in with a few negative “real world” reviews, will make your business appear more legitimate and realistic. After all, nobody is perfect all the time and credible truthful reviews give customers more confidence in the honesty and integrity of your company.

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Consumers today are skeptical of seeing a site with only 5-star reviews because many companies have resorted to padding their reviews with fake top ratings. Today’s consumer realizes that experiences are subjective and one person’s bad review does not automatically mean they will have the same negative experience.

Social media has become an important marketing tool for many businesses, and it would be wise to encourage customers to post reviews. To facilitate these interactions, make sure you have created accurate and up-to-date profiles on the major review sites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor, but also on all the major social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Make it easy to find and review your business on a variety of social media platforms, which will also make it easier to find your business in all the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.

That said, a less-than-satisfied customer should always be addressed right away. Here are a few tips on how to handle these scenarios:

  • Acknowledge the grievance and admit if a mistake was made: Most review sites give the business the opportunity to respond to a negative review in a public forum. A negative review should be seen as an opportunity to tell your side of the story and to demonstrate how you resolve a customer’s issue. Sometimes a negative review is a wake-up call to let you know where your business needs to improve.
  • Respond right away: The longer a negative review is left unaddressed, the longer the unsatisfied customer has to spread his/her opinions to others. Make sure that you set up automated notifications on your review sites and social media pages and have someone monitoring them.
  • Write a personal response and offer a two-way dialogue: You should always thank the customer who took the time to post their feedback. A well-written, respectful response to criticism can show potential customers that you are responsive and willing to go the extra mile in customer service. You can offer a chance to speak to the customer in real-time to ensure that the issue has been resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.
  • Offer some reimbursement: To offset a customer’s negative experience, offer them a free sample, discount, or a refund if applicable. This gives them the opportunity to give your business another chance, and gives you the opportunity to address and resolve their issue. You may even be able to change the negative opinion of your reviewer into a positive one.

Reviews are important and the more reviews you have, the more likely it is a new customer will feel comfortable taking a chance on your business, especially if the majority of reviews are positive. So do find ways to encourage customers to post reviews and encourage honest and open feedback. Remember though, that even a less-than-stellar review can be good for your business, as it gives you authenticity and the opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.


Rocco Cipriano is the President and Founder of InSight Marketing, a marketing consulting firm based in Harrison, NY. Rocco is a seasoned marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the fields of advertising, marketing and graphic design.

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