Too good to be true: why a negative review could be exactly what your business needs 


With more Australians turning to ratings and review sites to help them make purchase decisions, it is imperative that businesses have a strategy for responding to negative reviews.

Why bad reviews aren’t so bad

A negative review isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it can also provide businesses with an opportunity to develop the business model. Research conducted by True Local has found that negative business reviews can be good for business, with two-thirds (66%) of Australians questioning the credibility of a business that only has positive reviews.

The research also found that Australians are more than prepared to forgive a negative review and acknowledge that businesses, as well as people can have a bad day.

Small businesses have an opportunity to build trust with consumers through reviews, with nine in 10 Australians admitting they would feel more positively about a business that has responded to negative reviews, in an attempt to solve the problem. Over half also said they’d be open to changing their opinion of a business that responds to their negative feedback on social media.

Five steps for responding to a negative review

As responses are visible to both existing and potential customers, it’s always important to be conscious of the approach taken when replying to feedback. A business must consider that a customer usually takes the time to share feedback in the hope it will help to improve the business, and overall experience for other customers in the future.

If a business receives a negative review, this can be used as an opportunity to create a dialogue, address any product or service concerns and regain trust. Businesses should be polite and professional at all times and outwardly show they understand the customer’s point of view.

When responding to negative reviews, there are five crucial steps to take:

  1. An introduction goes a long way – the person responding on behalf of a business should provide a name and business title to show customers that real people work there – this will make the process more personalised and conversational.
  2. Thank the reviewer for providing feedback.
  3. Apologise to the customer for the fact that the experience didn’t meet their expectations. Acknowledge the issue and let the reviewer know the business will attempt to rectify the situation to ensure it doesn’t happen again in future.
  4. Take it offline – to stop the issue from escalating in public, provide a direct email address so that the customer can email privately to discuss the matter further.
  5. Follow up with the customer – always check in with the customer to make sure they have been satisfied with the response to their review.
Building trust with your customers

In 2017, businesses should focus on building a presence on ratings and review sites that take the legitimacy of reviews very seriously.

For example, True Local has a very stringent process when it comes to the reviews on the site. To leave a review on the website, you have to be a registered user.

True Local also uses a combination of fraud monitoring technology and trained human moderation teams. The anti-fraud technology process includes up to 100 checks to make sure a review isn’t fake, looking to see whether it has come from a suspicious IP, or an email address that is associated with the business.

A negative review online can be unsettling for many businesses but reviews –  negative or positive – enable businesses to reach new audiences, create a strong online reputation, and gain invaluable real-time feedback to help to improve a service or product and distinguish themselves from competitors.

Don’t be scared of a bad review. As the world becomes more digitally-focused, businesses must adapt and change attitudes towards engaging with customers online.


About the author

TollidayRobert Tolliday is the general manager of online local business directory True Local, the ratings and reviews website used by millions of Australians to discover and experience all things local since 2006.