How to Turn a Negative Customer Review to a Positive One

54 percent shared bad experiences with more than five people while only 33 percent shared their good experiences (source).

This tells us that the chances of a bad word spreading are much higher than of a good word.

With each customer having an audience of their own on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, the impact of a negative review is too significant to ignore.

negative comments on yelp

(Image source)

Nonetheless, negative reviews are not as scary as they seem; with careful strategy and timely action, you can turn your negative reviews around. Here are some tips:

#1. Take the issue offline

When you are looking for prospects, would you not reach out to them in every possible way like Facebook, Twitter, Email and more? It is natural that customers will expect the same from you when you are trying to fix a problem they have.

So, instead of leaving a vague no-use public comment under the negative review, choose to call them up, or mail them and offer to fix the problem. Ask for their feedback and do whatever you can to turn that angry customer into a happy one. Remember that one negative review doesn’t imply the customer is regretting choosing you, you still can fix it and turn things around with them.

And who knows, if you do it well, the same customer might post a positive review.

But don’t forget to leave a public response for the feedback, even though you are dealing with it in real time, because other customers will be reading those feedbacks – infact 88% of the people read online reviews to determine the quality of a business.

And no response from you implies no care to them – not a good impression to leave!

#2. Remember that one man’s negative is another man’s positive

Let’s say you own a restaurant and you get a negative feedback online. Read the feedback carefully, is the customer complaining about lack of cleanliness? Or is he complaining that you have limited items on your menu?

For the former, well you must apologise and fix it, there is no other way, but if it is the latter, understand that you can turn it into a positive thing.

How? Respond to the review and tell them that your restaurant aims to make fewer items, but with excellent quality and that is your brand differentiation.

See what you did? You not only responded to a negative feedback, but you also turned the feedback into brand promotion for your restaurant.

#3. See it as an opportunity to improve your business

Now, sometimes it could be just a grumpy unpleasant customer complaining and you really are not at fault, but other times, in fact, many times you really are at fault.

May be you really did do a bad job, or ignore a customer, or didn’t provide up to the mark product, or may be you are just a very young business and you are still learning; in that case, you must see these feedbacks as an opportunity to build and re-build your business model and values.

Apologize and thank your customers both publicly and personally for giving the feedback and tell them what you are doing to fix it.

At Hiver, our strategy to get traction was to start marketing right away after our first version of the product was ready. We then, collected feedbacks and conducted surveys to improve the product according to customer needs. Infact, it took us 4 versions to get to the perfect one and everytime, we personally conducted phone interviews and surveys to get insights, also giving value to our customers’ opinions helped us gain their loyalty.

So no, negative feedbacks are not as gut-wrenching as people make them sound.

It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience (source).

So, resolve it and use it as a stepping stone to build a better business.

#4. Dilute the impact of the negative reviews

So there is a negative review, and although you tried to fix it, the customer isn’t willing to take it down, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Wait, there is something you can do – garner more positive reviews! If you see that on a particular platform like Yelp, you have a couple of negative reviews but no positive ones, it is time to act.

Ask your loyal and happy customers to leave a word for you online, because positive reviews along side negative ones can dilute the impact of the negative feedback.

Infact, the Chief marketing officer of Trustpilot, Jan Vels Jensen , says that “Research shows that consumers trust reviews more when they see positive reviews alongside negative ones”

So garnering positive reviews can not only diffuse the impact of negative reviews, but it can actually make you look more trustworthy.

Final thoughts

Besides the above mentioned pointers, here are a few more noteworthy takeaways:

  • Always stay polite when responding to negative reviews.
  • If it truly is the customer’s fault, it is okay to correct them, but do so politely.
  • Don’t be rattled by negative feedbacks and stop encouraging feedbacks all together.
  • Learn and move on, don’t consider it as a failure, but as an opportunity to learn.
  • Respond to the feedbacks, but don’t react to them, an improper response can be more disastrous than the negative review itself.
  • Respond to the reviews like a person and not like a organisation.


Author – Niraj Ranjan Rout

Niraj is the founder of Hiver (, an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool.

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