Nobody likes to hear negative things about their company online, but the fact is that when people have negative experiences, they want to talk about it. And with so much activity happening online, especially in retail, there are lots of places for this feedback to show up. Your gut instinct might be to delete anything negative. Don’t.


Negative feedback isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and companies shouldn’t rush to cover it up. Here are several ways to see the positive in negative reviews.

1. Right a wrong for your customer in front of other customers.

Let’s face it – even the best companies make mistakes. A colleague at MP&F recently had his luggage lost on the front-end of a vacation, and he lost a day of his trip because of it. He used Twitter to get the attention of the airlines in an effort to find his bags faster. The airline responded and the bags were located and delivered. He tweeted about the resolution for his followers to see. Had the airline deleted the Tweet or ignored him, all that would have remained was his comment about his bags being lost.

2. Learn from the reviews and gather feedback.

There are services out there to help quantify and act on customer feedback. Bazaarvoice, which provides intelligence about customer behavior to online retailers on a large scale, offers a service to map keyword data to identify repeat product complaints. Retailers can then choose to react to this data, modifying their products accordingly. Even on a small scale, listen to customer complaints. If the same issues come up over and over again, perhaps it’s time to make a change to your product or service.

3. Develop a dialog with customers.

A hotel client who offers in-room wifi to guests for a fee sometimes receives complaints about the cost. Even though the hotel can’t (and shouldn’t) alter its policy for any guest who complains about a price on Twitter, acknowledging the tweet and reminding the guest that free wifi is offered in hotel public spaces (lobbies), usually diffuses the situation. Instead of more angry tweets the guest typically thanks the hotel for the info and moves on.

4. Show you’re listening.

Not all complaints can be dealt with publicly, so know when to take it offline. A client recently had a disgruntled customer post publicly on their Facebook wall about a Memorial Day sale. As a retired member of the armed forces, this person thought it was disrespectful to tie a retail event (sale) to a somber holiday like Memorial Day. The retailer set up a call with the customer, who felt their concern had been heard, and that was the end of it.

In the end, dealing with negative reviews is about having the right attitude and being transparent. The first step is putting yourself in the shoes of the customer, then be honest and try to right the wrong. Imagine what would happen if you didn’t have these platforms to gather feedback? In some ways, it’s more of a benefit for companies to read consumer reviews than it is for customers to leave them. Having the feedback allows companies to fix little problems before they become big ones.