Bad reviews are a huge opportunity, not a problem

by Branding, Business growth, Communications, Online reviews

In any service or retail business, online reviews from customers are valuable because they generate new business. But people often forget they do something else too: they provide concrete material on which to base improvements to your services.

This can backfire if you don’t engage with your reviewers when they mention something negative, and so you have to listen and be open to finding new ways of being better. You can’t be defensive.

In a busy practice with a hundred other things to do this might be a challenge, but there is a massive windfall here: making a big deal about reviews is the most powerful internal marketing lever you can pull. It’s also free. This is what you do:

  • highlight salient feedback in your morning huddle
  • invite discussion
  • check someone has owned whatever is agreed

When this is part of business as usual you’ll notice the team embodies the moral imperative to be better. This insulates your brand from the excuses / avoidance / defensiveness that are otherwise the default position for employees / associates who don’t feel responsible for the whole customer journey.

(This is normal, and it’s your job to make them feel pride in your brand. To give you an example, I was in B&Q recently and asked two members of staff on the shop floor where the butane canisters were. Both said they didn’t know and were prepared to leave it at that. They were very young and it was their first day — which they both offered as a reason for not being able to help. It was a reminder of how far retail customer service has come: ask where something is in any supermarket now and the staff member will drop what they are doing and personally escort you, or find a colleague who can.)

Then there’s the more obvious advantage of online reviews: they generate new business. Research by BrightLocal found that in 2017:

  • 85% of consumers trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • positive reviews made 73% of consumers trust a local business more
  • 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they used a business

The research also found that 68% of consumers left a local business review when asked. So after every patient has an appointment, email them a customer satisfaction survey. Bad reviews are a huge opportunity, not a problem. Good reviews are a bonus. And they can be really very good — like this one our client shared with us.

Best wishes


JJF 10

“Actioning feedback insulates your brand from excuses, avoidance and defensiveness”

JJF, managing director
Author: Jonathan Fine