Reviews: Minimize Negative and Maximize Positive

Did you know that reviews left on your Google My Business (GMB) page, Facebook Business page, Yelp, or other directories can either enhance your business or lead to your eventual downfall? You can boost your business by 10% with just five positive reviews on GMB; on the other hand, one really negative review can cost your business tens of thousands of dollars (a). Reviews are that critical. Word of mouth reviews have transformed into online reviews. Also, let’s not forget to mention that negative reviews are much easier for people to leave online considering there’s no actual human interaction. So, with that said, how do we minimize negative reviews and maximize positive reviews and customer testimonials?

Negative reviews can impact your social media and web traffic, but they don’t have to be detrimental. One way to improve your experience with negative reviews, and even minimize them in the future, is by taking the time to respond to the commenter. Your goal should always be to provide the best possible customer experience, no matter the circumstances. So, responding to a negative review in a professional and polite manner while addressing the concerns of the individual can potentially turn an unhappy customer into a happy customer.


“I went into this store today and was treated very poorly by one of the employees. The customer service is absolutely terrible. It’s too bad because I love the products this store sells, but I will not tolerate being treated that way. I highly recommend no one go to this store—you can find one similar enough elsewhere. It’s not worth going if they are going to treat you so disrespectfully.”
– Anonymous

As you can tell from this hypothetical example, this made-up person is very unhappy with her experience at the store she visited. Now, how should the business respond to this individual? Let’s look at a couple examples:

Anonymous, we’re very sorry to hear you had a negative experience in our store recently. We’d like to further discuss this incident with you. If you could call or email us, and provide us with more information about the employee you interacted with, we’d greatly appreciate it! We would also like to offer you a 10% discount on any item in our store. Again, we’re very sorry you feel that you were disrespected by one of our employees—we have zero tolerance for poor customer service. We hope you accept our sincerest apology.


Anonymous, we’re very sorry to hear you had a negative experience in our store recently. We have zero tolerance for poor customer service and will address this with that particular employee immediately. If you could call or email us, and provide us with more information about the employee you interacted with, we’d greatly appreciate it! We hope you accept our sincerest apology.

Again, your goal should be to provide the best customer experience possible. So, if you have an unhappy customer complaining online about a poor experience she had with one of your employees, you should acknowledge her concerns and offer her something in return (whether it be a small discount, for example, or a sincere apology); in most cases, you want the customer to come back. In some cases, you’ll have customers who aren’t going to be happy no matter what. You could provide them with the best customer service ever and they still will find something to complain about. In these cases, acknowledging their concerns in a polite and professional manner will suffice. What you DO NOT want to do is fight back, especially online where you’re on display. People love reading online reviews and determine whether or not they’re going to use your business based on the reviews they read. It’s important to keep in mind that many potential customers are reading reviews as well as your responses. Not only is your response directed to an unhappy customer, but in a way, it’s directed towards all previous or potential customers. Don’t forget who your audience is!

Tell the customer you’re very sorry and that you want to provide them with the best possible experience. Your response should reinforce your brand’s customer service values and communicate that you’re going to address their complaints ASAP. Remember, humility and humanity are important here. Sometimes, customers just need to be reminded that we’re all human–we all have bad days and make mistakes.

Now, how do we minimize future negative reviews and maximize positive ones?

The answer is simple, really–address issues with customers immediately when they arise, especially in person. People are way less likely to post negative reviews when issues have been resolved quickly. Taking immediate action makes the individual with a complaint feel important.

As far as maximizing positive reviews, you can do many things but here are some of our favorite tips:

  1. Invite or encourage customers to leave positive reviews–create an incentive for them!
  2. Simply ask for a positive review as a favor if you know you have a satisfied customer
  3. Ask for reviews on receipts
  4. Re-target past customers by reaching out via social media or email and ask them for positive feedback
  5. Simplify the process for them–ask customers to leave a review on one platform in particular (GMB, Facebook, Yelp, etc.)–this decreases the amount of decisions customers have to make

Apply these 5 simple tips and you’ll drive your online ratings up very quickly! At the end of the day, people just want to be listened to and respected. We’re all human. If we treat each other with respect, we should come to mutual agreements and understandings much quicker.


(a) Luca, M. (2016). Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of Harvard Business School. Retrieved from Files/12-016_a7e4a5a2-03f9-490d b093-8f951238dba2.pdf.

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