Negative reviews for our business on Google are often beyond our control, and the frustration that comes from them is unmistakable. A sore spot on our coveted collection of positive reviews, it feels like even one brings down all of our efforts and exposes us to the scrutiny of potential clients researching our brand. But all is not lost, because even a few negative reviews over time can be an annoyance but not a complete detriment, if handled appropriately. We conducted a survey via Mechanical Turk asking 250 participants several questions about how they research and perceive negative reviews.

Survey Results

How important to respond to negative reviews?

Average 6.49
Median 7
Mode 7
Weighted 6.8

Unless the review is clearly spam or bogus, most businesses will get negative reviews over time. Since we don’t typically want our reviews on Google (or really anywhere) to be less than 4.2, and absolutely never below 3.8, anything 3 or lower could be considered a negative review. “Responses from the owner” are crucial in this instance, since you’re able to have your response to the review pegged just below. This not only encourages the person that left the response to open a correspondence for how you can find a solution to their issue, but will give other browsers the opportunity to see that you made an effort to address their concerns.

How important to respond to positive reviews?

Average 6.25
Median 6.5
Mode 7
Weighted 6.55

Not as weighted as responding to negative reviews, but having surprisingly more weight than anticipated, responding to positive reviews again shows that you put in the effort to be grateful for positive reviews and possibly give a humanizing element of your business socially.

How likely you go straight to negative review on a profile?

Average 6.38
Median 7
Mode 10
Weighted 7.65

As expected, most respondents answered 10 from a 1-10 scale. It’s the same way we can’t look away from a car crash, we want to see what warranted negative reviews for a business. This is what confirms how important it is that we put in the time to respond to negative reviews so people researching our business know the full scope of the incident that garnered such negativity.

Is a 4.6 about as equal to a 5.0 because businesses naturally can’t make everyone happy?

Average 7.28
Median 8
Mode 9
Weighted 8.01

This question was somewhat more self-serving because of how I worded it (my wording somewhat nudged respondents into agreement), but I wanted to confirm that business owners don’t have to be completely hung up on have a perfect 5.0 rating. In many conversations and surveys I’ve done in the past, a perfect rating almost seems “too” perfect, and leaves a level of suspicion from those researching the business as to how they couldn’t have generated even several 4 star reviews. I would never encourage anyone to attempt to get anything less than 5 stars for this reason, but I also wouldn’t encourage a business owner to expend resources and time to get an outstanding rating of 4.8 painstakingly higher.

How should a business be responding to negative reviews?

Apology 117
Explanation 109
Acknowledgement 98
Invitation 49

Lastly, the approach to the negative review response is extremely important – we asked to pick the top 2 ways a business should respond to a negative review, which you can see above:

• Opting to simply provide a sincere apology
• Explaining why the service/product may not have met the standards or expectations of the customer
• Acknowledging that the service/product may not have had the desired outcome/result
• Invitation to speak directly with the business manager or owner

Though the invitation seems to be the most direct, involved method of rectifying the review, it is by far the least desirable approach according to the respondents. Much like the ease of leaving the review, obtaining a resolution should be just as effortless.

So, How Should I Handle Negative Reviews?

The best method (which we would corroborate working with our own clients) would be to explain the situation (so other readers can get the preface and understand how you handle unideal situations) and then apologize (to find a resolution) in one response. Ignoring negative reviews could hurt prospective clients’ perception about your firm even further.

Tips for Obtaining 5-Star Reviews from Clients

It can often be a hassle to get your loyal clients to leave you a shining review on even a single platform. We’ve helped several clients obtain great reviews from some of their best clients, and have written extensively on the subject. If you’re interested in getting more reviews from those with whom you have a great business relationship, check out some of our blogs about getting more reviews:

Market My Market’s Legal Marketing Workshop for Generating 5-Star Reviews

How Do People Prefer to Receive Review Requests?

10 Reasons Most Companies Fail at Getting 5-Star Reviews

Let Us Help You Boost your Review Average

It’s no question that people who seek your services highly value the reviews they read on popular platforms like Google, Facebook, Yelp, and online legal directories like Avvo, Justia and FindLaw. If you’re not getting enough reviews or aren’t sure how to get 5-star reviews from your best clients, our team of digital marketing experts can implement review generation strategies that make it easy to reach out to past clients who were happy with your work.

Our goal is to help you stand out from your competition by strengthening your online credibility, and generating reviews is just one of many options. Learn more about our review generation service by contacting us for a free consultation.