Turn your 1-star reviews into 5-star results

We’re just a couple of weeks out from your holiday reprieve, but the next two weeks look to be big for small and local businesses as we get closer and closer to Christmas, so it’s time to keep focused and motivated.

We talk a lot about the impact and importance of reviews for local businesses. We often discuss the risks associated with unmanaged reviews and the impact of a negative review. For example, did you know that one negative review could cost you 30 potential customers? So, while today’s post is on the light-hearted side, reviews, particularly negative reviews, deserve your full attention.

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Today we highlight a few of our favorite examples of businesses flipping the script and using their negative reviews to increase customer loyalty, keep team morale high, and brush off some of the hurt feelings that come to business owners. Bad reviews are inevitable, but how you respond is up to you.

Showing-up the naysayers

Block 16 | Omaha, NE

This Nebraska restaurant transforms its negative Yelp reviews into fun-spirited, dramatic readings. As they put it in their first YouTube video, they love their customers. “It’s the best part about owning a restaurant.” But every business has dissatisfied patrons who leave “mean and sometimes hurtful” feedback.

Why we love it: This is an excellent example of understanding and appreciating the role reviews play in their business. Block 16 could easily ignore these negative reviews and just let the naysayers vent away online or try to debate their differences of opinion. Instead, rather than allowing disgruntled customers run the show, they put on a show of their own. The results: a growing audience, a stronger community, and more customer loyalty.

Going to the extremes


Snowbird Resort | Snowbird, UT

It’s not uncommon for customers to get themselves into something they don’t fully understand. If you’ve ever been to Snowbird Resort, for example, you know that it’s known for advanced runs and backcountry terrain. If you’re new to the resort, and your ski skills aren’t up to snuff, you could mistakenly get into something you’re not ready for. When customers get into situations like this, they often want to blame someone, and that tends to be the business.

Why we love it: Sometimes the very reason people dislike something is the very reason others will love it. Be it hot sauce, crazy-hot yoga, or advanced ski and snowboard terrains, people drawn to the extremes want just that: extreme. Snowbird has turned a sour review into a mission statement, and the results are fantastic. They unify their loyal customer base and set themselves apart from the crowd. More than that, they’ve fixed a communications issue with their clients.

Making dough from negative reviews

The Junction Kitchen & Provisions | Charleston, SC

We’ve highlighted Kimana Littleflower and her “eclectic American” restaurant before as an online reviews success story in a previous post. Her story is so good that we wanted to bring it back.

Kimana is meticulous when it comes to monitoring her online reviews. She knows that maintaining a 4-5 star rating on review sites has a huge impact on her sales and foot traffic. So when those reviews suddenly started to reflect poorly on the restaurant’s popular biscuits and gravy entree—a dish you can’t take lightly when you run a restaurant in the south—she knew she had to uncover the reason why.

Turns out the order of operations in making the biscuit dough was off. Something as simple as adding butter to the mix at a different temperature made all the difference. It was an easy fix, and the reviews turned around.

“I really try to stay on top of my reviews by acknowledging positive reviews and responding to the occasional negative one. You have to take it all in stride and learn from it.”
– Kimana Littleflower

Why we love it: It’s fun to turn a bad review into a fun marketing opportunity, but we love that Junction Kitchen & Provisions took the opportunity that other businesses fear (negative reviews) to improve their business to reinforce customer loyalty. They found the recipe for success in their negative reviews. They could have easily hidden from them, denied them, or chalked the feedback as “bad taste.” They didn’t. They joined the conversation that was already happening and engaged their customers, which they turned the tide of their customer attrition. The result? Raving fans and the best biscuits in the area.

Don’t let them get you down

Most negative reviews don’t come so nicely wrapped for marketing uses. Often, they are from frustrated customers, and they deserve your attention and to be taken seriously. But a bad review isn’t the worst thing that could happen to your business. Hopefully, they are far and few in between, but regardless of their frequency, listening to their legitimate concerns will pay dividends in the future. In fact, 70% of complaining customers will return if you resolve their concerns. That may be out of your hands (it’s not like you can change a mountain terrain) or it may be a matter of tweaking a few things to deliver an entree that’ll knock your socks off. You won’t know if you don’t listen and join the conversation your customers are already having.

Take action

As you comb through and processes your reviews, keep an eye out for reviews that seem negative, but define your business. If you’re a spicy food establishment, a one-star rating because your food is too hot may be the rallying call your best customers are looking for.

Also be sure to check out our post on managing negative online reviews or request a free demo of Womply’s small business software to see how you can manage all your reviews on multiple platforms from one convenient location. We’ll also show you how to automate some of the work that comes with managing reviews so you can protect your reputation without adding to your workload.


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