5 Strategies to Turn Negative Reviews into Positive Brand Advocacy

Turn Negative Reviews into Positive Reviews
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Many people check out online reviews before making a purchase. In fact, 9 out of 10 customers read them. However, if all the reviews they find are overwhelmingly positive, they can see them as fake or staged, leading to decreased trust in the company. While it may be tempting to remove negative reviews, handling them appropriately can actually boost brand advocacy. Here are 5 proven strategies how to turn negative reviews into positive brand advocacy:

1. Respond quickly and sincerely

Nobody enjoys waiting, nor do they appreciate receiving robotic responses after complaining. People appreciate being heard. In other words, you need to show the reviewer you care by responding quickly and apologizing for the mistake. It’s also important to be genuine and explain what you’re doing to fix the problem.

Generally, responses taking longer than 48 hours might be seen as neglectful or dismissive by the customer. It can also give the impression that negative feedback isn’t taken seriously. While a 24-hour response is ideal, it’s okay if your response falls outside of regular business hours as long as it’s within the 48-hour window.

A slow or dismissive response can anger the customer further and push them to vent their frustration on social media or other public platforms. This, in turn, can damage your brand reputation and reach a wider audience.

2. Offer solutions, not excuses

A natural response to negativity is often to get defensive. However, this approach won’t get you far. To turn the negative reviews into positive brand advocacy, try to acknowledge the problem and offer a solution that benefits the customer. This could be a discount, a free product, or simply going the extra mile to fix their issue.

Before formulating any response, it’s important to realize that when a customer leaves a negative review, they’re looking for a solution, not excuses. Explaining why something went wrong might be understandable, but it doesn’t solve their current problem.

Sometimes, a one-size-fits-all solution might not work. Consequently, strive to be open to discussing options with the customer to find a solution that works best for them.


  • Negative Review: “My order arrived broken and took forever to get here.”
  • Excuse: “We’re sorry, but shipping delays are out of our control sometimes.”
  • Solution: “We sincerely apologize for the damaged item and the delay. We’ve already issued a full refund and expedited a replacement that will be delivered within 24 hours.”

3. Learn from the feedback

While negative reviews can be frustrating, they offer a valuable opportunity for positive growth and improvement. They act as a direct line to your customers, highlighting areas where you might be falling short. By analyzing this feedback, you can identify weaknesses and take steps to address them.

To learn effectively from feedback, first start by grouping the reviews by common themes or complaints. This helps identify recurring issues and areas that need the most attention. Secondly, don’t just focus on the symptom (the complaint). Dig deeper to understand the underlying cause of the problem. Finally, based on your analysis, create specific action plans to improve or solve the issue.

For example, after several complaints about slow checkout times, an online store might add more payment options or streamline its checkout process.

Remember: Negative reviews are a learning opportunity, not a personal attack.

4. Take the conversation offline

Sometimes, complex issues are best discussed in private. When dealing with a negative review, this means moving the conversation away from the public platform where it was posted (like a review website or social media).

To turn a negative review into positive brand advocacy with this method, you can briefly thank the customer for their feedback and apologize for the inconvenience. Then let the customer know you’d like to discuss the issue further and offer them a way to contact you directly (like email or phone).

Taking the conversation offline shows that the business is genuinely interested in resolving the issue and protects both parties’ privacy. It’s a way to move from a public complaint to a more productive one-on-one interaction.


  • Customer Review: “My order never arrived, and customer service hasn’t been helpful.”
  • Business Response: “We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused by the missing order. We’d like to discuss this further and find a solution for you. Could you please send us an email at [email protected] so we can assist you better?”

5. Turn negative reviews into positive reviews

Once you’ve resolved the issue, consider reaching out to the customer later and ask if they’re happy with the resolution. You can even encourage them to share a positive review about their experience.

“A happy ending” to a complaint can easily replace the negativity from the previous review. On top of that, the fact that you fix problems shows potential customers you take complaints seriously and work to make things right. Moreover, people trust businesses that listen and fix mistakes. To put it differently, positive follow-ups show you’re one of those businesses.

Example Email After Resolved Issue: “Hi Sarah, thanks for letting us know about your recent experience. We’re glad we could resolve the issue for you! We appreciate your patience and understanding. As a token of our appreciation, we’d like to offer you a 10% discount on your next purchase. You can also share your experience with others by leaving us a review on [link to review page].”

Final thoughts on how to turn negative reviews into positive brand advocacy

Turning negative reviews into positive brand advocacy might seem subjectively hard but it’s certainly attainable. After all, they are a chance to improve and show that you truly care about your customers. In other words, you can use them to make your business better and customers happier.

By following the solutions described above, you can turn a negative experience into a positive one and make your customers happy. Remember, happy customers are loyal customers, and loyal customers are the best kind of advertising!

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Ross Jenkins

Ross Jenkins

Ross Jenkins is the founder of DigitalME and is an ActiveCampaign Certified Consultant. He is ranked #1 on UpWork for his proficiency in digital marketing. DigitalME offers targeted digital solutions and is perfect for anyone who wants to increase leads, sales, and productivity through automation.