Business Owners — Look For Patterns in Your Online Reviews — And Change

It’s easy to brush off or even ignore poor online reviews? But if there are patterns in these reviews, maybe it’s YOU who needs to change.

Do Online Reviews Matter?

Yes, online review matter to potential customers. They’ll read bad and good reviews to get a feel for how you respond and whether or not the sizing is correct if you’re a clothing brand, have bugs if you’re a SaaS company, or poor service if you’re a coffee shop.

Why Should My Small Business Care About Bad Reviews More than Good Reviews?

Small businesses live and die on word-of-mouth referrals – this includes social media and search. So Suzie tells me that I must go to Chimichurri Palace for their Argentinan Steak, and I look it up. You do the same. 

When I read that the Chimichurri Palace has repeated issues with their reservations or that the Chimichurri sauce isn’t authentic, well, then I take pause while considering Suzie’s recommendation. Maybe she doesn’t know what’s authentic. 

As a business owner, looking at patterns in words used in negative reviews helps you spot problems in the way your business operates. It may give you insight into servers’ attitudes. Maybe all of the negative reviews are on Thursday nights when Brad is working. 

You get the point.

Watch the video to see more

When’s the last time you read your online reviews looking for patterns?

When’s the last time you used that insight to change your business for the better?

Key Highlights

00:02: Intro

01:11: Read your worst reviews and track word counts. 

02:58: What are the commonalities in your reviews? 

04:11: Does your website help manage expectations or create gaps in expectations?

04:49: How does a client know what it’s like to work with you?

05:49: “What if that [negative review] is true? What on Yelp is true? What on Trustpilot is true?”

06:31: But as business owners, we should do as much as we can as far as it has to do with our side of the street, with how we present ourselves, with the expectations that we have to communicate in a way that has hospitality, joy, honor, integrity, and, and quite frankly, that all boils down to respecting our customer.

Raw Transcript


Hi, Bridget Willard here. I just wanted to have a chat with you real quick about online reviews. First of all, when is the last time that you, as a small business owner, went and left a review for another small business? Uh, whether it’s a supplier, a vendor, um, a colleague, a new restaurant in town, um, possibly even your competitor, like what. That’s some intellectual integrity right there, right? So the thing is that reviews are a big deal, and it’s so hard to get positive reviews because we are really quick to add a review when we’re upset. This place has bedbugs. There was a snail in my escargot. <Laugh> You know what I mean, like something extreme? Or you have the three-star Yelpers who wouldn’t be happy if they won a million dollars because you didn’t give ’em to ’em, give it to them in twenty-dollar bills.


<laugh>. So the thing is reading your reviews with a grain of salt, but read the worst ones. Read the worst ones with a notebook and start writing down. Like, you know, it’s, I have notebooks. I have several notebooks right here in my, in my office to go. I got this one says, “some people dream of success while others wake up and work hard at it,” “doing my best,” whatever it takes. I have a book with you, I really like. You know, people in all their notebooks. And like, it doesn’t, this is from CVS, it’s not that big of a deal. But like one, one thing that’s good about it is this, which means it lays flat. It is small enough to be in your purse, briefcase, backpack, and you could just go, okay. So I would write down, for example, with a pen, I would take it down and be like, okay, what’s the first thing in this bad review is, uh, “rude.” Okay? Like, that’s a word that’s being used. And then read through all the other reviews and just start tallying it up like it’s your domino score. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. How many times did somebody say in your online reviews that they had it, that someone was “rude” or “bad service” or, uh, “TV doesn’t work?”


Or, um, like it’s common with restaurants, right? Um, or in hospitality industry to, to have these. But there, there will be reviews, um, written online, uh, if you’re big enough, uh, maybe they’re on Glassdoor.


Uh, if you’re in travel, it could be on Expedia,, those kind of marketplaces. It could be a book, uh, like the book that Warren and I wrote, “The Only Online Marketing Book You Need for Your Small Business,” which is on Amazon. Um, and maybe, maybe once you get into the two to three stars range, maybe it’s just lackluster. What things are, where are the commonalities in those? So bad review, people have distinct opinions; good review, people have distinct opinions. The people in the middle kind of get passed off. Like, well, they were, they had ridiculous expectations. Here’s where I am asking you to participate in your own business and your own business marketing. Is 10% of that true? 20%? 30%? How much of what that online review said is true? And if so, how much of that is in your control to fix it?


For example, we manage expectations with the copy we put on our websites. This is why, for example, I have public-facing pricing that’s transparent. It’s right there on slash pricing. You’ll see my pricing, you’ll see what it includes. I don’t believe in this kind of shell game that a lot of marketers do. Well, it depends. Yeah, it depends. And you just add ’em all up. <laugh> You know, of course I could do custom pricing and I have, and I do. But what, what is that expectation?


When it comes to being a WordPress developer? What is it gonna look like for them to work with you? Um, what is your process? How do you bill and in what increments? Are you like a lawyer and every time you get an email, that’s a 15 minute charge? You know? And, and then if you see that happening as a web developer, why, why are you not pushing that client onto a care plan? First of all, the, that gives you predictable income and it also helps them get the things done.


You know? It’s not. Clients don’t write wire frames and organize their content. This is why we have jobs, y’all. I write content. You put it on the website. They get customers. This is what we do as writers and WordPress developers, right? Marketers. Copywriters, I should say ’cause I’m not a novelist. <Laugh>


So the thing is like, what if that is true? What on Yelp is true? What on Trustpilot is true? What in your previous, when you were an employee, what in those performance reviews is true? And is any of that being, uh, is any of that carried over to your new business? To how you deal with clients? Do you think that they should know? Are you upset when they do X, Y, and Z? You know what of that is something that we <laugh> as business owners need to take to our therapist? And how much is it that the client is being difficult?


Sometimes difficulty with clients means the underlying situation is there is a lack of communication or in <laugh>, Cool Hand Luke, “what we have here is a failure to communicate.” So communication, some of it’s on them, some of it’s on us. But as business owners, we should do as much as we can as far as it has to do with our side of the street, with how we present ourselves, with the expectations that we have to communicate in a way that has hospitality, joy, honor, integrity, and, and quite frankly, that all boils down to respecting our customer.


So if you like this video, share it with your friends. Uh, if you don’t like it, press thumbs up twice. <laugh> I’m back to doing videos. Uh, the, the farm partnership didn’t work out. That’s okay because I tried and I love chickens. I can’t wait to buy a house and have chickens. Uh, for now I just have a cat. Where are you cat? Meow. Meow. There he is, <laugh>. So thanks for tuning in. I would love to answer any of your marketing questions. Drop me a line. See you on the next one.