We talk a lot about online reviews. We talk about how important they are in influencing buying decisions, how SMBs need to respond to them, and how Google is starting to give more weight to reviews as social signals. But in doing that, we also create a lot of fear around the reviews that exist out there about our businesses. There\u2019s the sense that a single bad review can kill your business. Or that a handful of unhappy customers can send new customers away and ruin your brand in the search engines. And while it\u2019s important for a small business to build an online review strategy, it\u2019s equally important to remember that we\u2019re all human. A few bad reviews won\u2019t kill your business. In fact, those negative reviews may even help. Sound crazy? Below are five ways negative reviews can actually be good for business. 1. They give you legitimacy What would you think when checking out a new business and saw nothing but glowing reviews and five stars? You\u2019d think the reviews were fake. Or paid for. Or written by the business owner\u2019s mother. We don\u2019t trust businesses that appear \u201ctoo good to be true\u201d because we know that we\u2019re all human. We all make mistakes. And we all have bad days. If your online reviews are a true reflection of who you are, they\u2019ll account for some of those bad days. The simple fact is we trust a business more if there are at least some negative reviews because it helps us feel like we\u2019re seeing both sides. We want to know the soup was cold or that the dress didn\u2019t fit. As a consumer, these reviews also help us feel more prepared. If we can see the problem points in the service or product, we can determine whether they\u2019re \u201cdeal breakers\u201d for us. If they\u2019re not, we feel confident making the buying decision. 2. You identify (fixable) weak points As noted above, consumers look for negative reviews to identify weak points in your product or service. Maybe your dresses run small and they should order up. Or maybe your waitresses don\u2019t spend enough time tending your customer\u2019s needs. Consumers value this information so they know what to expect. As a business owner, this is valuable information so you know what to fix. Negative reviews help your business to improve by showing you areas where you can do better. Instead of fearing these types of reviews, welcome them as an unfiltered look into your business. Once you know what\u2019s not working or areas where customers got tripped up, you can solve the problem and make the experience better for everyone. Instead of fearing these comments, thank the people who leave them. 3. You show off your customer service skills Yes, that\u2019s right. I just said you should thank your customers who take the time to let you know where you can do better. This is invaluable information. It also gives you a chance to show off your customer service skills and let onlookers see how much you value your customers. Consumers can tell a lot about a business by how they respond to criticism. If you handle the situation with grace, maturity and (when appropriate) humor, it tells them you\u2019re a business confident in what you offer and how you treat people in business. If you get defensive or argumentative, it tells consumers you\u2019re a business they may want to avoid. So respond wisely. 4. You give your army a chance to respond If someone has left a negative review on your business that you feel is unfair or undeserved, show it to some of your biggest supporters and ask what they think. If they feel the review is warranted, they\u2019ll tell you and then you can fix it. But if they don\u2019t, they\u2019re likely to go respond to that comment for you and help set the record straight. They\u2019ll actually come to your defense and serve as an army of support for your brand. Consumers are passionate about the people and the places they do business with. If they see someone talking badly about \u201ctheir\u201d coffee shop, they\u2019re going to hop into that conversation and fight for you. 5. You can change the conversation As much as we don\u2019t like to see negative comments left about our businesses, they do give you the chance to change the conversation and that person\u2019s experience. By responding maturely, validating the critique, and offering a promise to do better, you can significantly increase someone\u2019s impression of your brand. And, really, if someone is unhappy with your service, don\u2019t you want the chance to make it right? Reviews are important and the more positive reviews you have, the more likely it is a new customer will feel comfortable taking a chance on your business. But negative reviews also have their place and can offer some benefits to any business. Speaking of reviews, the holidays are coming. Have you created your holiday online review strategy? Get crackin\u2019!