Your company needs negative reviews. But why?

Are you working hard to earn great reviews for your business? If so, then you are not alone. Most companies aim to get as many five-star ratings as possible. And that’s logical too.

Go to a restaurant you’ve never tried before, or download an app, what’s the first thing you do before you buy something online? You probably check the reviews. If they are bad, you probably do not buy an item or try another restaurant. But if they are positive, you will probably try it. So you have to do everything in your power to try to get five-star evaluations and avoid negative evaluations, right? Well, actually not.

Believe it or not, earning perfect reviews is not critical to your business. Negative reviews can even help your business in a way that you might never have expected. Here are some reasons why negative reviews can be positive for your business.

The importance of negative reviews and how they can help your company grow

For the digital age, we all trusted our friends and family for testimonials. But now we rely on so many other factors to make our final decision.

Now it appears that reliable ratings have a greater impact on online purchase decisions than family and friends for 68% of US customers. Recommendations from friends and family only affect 42% of consumers. Reward programs, brand reputation and reliable online reviews have taken the place of good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth. A 2017 study from Power Reviews reaffirms that consumers are becoming increasingly dependent on ratings and ratings. Today, 97% of consumers read product reviews before making a purchase decision. 89% of those surveyed regard online evaluations as an essential tool in the process.

On the other hand, 85% of consumers are looking for negative reviews to make informed purchasing decisions. And that number rises to 91% among consumers between 18 and 29 years. Why? Poor reviews give customers a sense of ‘worst-case scenario’. They absolutely want to know what can go wrong, to know how important it is for them.

Too many positive reviews may seem fake for some customers, so you have to be careful. But how do consumers determine whether a review is truly authentic and reliable? A BrightLocal study shows that Facebook and Yelp are the two most trusted sources of feedback for local searches. Google comes in third.

Of all these platforms, Yelp seems to have the strictest rules and regulations. This explains the fact that the average reviews score on Yelp is 3.65, the lowest out of all these platforms. The average ratings on the other major platforms are 4.42 on Facebook, 4.3 on Google and 4.25 on Tripadvisor. That is why Yelp is perhaps the most reliable place to analyze reviews. And these assessments are important for your operating result. An additional star on Yelp translates into a sales growth of 5% to 9% which is an impressive but dangerous correlation.

Reviews can really make or break the growth of your brand. But on every platform you will inevitably receive some negative reviews. So, how do you react to this?

Prepare a plan before you respond to negativity

The way in which a company deals with a negative assessment can tell a lot about them. So: no panic. Do not ignore them. On the contrary, embrace them. Some brands like Wendy’s even use negative reviews as an opportunity to go viral on social media.

However you choose to embrace negative reviews, you should come up with a plan before you answer anything. But customers expect companies to respond quickly to their assessments. 51.7% of consumers expect a response to their negative assessment within seven days. So if you happen to receive a negative review, you must act quickly. Being aware of complaints from your customers should be your priority in terms of customer service.

The first thing to keep in mind is that not all negative reviews are valuable. There are two types of negative ratings. The first type is reviews of disappointed customers, who really had a negative experience. And then there are the ‘trolls’ that seek attention and possibly monetary gain. This is the second type. Some people want to take advantage of the leverage of a bad review by blackmailing or threatening you if you do not give them a refund. And you can not protect your company from trolling.

In contrast, constructive feedback is a gold mine for every company. It is a form of valuable, direct, educational feedback from the most relevant people for your company, namely your customers. And a negative assessment will only remain negative if you ignore it and never deal with it. So it is important to distinguish yourself from companies that choose to ignore them. Determine a communication strategy that fits your brand identity and tone of voice. Try to keep it consistent on all platforms.

Whichever way you choose, make sure you remain sincere. Do not reply with a template. Take the time to actually investigate each problem and respond accordingly. Make use of any negative comments to show your customers that you care about them.

Rich reviews ensure commitment and people stay longer on the site. Poor reviews are a brilliant way to show that, if something goes wrong, you have credibility in how you deal with the issue.

Bad ratings improve your conversion rates

If your company only receives positive ratings, consumers may wonder if these ratings are real. Not everyone will, but those who are more critical are probably. And with so many fake and paid reviews circulating on nearly every review platform, this becomes a real problem.

The ‘false positive reviews’ problem of Amazon has grown enormously in a short period of time. Since the average rating has increased, the average review weight takes a big dive. There are even Facebook groups that encourage people to write fake reviews for Amazon products.

On the other hand, a healthy mix of both positive and negative ratings will help you build trust in your business faster. A study by the Spiegel Research Center of Northwestern University showed that the probability that someone buys a product with five ratings is 270% greater than with a product without assessments. And a mix of good and bad is useful, so you do not fall into the “too good to be true” category.

So, what is a healthy mix of good and bad reviews? How many bad reviews will your conversion rates increase instead of deterring customers? Between 4.2 and 4.5 stars is an ideal average . More stars is not equal to more sales. When your positive reviews appear along with a few negative reviews, you reduce the skepticism of the buyer. But of course you do not want to be with too low an average. Many customers use rating filters to simplify their searches, so you may not even appear when searching for products if your average is less than four stars.

Negative reviews show your human side

Negative reviews are a perfect phase to shine as a company with top-notch customer service. It is a chance to show that there are real people behind your company. Customer service is not just about helping with a purchase. It concerns solving problems before, during or after a purchase and prevent them from occurring again.

Responding to negative reviews helps to bring your current customers back for more. It is a good idea to respond to all assessments – both good and bad. On the one hand, negative reviews give your company the chance to show its human side. On the other hand, responding to positive reviews will help you show appreciation for your satisfied customers, whose long-term reviews are the most important. The biggest challenge to respond to every review is that you can receive an overwhelming amount of reviews. Very often it requires a complete team of customer service heroes to handle reviews on all channels. And all your customer service representatives need to know how to respond. Here are some essential tips when responding to negative reviews:

1. Go to the core of the problem. Always try to verify what the reviewer says by doing internal research with your employees. You always want to understand what has happened.

2. Hold your emotions and do not become defensive. Sometimes reviews are unfair and even incorrect. Remember to always remain respectful and factual in your answer.

3. Show sincere empathy. Sometimes the only thing a disappointed customer needs is a simple, sincere apology.

4. Arrange the problem offline. If you feel that the issue is escalating, it makes sense to continue the discussion privately instead of talking back and forth.

5. Observe the rules. Many companies offer discounts and coupons to compensate for their mistakes, but some platforms regard this as a violation of trust or even bribery. E-mail the coupon or discount so instead of placing it on social media.

Do not be afraid to tell your side of the story

Bad reviews are not always your fault. But when a succession of factors leads to a negative customer experience, your company may suffer. If someone wrongly accuses you of a crime, you would do everything possible to prove your innocence. If a review is simply not true, you must do the same. Sometimes you have to share your vision of what really happened.

For example, future customers who end up on your page and see negative reviews can read your story and make an informed decision about what happened. When you can articulate the facts nicely and at the same time show the benefits of your company, you can turn a negative situation into a positive experience.

Satisfaction with dissatisfied customers promotes loyalty

Answering every customer review is a must. But it is even more important to actually solve the problems of your customers. Nothing is more disappointing than an ordinary “we apologize for the inconvenience” reaction with just a few meaningless words. That is not helpful or satisfactory; It’s annoying. There must also be a detailed solution quickly. data from HBR shows that brands that respond quickly to customer problems have more chances to retain customers.

The faster you respond, the more customers are willing to pay for your products and services in the future (read the HBR article for more explanation). In short, getting a quick answer is usually enough to be prepared to pay a little more.

Of course there are also customer problems that you can not solve for certain reasons. But this study shows that even a simple expression of empathy is enough to correct frustration and provide good customer service. Delta’s pizza party is a good example of how brands can offer good customer service through empathy. They ordered 600 pizzas for their passengers who were delayed due to bad weather in Atlanta.

Another advantage of responding to angry customers is to involve them in an interview. Making a personal connection with a dissatisfied customer can really make the difference. If your customer service does this, it is a good idea to have them signed with their initials or names when they respond. This offers a personal touch. In this way, customers will feel more comfortable later on in following up their problems.

Negative feedback is an opportunity to improve

Customer satisfaction has never been more important than today. About half of the startups fail. And that applies not only to tech startups, but also to companies in almost every industry. Having a good customer retention strategy can increase your chances of success, and review management is a big part of this.

Treat any form of feedback as a gift. It is a free piece of information that you can use to improve your business and grow. There is no better way to know if your company is doing well than asking your customers. Big brands spend a lot of money on carrying out customer satisfaction surveys every year, even though customers often leave them without completing them. This means that getting voluntary feedback is invaluable. It can help you discover and solve important consumer issues. This in turn can help your business grow.

Please note that not every customer will take the trouble to leave a negative review. But those who do, are probably not alone. There will be many customers who have the same feeling, but never give their opinion. They just leave your brand without you knowing it.

It is always good to show affection to your unhappy customers and to strive for a second chance. But that is not the only way to use negative reviews for your business growth. If you dig deeper into those reviews, you will be able to find current business ideas. No one can tell you better how to improve your services or products than your own customers, so never miss a chance to listen to what they have to say. For example, use good feedback from customers to effectively implement these features and improvements. This guarantees success in the area of ​​customer collaboration.

In summary

Most companies do everything they can to avoid negative reviews. And in many ways that makes sense. But not all negative reviews are bad. In fact, they can be useful in different ways.

Bad ratings help build trust. Nowadays buying false reviews is as easy as getting one or another service, making it difficult to identify companies with a reliable rating. Negative reviews ensure a healthy balance and help potential customers see that your ratings are reliable.

Negative feedback is also a goldmine of opportunity. But you need a plan before you respond to a customer. Do you want casual answers, formally, or somewhere in the middle? You have to decide on that in advance.

Complaints from customers are a powerful tool to discover and resolve internal problems in time before they get out of hand. That’s why they can help to increase your conversion percentages. It is therefore important to regularly check all evaluation platforms. This feedback provides invaluable insights into customer satisfaction that would otherwise require more effort and resources.

It also offers an opportunity to show your excellent customer service and human side. Be sympathetic with reviews and apologize when you have to. Do not ignore any reviews, whether they are positive or negative. The quick and consistent answering of feedback from your customers translates into actual sales increases. This means that any assessment that remains unanswered is a missed opportunity to retain existing customers and attract new prospects.

You also have to defend your brand against false claims. In most cases that is better than ignoring them. But never forget to treat your satisfied customers with as much care and attention as those who complain. Satisfied customers are the best marketing. And it’s a free opportunity.

This blog post was written by Lisanza Faccilongo, Content Marketeer at Sortlist.