negative reviews

The evidence is undeniable: online reviews wield tremendous influence on consumers. Smart businesses recognize this and incorporate a customer review strategy into their business plan. So it would make sense for organizations to aim for all positive reviews, right? Not necessarily. It turns out that negative reviews can be just as useful as positive ones. 

Here are ways negative reviews can actually benefit your business. 

Negative Reviews Add Credibility

There’s a reason most people have heard the saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Human nature, a barrage of information available at their fingertips, and experience have combined to make today’s consumers cynical. They know very little in life is 5-star for everyone. 

When customers only see positive, glowing reviews, they tend to be suspicious. Studies show that 68% of customers trust reviews more when they see a mix of good and bad reviews. It makes the business seem more transparent and honest. It turns out a balance of positive and negative reviews builds trust in the authenticity of both the reviews and the company. 

Bad Reviews Help You Improve

The people who matter most in business are your customers. Negative reviews can be the source of valuable, direct feedback from customers. Note what the reviews point out, search for patterns, and determine how you can improve. Sometimes negative reviews are from trolls or people that had a bad day, but many times they can bring to light opportunities for your business to get better. 

Negative Reviews Highlight Positive Reviews

Although it may seem counterintuitive, negative reviews make your positive reviews look better. People compare the pros and cons when deciding whether or not to make a purchase, and a side-by-side comparison of negative and positive reviews is common. 

For some reason, when they see bad reviews, people are more likely to believe the positive ones. All the good parts highlighted in the positive reviews stand out and can impact customers’ decisions. It’s important to note that you still need more positive than negative reviews for this effect. 

Bad Reviews Give You an Opportunity to Shine

Instead of panicking when you get a negative review, realize that it can be a chance for you to engage with your customers, quickly address a negative experience, and show you care. It’s an opportunity to not only change a dissatisfied customer into a happy one, but to also establish a better reputation with future customers who will read that review and your response. A company that recognizes and works to correct mistakes goes a long way in the eyes of consumers. 

Bad Reviews Help Customers Make Informed Buying Decisions

Research has found that “82% of shoppers specifically seek out negative reviews,” and that consumers who engage with negative reviews spend longer on a page, increasing their conversion rate by 67%. Why is that? People often compare the advantages and disadvantages of buying a product, so bad reviews add more data for that decision. Negative reviews help set realistic expectations, and customers make a more informed buying decision. This can result in fewer complaints and refund requests. 

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Hopefully, you now realize that negative reviews aren’t the end of the world for your business—depending on how you manage them. 

First and foremost, DO NOT just ignore bad reviews. Many of the benefits mentioned above require that you engage with customers. Here are some good rules of thumb when responding to negative reviews:

  • Respond promptly.
  • Apologize for the unsatisfactory experience.
  • If there was a mistake, admit to it.
  • Correct inaccuracies (in a polite way). 
  • Let the customer know how to reach you if you need to take it offline.
  • Explain how you will rectify the situation.

Make Negative Reviews Work for You

Hiring a reputable online review company can help you develop a more effective online review strategy and tap into the power of your customer reviews. Because bad reviews are going to happen sooner or later. And when they do, you want to know about it and make them work for you as soon as possible.

Duane “DJ” Sprague holds a Master of Science degree in Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) and has been in sales, marketing, advertising, and PR leadership for over 30-years. After decades of using his survey and market research strategies from the client and agency side of the desk, DJ now serves as CMO of Trust Brands, a reputation management firm. Trust Brands consists of four entities that help companies collect, promote and respond to verified customer reviews and ratings, plus website and personal information security, and shopping cart optimization tools. These products are used individually and collectively by over 7,000 companies to increase trust, visibility, clicks, and conversions. The Trust Brands group of companies includes Shopper Approved, Local Reviews, Trust Guard and Cart Rocket.  

Customer reviews stock photo by tum3123/Shutterstock