Consumers Think Negative Reviews are Helpful: Here’s How You Can Use this Trend to Your Advantage

March 24, 2015

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Many local business owners have a knee-jerk reaction when and if they receive a negative or less-than-perfect online review on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, or Google My Business.

For many segments like foodservice or contractors, a negative review is without a doubt a trigger for worry and anxiety, and something you wish would disappear. Unfortunately, the Web is unforgiving when it comes to the permanency of bad reviews. Once posted, they will become part of the timeline of your business. Even after acquiring multiple positive reviews, the negative reviews might remain visible to potential shoppers through priority sorting (a feature present in many third-party review sites), or when a customer decides to dig deeper into your business as part of the pre-shopping and research process.

The Reality About Negative Reviews in Numbers

According to a survey conducted by Dimensional Research, 90 percent of respondents indicated that positive reviews influenced their decision to purchase or engage. But interestingly, 86 percent of the sample identified negative reviews as influential in their decision-making process.

As of its latest fact sheet, Yelp reported a review distribution that saw 67 percent of reviews as being rated 4 or 5 stars. Also, according to Yelp, you are 5 times more likely to receive a five-star review than you are to receive a one-star review.

Another important fact to note from the study conducted by Dimensional Research is that customers are more likely to leave positive reviews on social media, and negative reviews on sites specifically designed to host customer reviews. Finally, and not surprising at all, the trigger for most negative reviews is found in poor customer service.

Your Negative Reviews Provide Consumers with Valuable Information

When consumers resort to third-party review sites as part of the research processes for the purchase of products and services, they are not necessarily looking for a perfect provider. The goal for many is to find a healthy balance, where a business is able to deliver a multifaceted service or product that covers areas such as location, value, hours of operation, and customer commitment.

A negative review does not necessarily deter a customer from engaging with a business. It serves as a counterbalance to get a better understanding of the worst-case scenario, as well as the business’s ability to provide timely and responsive resolutions to issues escalated via an online product or service review. 

Your Negative Reviews Add Credibility to Your Profile

A negative review also adds credibility to your overall profile by removing possible doubts related to astroturfing. By this, we mean that consumers are more likely to give credence to a business that is mildly flawed than to one where their online profiles are perfect to the point of questioning their truthfulness in terms of content and origination.

By sharing this fact with you, we are by no means encouraging you to go out and seek, or even worse, falsify negative or neutral reviews. Instead, we want you to have confidence in the knowledge that when bad reviews do happen, and they will, they are not necessarily a sign of doom for your online reputation. When handled properly and professionally, a negative review can serve as a springboard that allows you to show your ability to right a wrong.

Your Negative Reviews Help Consumers Have Realistic Expectations 

There is nothing more conducive to a positive review than exceeding the expectations of your customers. Without question, a negative review is a blemish to an online profile that nobody wants to have, but it’s not necessarily a deal breaker. Savvy shoppers frequently use negative reviews not as a means to filter and eliminate businesses from their list of choice, but rather as a means to have realistic expectations of the goods and services they are likely to receive.

For example, if you are a budget-friendly family restaurant, chances are you now have or will soon have reviews from customers without children, who may have given your venue a less-than-glowing review due to the noise and hullabaloo commonly associated with the presence of small children. Reviews like this may make patrons with children more inclined to point their dollars your way, with the foreknowledge that your venue is a place for families just like theirs.

You Can Leverage Your Negative Reviews by Fostering a Relationship with the Reviewer

If you already have negative reviews in some of your third-party profiles, or you just received a real-time alert of having a freshly crafted negative review, then we want you to be less disappointed and more opportunistic. By applying the principles of rapid response, you can still salvage the relationship and provide the reviewer with appropriate remedy aligned with the severity of the issues reported on the review. Many consumers have established long-lasting relationships with businesses, thanks to a properly handled negative review. Do what it takes to win the customer back.

Consumers Think Negative Reviews are Helpful: Here’s How You Can Use this Trend to Your Advantage

You Can Leverage Your Negative Review by Learning from Your Mistakes

The greatest value of negative feedback is found in how it can impact process and product optimization. No business should ever allow for feedback on the same issue to be reported in more than one instance.

When a customer submits a negative review, he or she is empowering businesses to take a closer look at the way things are done, and take the necessary steps to implement corrective action. By documenting the root cause of negative reviews, businesses can significantly improve processes in a way that positively impacts the experience of future customers and reduces costs associated with compensation and remedy.

You Can Leverage Your Negative Review by Talking to a Wider Audience

When a business takes the initiative of responding to a negative review, there should always be an awareness that review responses are not only a means to directly communicate with the reviewer, but also a great opportunity to speak to potential future customers. Write your review responses in a way that demonstrates how much you value each customer at an individual level, and how far you are willing to go to make things right.

You Can Leverage Your Negative Review by Educating the Reviewer About Options

In addition to providing responses that speak to a wider audience, a review response to a negative review is also a fantastic opportunity to talk to the reviewer and other readers about products, services, and options that you offer that might resolve the issue escalated via a review.

For example, in the case of a hotel, if the negative review speaks about limited square footage in a particular room, the hotelier might want to highlight the available upgrades into larger suites that may or may not have a cost associated with it.

We have, in some instances, identified well-crafted review responses to similar scenarios, where the hotelier invites the reviewer to become a member of the hotel club in order to take advantage of complimentary upgrades to larger units. In addition to giving a solution-driven response, the hotelier is also providing an upsell for the reviewer and all future guests.

Make the management of your negative reviews a key part of your game-plan for reputation management. At ReviewTrackers we have a feature-rich software platform to help you get the most out of your online reviews. Request a demo today so you can find out what we can do for you.

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