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How To Prevent Negative Customer Reviews From Hurting Your Business

negative customer reviews

Reading online reviews has become an important part of a customer’s purchase journey. In fact, 90% of consumers base their opinion of a business from reading less than 10 reviews. And 74% of consumers will be more trusting of a local business after reading positive reviews about it. So every business should be striving to earn more positive reviews from customers. 

At the same time, negative reviews are inevitable. And not all bad reviews are harmful. In fact, negative reviews may sometimes be beneficial for your business. However, negative reviews could also be the death of your business depending on the situation, type of review, and how you’ve handled it.

In this post, you’re going to learn more about how negative reviews really impact your business and how you can better handle them.

Negative Reviews and Their Positive Impact

As mentioned earlier, some negative reviews could be helpful for your business as opposed to causing harm. Here are some of the ways in which you can benefit from bad reviews:

  • Authenticity and Transparency – Negative reviews make your positive reviews look more authentic. People already know that businesses can’t please everyone, and they’re bound to get a few bad reviews here and there. But when the only reviews you display are positive, it may seem suspicious. The existence of bad reviews can help convince shoppers that the positive reviews are genuine and that you have nothing to hide.
  • Set Realistic Expectations – Some negative reviews help other customers make better purchase decisions. If a bad review has highlighted how the product has disappointed in some way, it can help set realistic expectations with future buyers. This could result in fewer disappointments. For example, this review talks about how the shoes seem smaller than other shoes of the same size in other brands.
    negative reviews set realistic expectations
    This could guide shoppers in buying shoes one size larger since these tend to run smaller than usual. The following review points out that the shoes look great but are a bit uncomfortable, helping set expectations.
  • Prove Yourself If you handle the review correctly and provide timely help to the disappointed customer, it shows other shoppers that they can trust you even if something goes wrong.

When You Should be Concerned

In spite of all this, bad reviews can still harm your business. You should be concerned about negative reviews when one or more of the following happens:

  • Too Many Negative Reviews – While a few bad reviews here and there helps you maintain authenticity, too many of them could drag you down. If there are more bad reviews than good ones, potential customers might refuse to go through with the purchase. You should especially try to maintain a good balance between positive and negative reviews in your Google My Business listing. Too many negative reviews here could impact your ranking in local search.The negative reviews will bring down your average star ratings, which many people use for forming an opinion about a business. The screenshot below shows a business with mostly 1-star reviews. Despite having a significant number of 5-star reviews too, the overall review rating is just 2.7.

    Additionally, too many negative reviews could impact your chances of getting star ratings to show up in your Google adverts. For these ratings to show up, you need at least 150 unique reviews and your composite rating should be at least 3.5 stars. The more bad reviews you get, the lower your star rating will go. This in turn could prevent your star ratings from showing up in your ads.
  • Consistent Pattern in Negative Reviews – A few bad reviews about different features of your product or service might not do any harm. In most cases, the good reviews will overshadow all the negative things people have to say. But in some cases, all the negative reviews might follow a similar pattern. And these reviews could seriously impact the decision of prospective customers. For example, say most of the complaints are about a certain feature or detail in your product. Or there’s a huge difference in the experience of customers who visit your restaurant during lunch hour compared to those who visit during dinner. These are signs that you might need to make some improvements because it’s not an isolated incident.The following restaurant, for example, has had customers complaining about their gumbo. It might be a good idea to see how they can improve their gumbo.
    Consistent Pattern in Negative Reviews
  • Reviews Containing Serious Allegations – There are regular bad reviews and then there are reviews that could seriously impact your reputation. For instance, reviews alleging that one of your employees has harassed a customer. Regardless of what the allegation is, you must immediately conduct an investigation to find out what actually happened so you can address it. If the allegation has substance, you’ll need to take the necessary action to address the issue. But in some cases, the allegation may be made by someone who just wants to badmouth your company. If this is the case, you will need to respond accordingly to the reviewer, so the public can get a clear idea of what actually happened.

How to Handle Negative Reviews

Now that you see how negative reviews can impact your business, you need to understand how to better handle them. Take a look at some of these best practices in handling negative reviews:

  • Never Hide Them – When you get a bad review, one of your first instincts may be to hide them. But doing so is a surefire way to lose the trust of your customers. Not only will it frustrate the customer who left the comment, the lack of negative reviews could be suspicious for potential customers.
  • Be Prompt – Never let negative reviewers wait too long for a response. Monitor your reviews, and whenever a bad one comes up, take prompt action in trying to resolve the issue. This fast response could improve the customer’s experience and also show others how capable you are.
  • Be Professional and Empathetic – Arguing and making excuses in response to a negative review are complete no-nos. It may be irritating when the complaint seems ridiculous to you or when the customer is being unreasonable. But make sure you never portray these thoughts in your responses. Instead, try to see things from the reviewer’s point of view and politely offer assistance.
  • Identify Areas of Improvement – Use negative reviews as an opportunity to research what you might be doing wrong. As mentioned earlier, seek patterns in the bad reviews so you can identify what needs improvement.

You have a clear idea about the positive and negative impacts of bad reviews. And you also understand what needs to be done in case you do get them. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant that specializes in influencer marketing, product launches, sales funnels, targeted traffic and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.

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