Negative reviews aren’t bad news.
Yet, many businesses fear negative reviews, without realizing that they are easy to deal with and can can actually have a positive effect on your business.
The truth about bad reviews
It’s impossible to live in a world of five-star experiences, so why are businesses so afraid of negative reviews?
First of all, let’s clear some things up:
- Bad reviews don’t mean your business is bad
- Poor reviews can actually help your business
- Handling bad reviews is easy (we’ll share the technique below)
- The best way to combat bad reviews? Get more good ones!
This is the comprehensive guide to negative reviews: what they mean, why you need them and how to deal with them.
We don’t live in a world of five-star experiences, so accept that not all reviews are going to be five-star.
Bad reviews ≠ bad business
No one likes to see bad reviews online, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in negative feedback.
Maybe you got a bad review on Yelp, or someone wrote a scathing review on one of your products, or even just an email that detailed a negative experience they had — don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong.
The truth is, anyone who has a business has had to deal with at least a couple of poor reviews.
And if everyone who got a bad product review closed up shop, eCommerce just wouldn’t exist.
If and when you get a negative review, the most important thing to remember is that it doesn’t mean your product or service is bad.
Most likely, the review was a result of mismatched expectations or simply a bad day on the part of the reviewer (or the business).
Now that that’s cleared up, we can get into the business of why you need bad reviews.
Negative reviews can be good
Believe it or not, there can be a lot of positive side effects to negative reviews.
Negative reviews make good reviews look better
One of the best side effects of negative reviews is the positive light they shed on good reviews.
When a business shows all of their reviews, they prove they have nothing to hide. Sure, some people were unhappy, but the vast majority loved the product.
Negative reviews are good for your brand because they show that all of your reviews are real.
Brands with perfect reviews look inauthentic.
A 2013 study by Harvard Business School found the majority of consumers trust reviews more when they see a mix of good and bad feedback.
If the feedback is entirely positive, 95 percent believe the reviews are fake or company-screened. Shoppers know that no one is perfect, which is why customers value seeing honest feedback, even if it’s not all positive.
Bad reviews assist in purchase decisions
In addition to boosting customer trust in your brand, negative reviews give shoppers a real picture of what they can expect from your products and service.
One of the biggest challenges of e-commerce is providing potential customers with a realistic idea of what products are like.
And one of the main reasons a customer writes a bad review is not because the product or service was bad, but because it didn’t meet expectations. Negative reviews can help with that.
In fact, a Yotpo study of 1.3 million reviews found that the most commonly used negative word in reviews – by an enormous margin – is “disappointment” or “disappointed.”
It’s mentioned almost 20,000 times, while the next most common negative word – “bad” – is mentioned only about 7500 times.
Disappointment happens when expectations aren’t fulfilled. Brands can use this data to better communicate what to expect to customers (ex. warning that shipping may be slow because an item is out of stock).
Let’s say a clothing store gets negative reviews saying that the fit on a top was too small.
Shoppers who read those reviews know that they need to order a larger size. Shoppers can see the reason behind negative feedback and then can use this knowledge to make smarter purchase decisions.
Shoppers don’t want to buy blindly. They want the whole story before making an online purchase, and real feedback from fellow shoppers gives them insight a product description can’t.
Plus, not all negative reviews are equal. Check out the below review, which shows that the customer’s complaint has nothing to do with the product itself, only the minimum price at checkout.
In this way, your negative reviews actually encourage consumers to buy your product over others. Instill trust in shoppers who may be unsure about buying by giving them insight so they can make a purchase they believe in.
Negative reviews create buzz
Negative reviews can create a buzz around your brand that can actually increase e-commerce sales.
Jonah Berger, a Professor of Marketing at UPenn, did research that found that negative buzz can increase sales.
Negative publicity can increase product awareness because getting press for something negative can put you in the forefront of the consumers mind.
Remember the saying negative attention is better than no attention? Surprisingly, it’s true.
Negative feedback can also remind consumers who haven’t interacted with you in a while who you are.
Botto Bistro, a California pizzeria, perfected the concept of using negative reviews to their benefit.
They offer discounts to customers who write bad reviews on Yelp.
They wanted to fight back against manipulative reviews.
The effects have been positive for them – they’ve made a name for themselves as “Yelp’s worst reviewed pizzeria” and gotten a tons of publicity from their efforts.
What to do with a bad review
Step 1: Don’t panic!