Dealing with Negative Reviews – Part One
This is part one of a two-part series on dealing with negative reviews for your business. Keep reading or skip ahead to part two and find out what you can do about negative reviews straight-away.
Everyone gets negative reviews. Let me repeat that. Everyone gets negative reviews. No matter how hard we work to keep our customers happy, or how great our product is, we all eventually have to face the harsh reality that not everyone will love us all the time.
This is a particularly difficult truth to accept for some of us. From the customer service manager who gives all his working hours (and the majority of his waking hours) to keeping customers happy. To the marketing executive who has worked so hard on creating the perfect campaign. But above all, this truth is difficult to accept for the entrepreneur or small business owner who has sacrificed so much to build their own business.
Once you have accepted this truth you can begin to learn to see negative reviews as a positive thing! Your first negative review is extremely unlikely to be from your first customer, so you could see it as a growth milestone. Learn to view these as a sign that people care about your product or service enough to actually say something about it. But above all, you should see negative feedback as an opportunity to improve.
“All of this is fantastic [I hear you say] but I still feel terrible.” And well you might. Despite all the positive aspects, you should still worry about negative reviews but before we go into why you should be worried, let’s stop and unpick a little why you are worried.
Why you should not worry about negative reviews
Negative reviews cause a lot of people a lot of worry. The more emotionally, personally or financially invested you are in your business the more likely that this worry will manifest as stress. But why do these reviews have such an impact on those of us who care?
There are two main reasons why we worry about negative reviews. The first reason is that we are worried about how a negative review will affect our current and future revenue.
The second reason we worry about negative feedback is something we are much less likely to admit to. It comes from a place of self-doubt. We feel frustrated at the lack of validation for our sincere and genuine efforts and begin to question whether we have done enough. As a business owner, you may even start to question your entire business model. Stop!
While this is a perfectly understandable human response to negative feedback it’s not a valid one. It’s an emotional response based in self-doubt and ego (two sides of the same coin), which increases your stress making you less capable of responding appropriately.
Now that you have separated the emotional response to negative reviews from the rational response you are in a much better place to deal with them. Just remember that when dealing with customer complaints you will be far more effective both for the customer and for the company if you can learn to leave your emotions at the door.
Ok, so now that we know the reasons why we shouldn’t worry about negative reviews let’s take a look at the reasons why we should worry about them.
Why you should worry about negative reviews
Now that we’re thinking with clear heads it’s time to look at the very real reason that we should be worried about negative reviews. The impact they can have on our bottom line.
Negative reviews impact revenue. In it’s most direct form a customer who leaves a negative review may request, or even demand, a full refund. They are unlikely to repeat a purchase from you and won’t become a long-term customer. In a less direct, but often more damaging form, a negative review can put off prospective customers.
According to a 2016 PEW Research Center Study, 82% of adults always or sometimes check online reviews before making a purchase decision. Of those who routinely check online reviews, 54% reported paying more attention to extremely negative reviews.
Research suggests that one of the reasons why shoppers pay particular attention to negative reviews is because of how rare it actually is to see a negative review. This attention is magnified due to the effect of negative bias which says that negative things have a stronger impact on people than neutral or positive things.
Trust is a key element for online purchases. For bigger purchase decisions which will affect our life experiences, for example, a college course or a family holiday, we require a greater level of trust in the company who will be providing this experience. A bad review, in particular, one which speaks to the quality of the service itself, can break our trust.
Counter-intuitively the outrageously negative reviews, the ones from angry people, are not the reviews which do us the most harm. The most damaging reviews are often the ones which appear the most reasonable. This is because these reviews are easier for people to empathise with and trust in. If the trust we have in the negative reviewer is greater than the trust we place in the brand and their criticism is relevant then chances are we will choose another supplier. According to a 2018 survey by Bright Local:
Negative reviews stop 40% of consumers wanting to use a business.
Why you need to act promptly on negative reviews
You need to act promptly on every negative review. Every single negative review. Sure, it’s easy (and quite tempting) to let the odd review slide. But if you do this you’ll soon end up with a bunch of negative reviews which together have a greater adverse impact.
This is because each new negative review lends credence to the one before it.
In addition, groupthink can result in a situation where a customer who may have been disposed to leave a positive review is unwilling to go against what they see as a consensus. Groupthink can also embolden a customer who only has mildly negative feelings about a brand and so would not have left a review to add their voice to the other negative reviews.
There is also a danger in delaying responses to negative reviews that the customer will become increasingly frustrated and thus write more reviews on different platforms.
Finally, the risk of not promptly dealing with these reviews is that they will be indexed by search engines and will appear at the top of search results for your brand.
In order to stop the effect of negative reviews from being magnified, you need to act promptly, though not rashly, when deal with them.
We hope you enjoyed reading part one of Dealing with Negative Reviews now read Part Two: What You Can Do About Negative Reviews for five practical steps to take.
Dealing with Negative Reviews: Part One: Why You Should Worry About Negative Reviews | Part Two: What You Can Do About Negative Reviews