Why Bad Reviews Are Good For Business
Businesses function best when they cultivate positive relationships with customers. It’s why everyone who’s worked in or around the service industry knows the phrase: “The customer is always right.” Businesses rely on positive relationships because that’s what convinces people to keep coming back, despite the myriad of other options available to them; customers go where they feel valued, both personally and by virtue of getting the experience desired. For this reason, small businesses are understandably concerned about receiving negative reviews online because it means that they have somehow failed at this most crucial task.
In the internet age, comments are unavoidable. People will always review their experience at your company, whether on personal social media, in-person with their friends or more publicly online. From a business standpoint, it’s better to accept reviews in a controlled environment where you can view and potentially respond, rather than letting them run unfettered in the wild.
Comments can help you connect more closely with customers, too, since they’re able to reach out about genuine concerns that they may have; this gives you a chance to really hear people out and even rectify the situation, all of which cultivates a more positive experience for them. Despite the impulse, it is essential not to delete negative feedback or refuse to provide a place for people to air grievances on a public forum. People know when comments are removed, and it makes you look unprofessional, which completely undercuts the trust that businesses embed so profoundly into their foundation. A comment section of only positive reviews also looks like it could be fake, as review platforms have been outed as flooding comment sections with paid positive reviews in an attempt to raise companies’ reputation. People are naturally suspicious, and this won’t do your business any good either.
Customers need to be heard, so give yourself a chance to listen to them.
Are bad reviews really…good?
Since reviews influence future buying decisions, it may seem counterintuitive and even impossible to believe that there’s any good in negative feedback. However, that’s precisely the reason why they’re so critical: Bad reviews give a real insight into your business, so people can develop a more rounded vision of your products before they buy. It allows them to set their expectations accordingly so that you actually have fewer disappointed customers in the future.
With such a broad mix of positive and negative reviews, people can be sure that they can trust the product they’re getting. A lot of “bad” reviews don’t even necessarily contain undeserved vitriol about a product; they tend to focus on how it didn’t meet their expectations for some reason or another. This helps other customers, who had those same expectations, know whether or not the product is really what they’re looking for. It gives them a more rounded outlook of the product, with all the pros and cons so that they can weigh them for themselves. In this capacity, reviews are a useful tool for guaranteeing a higher percentage of satisfied customers in the long run. Business needs to find and develop a core audience that supports your brand — and then keep them with you.
Sometimes bad reviews can even help your company make changes that you didn’t realize were necessary. For example, suppose the item didn’t meet expectations because of a discrepancy or unclarity on the website; you can easily change the description, image, size details, or wherever the issue lies to build a better website and product catalog. Then, customers will have a much clearer idea of what they’re purchasing, which will lead to fewer returns and complaints.
Negative reviews give your company a chance to respond and address issues that otherwise would have just gone unanswered and left a customer feeling unheard and unsatisfied. Most of the time, people want to feel that they are being heard.
How should you respond to bad reviews?
Poor feedback doesn’t have to stay that way. When a staff member reads those reviews, they can respond accordingly or redirect that customer to a higher level of management, which will take care of those issues with higher authority.
How should employees address bad reviews? It’s simpler than you think.
- First and foremost, respond quickly; within 24 hours is ideal. Leaving customer complaints unacknowledged for too long not only looks unprofessional, but if the aggrieved patron (and others) see that you’re not taking steps to make amends, they will likely grow impatient and go to one of your competitors instead.
- Acknowledge and apologize for the issue and inconvenience. Be specific about the problem and your solutions as it shows that you really paid attention to their problem or concern. Don’t argue that the customer is lying, that the problem doesn’t exist or that the issue really isn’t that bad. Although you can’t control every single aspect of every single customer’s experience, demonstrate that you’re trying and that’s often enough. Empathy matters.
- Keep it short and sweet. There’s no need to write an essay in response, because they — and other customers browsing the forums as well — probably won’t read more than a few sentences. If the situation calls for a lengthier, one-on-one response, don’t be afraid to move the conversation offline or to a private messaging channel, as this shows you’re taking the time to handle the issue personally. You can even supply them with a manager’s direct line to resolve the issue quickly over the phone rather than engaging directly — just make sure whoever you send them to is prepared to answer.
- Provide solutions. Even if you can’t rectify their specific experience, you can demonstrate how you plan to improve in the future. This gives you a chance to get that customer back, and even if you can’t, other customers will see your resolve and know that you’ve made improvements to ensure that their own experience isn’t like that.
- Sometimes it can be appropriate to add humor to the situation. This doesn’t always work; for example, traditional product review sections might not be the place to make fun. However, joking tones are increasingly popular on social media accounts. Brands trying to market to younger generations will find that those demographics respond well to clever, cutting or dark humor so it might be appropriate, depending on your branding and past customer interactions, to make light of a bad situation and build a relationship as friends.
- Make amends and, most importantly, follow through on your promises. There’s nothing worse than a half-hearted apology with no specificity and no follow-up; this will surely only lead to more and more customers giving the same complaints. Your audience will see that you already addressed but didn’t actually solve any of these problems and begin shopping elsewhere. Being genuine goes a long way when it comes to repairing customer relations after a bad review.
Taking the time to respond to negative reviews breeds trust and loyalty between you and your customers, even those who had a bad experience. They’re more likely to come back, even if you cost more than the competitors if they believe you have a superior product or service. You can show that you take the time to care about your customers on an individual level.
No one is perfect; every one (and by extension, every business) has room for improvement. What is a better way there to gauge your audience’s interest than by asking them directly? Feedback helps you better suit the community that you cater to, leading to happier customers and better business overall
The main objective of any good business should be keeping your customers satisfied. To grow and sustain success, reviews are critical because they let you understand what works, what doesn’t work, and how you can refine your methods accordingly.
In short, how should you handle reviews? Respond to every single comment, positive and negative, because this will give customers the most rounded possible view of your services. From a business standpoint, you should appreciate your customers, whether they’re praising you or complaining about you. Readjust your mindset a bit, think of complaints only as the person saying that they want you to do better; they want to see you live up to the potential they know you have. For the most part, customers understand that you care about their experience above all else. Utilizing their feedback is the best way to guarantee that you meet their expectations perfectly.
So why are bad reviews good? Simply put, they let your business always learn and be better.