How Negative Online Reviews Impact the Customer Experience

Adam Dorfman

When your business gets a negative review, it can feel personal. Every business makes mistakes, and some do nothing wrong, but there is a perception in the customer’s mind that the experience wasn’t what was expected.

All businesses, if they’re around long enough, are bound to get some negative reviews. People even hate on this country’s most famous national parks, so your company is bound to catch some flack. It does not matter whether your reviews are deserved or not, your online reputation can suffer.

Once that feedback is posted, however, you have a choice in how, or if, you respond. And that choice also impacts your bottom line results and the customer experience.

How Online Reviews Influence Sales

Before we focus on those negative reviews, studies show that reviews in general influence consumer buying choices. Spiegel Research Center’s latest report reveals that a company with just five reviews has a 270% greater chance of securing a sale than one with no reviews.

That same study indicates that reviews have more influence on higher-priced items than cheaper ones. Specifically, conversion rates went up 190% when reviews were present on lower-price items but jumped 380% with higher ticket items.

Finally, having all five-star reviews may seem a bit suspect for some buyers. Purchase likelihood is greater with an average score in the 4.0 to 4.7 range and goes down as scores approach 5.0. In other words, a few negative reviews could help boost your bottom line.

The study from Spiegel Research makes a good case for embracing negative online reviews. But, here are some other ways that this feedback can work in your favor:

Embracing Negative Online Reviews of Your Business

It’s hard not to get defensive when someone leaves a negative review about your business, but a poorly-worded response isn’t going to help the situation. Sure, it’s unpleasant, but here are a few tips for dealing with and even embracing that feedback.

  • Acknowledge and apologize – Avoid arguing with consumers about their feelings. Instead, acknowledge the review and apologize if they’ve had a bad experience. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, your willingness to do this speaks volumes.
  • Be specific – Online review platforms aren’t courtrooms. This isn’t the place to get into a debate about facts. However, you can briefly speak to the reviewer’s concern to show that you’re paying attention and let them know your values are contrary to their experience.
  • Move the discussion offline – Keep your online interaction as brief as possible. Instead, offer to speak further about the situation offline via telephone, email or in person.

When it comes to your business and its online reputation, you have more control than you think. Encouraging customers to leave reviews and responding appropriately to each one will help improve the customer experience as well as boost your bottom line results.

Download our top trends for online reputation and CX management report to learn more.

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