Negative online reviews, low ratings, and critical customer feedback are bad for business. Right?
Research studies back it up. According to Cone Communications, 4 out of 5 consumers reverse their purchase decisions based on negative reviews. Even the latest research from the Local Search Association and YP shows that 55 percent of shoppers will not even consider a business with bad reviews and ratings.
But just because your business received a 1-star review on Google, TripAdvisor, or Facebook doesn’t mean you should do everything in your power to delete it.
For one, you probably won’t be able to. More importantly, bad reviews can actually be good for business. And customer complaints are a secret marketing weapon that some businesses don’t know they have.
Negative reviews and customer feedback provide insights into the customer experience.
A 5-star review may tell you what you want to hear, but a candid 1-star review can give you exactly what you need to hear.
It takes too long for your kitchen staff to serve food. One of your hotel rooms really does smell like cigarette smoke. Customers have no idea that you offer free oil change. Bank Teller 3, while always helpful, needs an extra week of training.
These are examples of issues that you might otherwise miss without the “help” of negative customer feedback. So instead of fighting back, responding angrily, or hiring a digital marketing agency or SEO firm to bury bad reviews, learn to love what the voice of the customer has to say. Equipped with the right analytical tools, you can transform customer feedback into insights and opportunities for improvement.
Less-than-perfect ratings make you look real.
According to Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center, product purchases are most influenced by reviews with an average rating of 4.2 to 4.5 stars out of 5 — making this the ideal average star rating for purchase probability.
“Consumers perceive ratings closer to a perfect 5.0 (stars) as too good to be true,” the researchers said, after analyzing data across 40 product and service categories.
“As counterintuitive as it may seem, negative reviews have a positive impact because they help establish trust and authenticity. Consumers understand that a product can’t be all things to all people, and they appreciate negative reviews as an important element in their decision-making process.”
Moreover, according to Northwestern’s research, 82 percent of consumers specifically seek negative customer feedback.
A report published by the Guardian echoes similar findings: 68 percent of consumers actually place more trust in reviews when they see both good and bad ones. But if a business seems too good to be true, 95 percent will suspect that it has faked its own reputation or censored what unhappy customers might have said.
Obviously, your business should continue to focus on delivering an amazing experience. Be brilliant in responding to the needs of your customers. And by all means, still strive for five.
But be okay with not reaching it. A bad apple or two won’t spoil the bunch. Besides, even the highest-ranking and best-performing companies on Google and Facebook are not immune to receiving less-than-perfect ratings and critical reviews.
Negative customer feedback gives you an opportunity to change the conversation.
When your customers don’t mince their words, it’s time to really listen.
That’s what successful businesses do: they tune into feedback — on online review sites, social media, customer surveys and e-mails, and other communication channels — in order to stay responsive and connect with the voices that matter the most. And they harness genuine reviews, social media comments, and honest feedback — no matter the star rating — in order to change the conversation, win over critics, recover detractors, and right the wrong.
One of my favorite examples is the way JetBlue Airways uses its Twitter account as one of the company’s main customer service channels. When a customer named Esai Velez complained (politely) about his TV not working, JetBlue responded within minutes and issued credit to the customer for the inconvenience.
Bad reviews and low ratings help you measure performance more accurately.
Want to know how you’re really doing? Embrace reviews as part of your customer feedback strategy and institutionalize this as your way of capturing the unfiltered voice of the customer.
It’s kind of like the “How’s my driving?” sign posted on the back of fleet vehicles operated by employee drivers: you embrace and encourage customer feedback in order to more accurately measure performance, make adjustments, and benchmark results.
Less-than-perfect ratings also make you more competitive — by providing a unique opportunity for you to prove critics wrong. By staying on top of the worst possible things customers have said about you, you get a better idea of where you are and, more importantly, where you can be.
More feedback = more opportunities.
Here’s the bottom line: more feedback equals more opportunities. Listen to the voice of the customer and use it to spur innovation in your organization. And if the ratings you get aren’t as high as you expected? Consider it your lucky day.
While some business owners may complain about tarnished reputations and unfair treatment on websites like Google, Facebook, and TripAdvisor, it will do your business good to welcome these review sites as platforms for changing the conversation about your business — and changing it for the better.