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Online Ratings and Reviews: Why Negativity Isn't As Bad As You Think

ImageRemember the first time your company received a negative online review? Kind of stung a little bit, didn’t it? Especially if it wasn’t in any way justified. If you haven’t received your first bad internet review, I hate to tell you… but it’s coming. You could have Nordstrom-level customer service, and you will still get an online tongue-lashing from somebody.

But bad reviews aren’t as bad – or rare – as you might think. In today’s Recommendation Age, negative online reviews aren’t just a part of the consumer/company relationship…

They’re actually essential to having a good relationship with your customers.

5 Ways Bad Internet Reviews Can Help You Out

  1. Negative online reviews make you look more authentic. Nobody is perfect. So, when shoppers can only find glowing, five-star reviews about your product, a quiet, barely-there alarm goes off in the back of their heads. They start to feel a little like Jim Carrey in The Truman Show. Everything’s just too… flawless, which doesn’t quite match up with everything else we know about business and consumerism. Having negative reviews actually helps build your credibility as a company.
  2. Negative internet reviews give you an opportunity to showcase your customer service. A customer has just complained about you or your product in a very public setting. You have three options: ignore, retaliate, or be receptive. 99% of the time, your best bet is to be receptive. (The other one percent of the time you should not retaliate, but ignore. Learn how being responsive can work in your favor.) When other shoppers come along, they’ll see that you really do listen and try to help dissatisfied customers.
  3. Think of bad online reviews as free product testing. You’ll find that people have no qualms about letting you know what’s wrong with your product. Be receptive, and use the feedback constructively by fixing the issue(s) with your product. Not only will you be able to offer a better product, but you’ll give the reviewer a sense of ownership in the product once the change has been made. This helps build brand loyalty.
  4. As the saying goes all press is good press. Even Stanford researchers say so. Products and services with more reviews, even if they’re negative, get more clicks than products with fewer or no reviews. According to an eVoc RelevantView report, “63% of consumers indicate they are more likely to purchase from a site if it has ratings and reviews.”
  5. Lastly, negative online reviews provide potential customers with realistic expectations. If all the reviews say “the plastic widget needs to be replaced after a year,” and I make a purchase with this knowledge, then I can’t rationally be upset when I have to replace the plastic widget after one year, right? Negative online reviews can potentially weed out whiny customers that you wouldn’t want to have anyway.

In case you doubt… Here’s the proof online reviews matter.

Still not convinced potential customers put that much weight in some stranger’s opinion? Think again:

  • 83% say online evaluations and reviews influence their purchase decisions (Opinion Research Corporation).
  • 84% trust social media user reviews more than critic’s reviews (Marketing Sherpa).
  • 78% say consumer recommendations are the most credible form of advertising (Nielsen).

So, the next time you get a bad product review, don’t panic. Take it as an opportunity to be an all-star Recommendation Age company.

Have you ever found a bad online review or rating to work out in your favor? If so, I’d love to hear your story. Feel free to share in the comments below!

Join The Conversation

  • Samuel Hum's picture
    Jan 15 Posted 3 years ago Samuel Hum

    Hi Bob,

    Those are some really good points! I agree with all of them; we shouldn't be too concerned with the occasional negative review, as it helps inform us and other customers what's wrong with it, and what needs fixing. 

    As an Android user, I find myself reading a lot of user reviews in the Google Play store, and I'd often download or buy apps even when I see negative comments! I think it definitely adds a level of transparency (that they're not afraid to show the negative comments). Moreover, when they reply to user comments, it helps to reassure some users that they are not ignorant of the comments, and do try to help us out.

    Thanks for writing this!


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