Can Small Businesses Benefit From Negative Reviews? 3 Insights

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The most important thing for online businesses is their image. Marketers spend a lot of time and money crafting, finessing and ensuring the perfect appearance for their organization. 

However, these years of persona-building can topple over with a few mishandled negative customer reviews. Learn how they affect your reputation, including their surprising benefits.

Impact of Negative Reviews on the Business

A negative review is like a tiny yet visible stain you’ve been trying to remove from your favorite shirt for a long time but won’t come off. Running a business in this era of technology is much simpler than before, but many find maintaining a spotless brand image increasingly challenging.

That’s because people can now post about their experience with a business online. One negative review could dismantle the excellent digital presence you’ve cultivated for years. It can ruin your credibility and break your customers’ and network’s trust, ultimately affecting your bottom line.

Why Negative Reviews Matter

On the bright side, not all negative reviews are red flags. Your rating could take a slight hit from one-star feedback, but it presents many growth opportunities. Here’s why a negative review matters to your business and customers.

1. They Prove You’re Authentic

The FBI recorded over $10.2 billion in losses due to internet scams in 2022 — a massive figure capturing the dark side of the virtual world. Today, it’s easy for criminals to create websites, social media pages, and online stores to pose as credible merchants, luring people to buy non-existent products. Fortunately, the public is more educated now and has learned to scrutinize a potential scam from a genuine retailer by checking the site and reading customer feedback.

Do you remember that one-star rating you dreaded? It’s your antidote for skeptic customers to prove your brand is authentic. Common themes of fraud sellers are surplus 5-star ratings full of excellent feedback, which is impossible because no company is perfect. Your negative feedback can prove your legitimacy.

2. They’re an Opportunity to Improve

Customers perceive your product or service differently from you. Yes, you’ve worked hard to perfect and innovate your product to perfection from packaging to use, but customers may disagree with you and show it through a negative product rating. They may comment how the body lotion they got caused them a skin rash, even if it says hypoallergenic.

While it may not be your fault — the customer could have used it with a different product, causing the interaction — it also allows you to fix the problem and further refine your offer. You can’t sidestep negative feedback and a low star count, so use them as a stepping stone to address your product’s weaknesses or flaws.

3. They Increase Customer Engagement and Loyalty

A positive or negative review is a sign of customer engagement. They’re interacting with you, so they care about your company, but your contact doesn’t end with a poor rating. Many online e-commerce platforms enable buyers to edit their ratings or feedback.

What does this mean for you? You’ve got a golden shot to convert this one-time buyer into a raving fan by solving their dissatisfaction with your product or service.

Did they find the assembling process of the computer unit complicated? Did they have an issue logging into the renewal page to pay for their subscription? You’re building loyal customers by responding to them, isolating the problem, providing a solution and ensuring you offer experience to the point their score goes from one to five.

How to Use Negative Reviews

Many negative reviews contain more than just anger about your business or product. They’re like a fortune cookie — inside, you’ll find valuable clues to take your enterprise to the next level. They’re not pure criticisms but are often dissatisfactions. By getting rid of them, you can solve the customers’ issues.

1. Leverage for Marketing 

Almost 97% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a new business. Since people will see the negative comments anyway, why not make it less damaging to you? People love stories and enjoy ones with a good ending, so turn a criticism into a beautiful problem-solving tale and share it with your social media followers.

Instead of leaving the scrutiny, respond to it so others can read it. You might never know when a bystander is ready to buy but is waiting to figure out how responsive you are. Probe the problem, and include some details and solutions in your comments. If the issue is addressed, encourage the customer to change their rating. End each interaction with a happy customer.

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2. Improve Customer Service

Many businesses overlook after-sales support, but did you know it can affect your revenue? Providing exceptional customer service — including to those who give you a poor rating — has an ROI. Retention is cheaper than acquisition, so retaining this buyer can reduce your expenses.

People also tend to splurge more on companies with satisfactory customer service. If you give them a good experience, they’ll become loyal.

3. Refine the Product or Service

Negative reviews can range from pricing feedback to product criticisms. If someone leaves a three-star rating on your store because the product broke after two weeks, check for issues with manufacturing or shipping. Perhaps the supplier changed. Check if there’s an issue in the warehouse if you’re getting more messages about late shipouts. You can refine your brand with comments from shoppers.

4. Foster a Culture of Growth

Treat negative reviews as important as positive ones because they help you make strides. Did the customer say they love your hair care products because they work great? Awesome! But did someone say the shampoo they bought from you increased their back acne? Check if the formulation has been changed.

Positive and negative reviews are both helpful, but the latter will identify growth points so the enterprise can level up. After all, your customers are the reason your business exists, even if they give bad ratings.

Negative Reviews Can Be Beneficial

Don’t be mad or blame the customer if they leave an unfavorable review of your business. Instead, thank them, inquire about the reason for the poor rating and ask for a chance to rectify their concern. 

Sometimes, they only need a workaround to turn a one-star review into a five-star. Buyers will have a different experience with your product or service than you, so embrace negative feedback and use it as an agency for growth.

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