What to do with negative reviews is one of the biggest conundrums with implementing a customer review system on your website. It’s great when your customers are saying nice things about your product: these comments allow shoppers to get information on what real customers are saying about your products and help to push them toward clicking “Add to Cart.”
Negative reviews seem counterproductive in comparison. After all, you added a customer review feature to your site to benefit your business. You wanted to increase dwell times, boost sales, make customers feel more engaged, and improve the overall shopper experience. When negative reviews come into the mix, they could boost dwell times, but they certainly aren’t going to help your sales. Why not just remove them as they occur? We’re going to teach you something that will seriously challenge that logic.
Why Negative Reviews Happen
Negative reviews help your brand more than they hurt it. There are several reasons why this counterintuitive statement is true. First, let’s talk about a fundamental truth in e-commerce: nothing gets unanimous appeal. From movies to music to clothing to electronics, nothing will ever have a 100% approval rating. If you are running a business, negative reviews are guaranteed.
While some businesses see negative reviews as their kryptonite and trip over themselves in their haste to hit “Delete,” a negative review could be due to multiple factors. Perhaps a customer got a defective product. Maybe the product is fine, but a customer is giving a negative review because they waited weeks to get their shipment. A negative review could even be due to something as simple as a misleading sizing chart or a product photograph that didn’t accurately portray the color of the item.
If you maintain your high product and service standards, negative reviews aren’t necessarily a problem. Here are three of the biggest arguments for why they help your business more than they hurt it.
How Negative Reviews Help Your Business
1. Negative points of view prove that your reviews are real.
This point is the most important reason why you shouldn’t delete any negative reviews that show up on your product pages. No product and no brand is capable of eliciting true 100% approval. If all your products have perfect five-star ratings and glowing reviews, customers will get suspicious that the reviews were either bought or planted by your brand. This “fake reviews” assumption will do no favors to your brand image or your relationships with customers.
Your shoppers will also notice if you start deleting negative reviews. The reviewers who leave negative comments will notice if their reviews never go live and deduce the rest. If you delete reviews after they’ve been published, you run the risk of a shopper reading a negative review and then coming back later only to notice that it’s missing. That kind of second interaction can deteriorate brand trust entirely.
You always want your customers to trust you, and censoring their opinions is not the way to get there. Customers will only trust your positive reviews if they see a few negative or neutral reviews, too. In the video below George talks about a pair of Saucony trainers providing both positives and negatives about the product.
2. Negative reviews serve as cues to offer helpful customer service.
More than just showing that your brand has thick skin and can take criticism, negative reviews highlight areas in which customer service is necessary. Most of the problems we discussed earlier in this post—defective product, slow shipping, wrong sizes, misleading colors—can be easily resolved with a quick customer service exchange.
By giving buyers a public place to share complaints or concerns about your brand, you also give yourself a “message board” through which you can respond to customers who had a negative experience. When a negative review comes through, comment on it, apologize for the customer’s experience, and offer to make it right. Offer to replace or exchange the product with a working model or a different color or size. Alternatively, you might offer store credit, discounts, or free shipping.
How you respond and make things right should depend on the magnitude of the customer’s complaints. However, the core benefit of this tactic is twofold. First, it gives you a chance to take a customer’s negative experience and turn it into a positive one. Second, it lets you show off your customer service publicly so that other shoppers can see that you care about helping dissatisfied customers.
3. Negative reviews give you valuable feedback on your products.
If you only listen to negative reviews and ignore the positive ones, you will be caught in an echo chamber in which you never acknowledge other points of view. By not only keeping negative reviews around but also reading them and engaging with them, you acknowledge criticism of your products or your overall customer experience. You can use this feedback to improve the shopping experience on your website, whether that means revising a sizing chart or offering multiple different shipping options. And when it comes time to create new products or upgrade old ones, you’ll know which weaknesses to target.