Here’s How to Handle Negative Reviews

July 17, 2019 by Rahul Chadha

Your latest product just got a less than stellar review. A disappointment? Sure.

But don’t hit the panic button just yet. Believe it or not, this might be an opportunity in disguise.

All reviews, even bad ones, can potentially provide valuable feedback about your business and products. Companies spend a lot of time and money trying to gain customer insights from things like focus groups, surveys, and social media monitoring. You’re getting it for free.

If you’re properly attuned to capturing this feedback from product reviews, you can learn about potential problems with your business—before they get out of hand.

It’s Not Always About Product

Bad reviews aren’t always focused on product. They can also reveal shortcomings in your online store’s operations. A report from Brightpearl and Trustpilot highlighted some potential customer pain points that were unrelated to the actual goods for sale.1

The list included things like website user experience, payment options, delivery issues, customer service, after-sales experience, and returns. When online stores get one of these things wrong, their customers might make their dissatisfaction known in a public product review instead of a private email.

Retailers should be scanning reviews for this type of insight to figure out where to better allocate resources. The Brightpearl/Trustpilot study revealed that positive reviews often mentioned good customer service and fast delivery, two areas where all eCommerce sites should already make a priority.

The Poor Review Paradox

It sounds weird, but in addition to giving you valuable feedback, poor reviews can also help build trust in your digital storefront.

How? Online shoppers are pretty sophisticated. As a result, products with a perfect record of five-star ratings arouse suspicion. Shoppers seem to intuitively grasp that—try as you might—you just can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Having a handful of low star-ratings can actually alleviate shopper concerns that an eCommerce site is gaming its own ratings and reviews. And that, in turn, can increase trust in an online store. It’s what we call the Poor Review Paradox.

Our research paper, The State of Consumer Generated Content 2019, showed that negative reviews can serve a key role in the path to purchase for a sizable minority of shoppers.

Twenty-five percent of respondents actually sorted product reviews to highlight bad reviews. For these shoppers, researching negative feedback was a key element of the customer journey. As a result, it pays to ensure these reviews aren’t left unanswered.

How to Handle Negative Feedback

Every negative review should receive a response from your company. The simple act of acknowledging shoppers’ concerns demonstrates a customer-centric attitude and a high level of customer service.

Here are some key methods for handling negative reviews:

Speed is Key. By responding quickly to bad reviews, companies can clearly and publicly demonstrate their responsiveness and commitment to customer service. The Brightpearl/Trustpilot survey found that nearly 40% of shoppers felt that retailers should respond to a negative review within 24 hours or less of posting.

Make the Customer Feel Heard. Go beyond a rote apology. These types of reflexive platitudes can do more harm than good. Instead, make sure your customer service reps understand the problem and are empowered to take the steps needed to correct it. That might mean refunding a shipping cost when an order shows up late, or replacing a defective item.

Turn Complainers into Evangelists. You’ve probably seen a customer give a poor initial review, only to bump up their star rating to a five after receiving a solid customer service effort. A response to a shopper complaint that goes above and beyond can make your detractors some of your fiercest evangelists, and that word-of-mouth marketing can go a long way.

Get More Reviews. Most reviews come from customers who’ve had a very bad experience or those who are ecstatic about their purchase. But there’s usually a “happy middle” of customers who are pleased with their purchase but don’t bother to leave a review.

TurnTo’s products are designed to tap into this slow-to-review segment with features like Inbox Submission, which lets customers submit rating and review content directly from the body of an email. A higher rating and review volume usually translates into a higher average star rating for a product, giving site browsers the social proof they need to become buyers.

Use Moderation Tools to Escalate. With TurnTo Moderation, clients can have reviews with low star ratings automatically flagged for escalation to customer service representatives. That can give your company the jump on fixing a problem. And as we already mentioned, speed is key when it comes to responding to negative reviews.

Make a Preemptive Strike. Perhaps the best way to handle negative reviews is by not giving your customers a reason to leave one in the first place. TurnTo’s Community Q&A product lets shoppers ask questions of people who’ve already purchased the product they’re considering. It can also connect shoppers to your site’s existing knowledgebase—things like frequently asked question (FAQ) pages and existing articles that might hold the answers to their questions. Getting shoppers these answers can help them avoid a disappointing purchase.

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Sources:

1 Rise of the Review Culture; Brightpearl and Trustpilot, June 2019

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