6 Ways to Spin Negative Customer Reviews into a Win
09:07 25 November 2021
Did you know that 87% of eCommerce businesses don’t respond to negative feedback? Anyone who’s received a bad review can understand the impulse to ignore them - you don’t want to draw attention to a few anomalous issues when you can showcase a far greater number of happy customers.
However, contrary to expectations, negative reviews can have positive results for your business. They add credibility to your organization by showing you have nothing to hide. Consumers are well aware that some companies fake their testimonials, so a mixture of positive and negative reviews reads as authentic and trustworthy.
Negative reviews are also important information for customers looking to make the right purchase decision. They can highlight situations in which a product may not be the best choice and help future buyers to avoid mismatched expectations.
Most importantly, negative feedback presents you with a unique opportunity to demonstrate customer-centric values and great customer service. A company that gets it right all the time is rarely newsworthy, but a company that goes to great lengths to make up for a mistake can be the hero of the day.
Read on to learn why ignoring negative feedback could be one of your biggest eCommerce marketing mistakes.
1. Encourage Honest Reviews
The quantity of reviews matters. According to Power Reviews, 53% of shoppers read between one and 10 reviews before making a purchasing decision. This means the best way to counter any negative reviews is by encouraging a steady stream of positive ones.
Let your customers know how they can review their purchases, be this via product pages, social media, Google, or third-party services such as Trustpilot. Using platforms such as Facebook or Instagram to collect and share reviews can boost your brand’s visibility and popularity.
Don’t choose a CTA that reads as arrogant, such as “don’t forget to rate us five stars”, but show genuine interest in your customers’ opinions with statements like “help us to improve our service”.
Perhaps the best way to encourage buyers to leave reviews is to publish them - even the negative ones. This shows you’re genuinely asking for opinions rather than seeking social proof. If site users can see positive customer service interactions in the review section, they’ll feel better about expressing their experience.
Furthermore, Baymard Institute found that 53% of site users actively seek negative reviews before making a decision. Therefore a variety of reviews could be more informative and enticing for prospective buyers than five stars across the board.
2. Respond Quickly
The same study discovered that 37% of users factored in businesses’ responses to negative reviews as part of their evaluation of a product or service. Timely and professional responses are crucial, and brands that are quick to reply to negative reviews are better at retaining customers.
With social media an accepted norm as a customer service platform, consumers now expect responses to their queries or complaints within 30 minutes. Letting a complaint go unanswered for too long could add further fuel to a disgruntled customer’s fire.
A quick response can tap into the raw emotion a customer experiences when leaving a bad review and turn it on its head, leaving them feeling genuinely seen. In comparison, a response left weeks or months later is likely to fall on deaf ears, as the customer will already have formed a negative opinion of your company.
3. Respond Publicly
One aspect that makes reviews and testimonials so potent is the fact they’re public. It benefits companies to respond with this in mind, publicly demonstrating the kind of care and attention you offer existing customers.
In a survey of over 500 firms, nearly 42 percent of respondents stated the way they handled negative reviews had a direct influence on their reputation. Make the most of your bad reviews by providing a well-thought-through initial response that can be viewed by future customers.
Make your responses stand out by displaying them in a different style to the reviews themselves. This could be a different color text or background or the addition of a company logo to published responses. Consider using the name and company role of the respondent to add a human touch.
These small details will immediately jump out to a potential customer scanning reviews, showing at a glance how frequently you respond to customers’ concerns.
Don’t use a copy-paste template for your responses, as this can make them look like token gestures without any thought behind them. Make sure you include your customer’s name, a reference to their specific concern, and thanks for sharing their experience with you.
Offer an easy way for them to continue the conversation - for example, an email address, a number for an inbound call, or an invitation to send direct messages on social media.
4. Answer Thoroughly
Sometimes an issue can be addressed completely with an initial public response. However, in many cases, you can show an extra level of care by directing your customer to the appropriate team member via email or IP phone, who will give them a thorough response and offer a resolution.
The correct response will vary according to the nature of the negative review. However, there is almost always a way to sweeten the deal and leave customers impressed by your follow-up.
If a bad review hinges around the customer disliking a product, respond by assuring them that their notes have been passed on to the relevant team. In reality, most of these reviews come down to mismatched expectations rather than a bad product, so consider placating your client by offering a free sample or discount on a product you think will better suit their needs.
Likewise, a reviewer experiencing problems with your app or software product could be passed on to a member of your dedicated development team to troubleshoot the issue.
If a customer has a problem with the post-checkout process, such as shipping or delivery, your first port of call should be to quickly rectify the issue at hand. Give them a direct line to your small business phone system, where they can speak to a customer service agent in real-time, and offer free next-day shipping or a discount on future orders to help convince them they can safely buy from you again.
Some complaints will be about your eCommerce store’s policies, such as returns or turnaround times. While these should be clearly displayed on your website, it doesn’t mean every customer will read them thoroughly. If a customer is angry because they missed the returns window or didn’t receive their package in time for an event, reiterate your policy clearly in your response to help future shoppers understand the parameters.
5. Ask for Feedback
Remind customers of your commitment to an ongoing conversation by requesting feedback on the resolution process itself. This could be via a personal follow-up email, a third-party survey, or asking them to comment on their previous review stating their satisfaction. While the original review may be one or two stars, you can still earn five stars for customer service.
The majority of customers are grateful for your time and commitment to solving their issue and will be more likely to remember the positive shopping experience that you tailored to their needs than the initial issue. If they can give a testimonial stating you solved their problem efficiently and empathetically, this could be worth even more than an initial good review.
With 52% of consumers making additional purchases from a company after a positive customer service experience, developing a reputation for solving customer queries can significantly impact customer retention.
What’s more, with 86% of consumers willing to pay more for a product from a company with great customer experience, focusing on public and professional responses can also increase new leads.
6. Improve Accordingly
Of course, the work doesn’t stop when your customer is satisfied. Unless you take bad reviews into careful consideration when planning product or process improvements, you’re missing out on one of the greatest benefits of negative feedback: a genuine chance to better your service.
For example, if one or more customers have left scathing reviews of your delivery process, examine the issue carefully and take it back to the drawing board. Perhaps this involves commissioning a different courier service or offering a variety of delivery options to suit different customers’ needs.
If multiple customers demand returns because the product doesn’t meet their expectations, look at how you’re managing those expectations. Consider including more thorough product information and better photographs on product pages. Perhaps add product recommendation software to your site to help future customers find a better match.
A strong and flexible returns policy can also calm customers before they offload in the reviews, so think about including a self-adhesive return label with all the necessary information so customers can send the item back immediately if they realize there’s been a mistake.
Likewise, you may discover from your negative reviews that customers can’t contact your company with their queries and resort to leaving negative feedback instead. In this case, try leveling up your VoIP marketing strategy by reducing barriers between your brand and its customers.
Consider making a statement on your website, socials, or setting up an automated email marketing campaign when you improve a process, reminding customers that this was thanks to their feedback. This completes the circle, making shoppers feel heard and increasing their trust in your brand.
It’s time to stop seeing negative feedback as a problem, and start seeing it as a key part of your strategy. After all, each bad review is unfiltered information about your customers’ experiences with your products and services. Use it wisely to revise and revamp your offerings, and you’ll be rewarded with better reviews in the future.
Whether you’re new to marketing and still searching for a performance based marketing definition or you’re confidently creating marketing campaigns, customer reviews are key to growing your brand and reputation. Maybe it’s time to take another look at those one-star reviews - if you have the guts to face them head-on, they might just be game-changers.
John Allen - Director, SEO, 8x8
John Allen is the Director of SEO for 8x8, a leading Gartner Magic Quadrant VoIP communication platform with integrated contact center, voice, video, and chat functionality. John is a marketing professional with over 14 years of experience in the field, and an extensive background in building and optimizing digital marketing programs across SEM, SEO, and a myriad of services. This is his LinkedIn.