Turning Negative Customer Reviews to a Positive

“Negative Customer Reviews can be a blessing in disguise if you know how to use them to your advantage.” – sweettoothrewards.com

Every business needs customers and with them come their feelings, behaviours, attitudes, opinions, and the ability to voice each of these. With people practically ‘living’ inside of the online world, it would be imprudent to assume that they would not check out how other people express their feelings about a company / brand, through their reviews. Within America alone, at least 70% people look up reviews before buying anything – and that means that negative customer reviews would be seen too. In fact, people seem more affected and convinced about the negative reviews than the positive ones – as a customer we probably do the same thing.

With so much riding on the opinions of current customers – either one time or long-term, it would be prudent for a company to ensure that they proactively turn negative customer reviews to a positive for their business. Unfortunately, the first reaction of companies to a negative review is usually to defend their business and possibly respond in a manner that is more like a pushback. No doubt negative comments hurt – from a company standpoint, it may have done everything to keep customers (and their employees) happy and hence the negativity seems unjustified. In addition and worse still is the fact that at least 80% customers usually have second thoughts about buying from a company post reading negative customer reviews – that hurts the business big time. Despite the ‘hurt’, it would be a poor business move to respond impolitely or in an overly defensive manner – since prospective customers do not know what your company is about, this kind of a response could be seen as hostile and arrogant. Sure enough, you are not going to attract more customers this way!

Negative customer reviews are not one of those things that any business welcomes or wants – and it is terrifying to know that with online accessibility and visible platforms, customers can vent their ire as often as they want. Smart companies therefore, would use every one of the negative customer reviews as a positive thing for their business. The truth about customers is that, at least 68% customers are more likely to believe the reviews about a company if there is a mix of positive and negative. Only positives seem very suspicious – and only negatives would make customers reject the company outright. A mix makes the reviews seem genuine and customers understand that a company and its products might not be suitable for all but at least a few people have strong happy feelings. For a company, negative customer reviews combined with positive ones means that they have several opportunities to know what customers see as the company’s strengths and weaknesses, and take appropriate action.

Negative customer reviews are the customer’s way of providing feedback and saying that they would be interested in the company if it makes amends. A company that responds prudently and swiftly, makes the necessary changes, and conveys it back to the customers, will find that at least 18% of the customers (as per a study) would become loyal fans – which is a huge advantage in the current competitive market. In addition, prospective customers and possibly an untapped consumer market could respond favourably to the company because of their effective and helpful response to a frustrated customer. This speaks volumes of the kind of customer service that a company would be capable of providing under normal circumstances too. Swift responses are necessary but it would be even better if companies understood their customers well enough to be able to address proactively, possible issues. Understanding customers would prevent breakdown in communication and enable quick fixes to looming problems – a great way to gain market reputation and prevent negative customer reviews, which might damage reputation and business since they are not always be easy to fix.

There are several surveys and studies to show that people are more likely (186% more) to buy from a company post viewing the response from the brand to the vexed customer. That is a lot of business created – and in addition, at least a whopping 92% people would be more likely to buy products from a company that willingly offered discounts, freebies, refunds, and other such incentives to unhappy customers. Negative customer reviews can be turned to a positive if a company handles them swiftly and manages them with efficiency. We are not suggesting that a company should mess up just to display its prowess at making amends – that would be a very bad business decision. There are things that a company can do to keep such negativity to the minimum since there could one such instance that comes as a rude shock and brings everything that the company worked for, down.

It would best to use prevention as a tool. Understanding customers and thinking proactively would help keep negative customer reviews to the minimum. A company must ensure that it is transparent and honest in its dealings, providing the customers with complete information about the products and or services it offers. Putting in place written service level agreements would ensure that the company knows what it should provide and customers know what to expect, such that there are no ‘rude’ surprises on either side. Transparency builds trust and dependability in the mind of customers and they are more likely to stay with a company that gives them reason to trust.

We have mentioned several times, that customer service is subjective because each customer views it depending on her / his feelings, emotions, moods, and specific needs. This effectively means that despite what a company does in the realm of service, it would be impossible to please all their customers at any given time, making negative customer reviews a very real possibility any time. The fact is that companies have to accept this and continue to plough ahead, doing the best they can and attempting to please as large an audience as possible. At all times, every customer must receive quick responses, empathy, and respect, irrespective of whom they speak with in the company and the size of their business with the company. A company’s reputation is built essentially on how it makes customers feel and how well it manages the emotions and moods of each one.

It is a fact of human nature that anything negative is likely to set off panic and hypersensitivity. However, these traits can prove extremely harmful for a company, especially with regard to negative customer reviews. It would be important to stay calm and first respond to the customer at least to say that your company acknowledges their comment and will revert with a detailed response in a fixed timeline. This allows your company enough time to formulate a proper response and put together a viable solution for both the company and its business. Under no circumstance would it be acceptable to ignore the comment or ‘attack’ the customer making the comment. By staying focused on the company’s goals and the customer’s needs, a company would be able to make the right decision in the least amount of time. The idea is to highlight your company’s commitment to keeping customers happy and its willingness to accept responsibility for things that do go haywire.

Negative customer reviews are no doubt disturbing and can throw a company off-guard. It would be best to turn these reviews to a positive by seeing them as valuable feedback and insights into what needs to be fixed in the company and to become stronger and better. Only a customer with some interest in your company would take the trouble to write a review – these customers are a lot better than the silent ones who just leave without telling you what your company did to upset them. Negative customer reviews are not necessarily a bad thing – by embracing them and encouraging customers to remain open and honest with your company, you would be creating a foundation for a strong, robust, sustainable, and profitable business.

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