The proper way with negative customer feedback

Once again the importance of reviews for online retail has been proven by a global study: Only the specific product features and the price are more important for consumers when making a purchase decision. [1] Customer reviews make customers feel better informed, the risk of a bad buy decreases and they have the feeling of getting a higher quality product.


Nevertheless, only 15% [2] of companies have a concrete strategy on how to react to reviews. A shortcoming, especially if a rating turns out to be negative. It’s not enough to just collect reviews to do successful referral marketing. The right reaction to the customer’s voice is just as important – especially for critical reviews. Step-by-step we will explain you how to respond to negative reviews and why critical feedback is so important for online retailers.


1. Delete negative review?

The first step with a negative review is to see if the review is justified at all. There is a difference between negative and inadmissible for every critical review. Even with online reviews the customer has the freedom of expression but nevertheless, there are rules to observe when writing a review. If the evaluator claimed false facts, made insulting statements or you are suspecting that the rating is a fake you should report the review to your rating portal to stop the publication. A request for deletion should only be made if you are sure that the review violates the evaluation guidelines. Not every criticism makes a rating inadmissible. Sensitivity and diplomacy are needed.


2. Keep calm

If the negative feedback is justified it is necessary to keep calm. A critical review is not as bad as you think and can even be a benefit for potential customers and your business. The authenticity of the reviews is crucial to be a valuable decision support for shoppers. A rating average of 5.0 stars is more of a hindrance. When there aren’t any negative reviews the interested parties could become suspicious. Mistakes can happen and there is no company in which everything runs smoothly. Your customers know that too. It is therefore not crucial that nothing goes wrong, but how you as a company react to problems.


3. Respond quickly and personally to the review

In a study to the online rating behavior 70% of people who have already written a negative review said that the provider did not respond to their review. This number shows how many companies lack the right strategy when dealing with customer reviews. A fast and professional answer of the company is the most important step when getting a negative review. Although the rating is very emotional, you should stay calm and friendly. Thank for the feedback and address the problem of the evaluator directly. Please apologize for any mistakes on your part and offer the evaluator specific solutions.


It is importantly that the answer is not a copy-and-paste message and that you show the reviewer that his or her individual concern is being taken seriously. Often clients use negative reviews as a spontaneous outlet to relieve displeasure about a problem – without getting in touch with the customer service previously. A personal, solution-oriented response from the company is therefore the ideal way to prove customer-friendliness. For the evaluator it is often enough to feel heard and taken seriously to defuse the situation. A recent study shows how effective the right answer to reviews is: Every fourth negative rating is changed into a positive if the company responds to the criticism of the reviewer. [3] Who takes every review seriously and really takes care about the concerns of the reviewers can turn even dissatisfied customers back into fans.


4. Comment on the rating publicly

The Dialogue with the evaluator is the most important step in the reaction to negative reviews. In particular, for the first contact it may be useful to respond with a public comment. In the comment you can refer to possibilities of further contact, such as mail or telephone. With a visible reaction you show that you have nothing to hide and that you are responsible for your mistakes. At the same time you prove not only the evaluator, but also all readers your interest in a solution of the problem. 90% of online shoppers say that they read business responses. [4] And often potential customers are looking specifically for reviews with low star rating. This is about to check how the company deals with difficulties. An example: A customer awards 1 star because the product has arrived incorrectly. By commenting on the problem and offering a free, easy-to-exchange service, potential customers will see that they can rely on your business for complications.


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5. Learn from mistakes

Negative reviews are a valuable insight into all the processes that can be optimized within your organization. How can the service be improved, how should products and services be redesigned, and what is the right price for your services? Critical reviews can provide answers to all these questions and increase your company’s sales. Because often enough, customer reviews point to problem areas that have been overlooked internally in the company. So use your critical review deliberately as a source for improvement impulses.


Conclusion: Don’t be discouraged by negative reviews

For a moment no company is happy about a negative rating – that’s clear. However, a negative review should not be a reason to turn off the rating feature on the homepage or even stop asking for reviews. Customer reviews are an essential decision-making tool in e-commerce: 20% of online shoppers buy more because of the product reviews and 15% are even willing to buy higher priced products. [5] Anyone who shows initiative and problem-solving orientation when dealing with negative customer voices does not inhibit this effect at all, but even strengthens it. A review portal like EXCELLENT.ORG can simplify the proper handling of reviews. You can collect all your customer reviews in one place, have the opportunity to contact the reviewers (in public and private) and the mediation team will be there to help you with any questions you may have and serve as a protection against inadmissibility.