March 10, 2019
I recently had lunch with a good friend of mine who started his own business last year. He’s done well for himself but things haven’t always been easy. The learning curve for a new business can often be steep. I asked him what his biggest surprise had been, and what followed was a story of the first time he received a negative review on a public website. This was in stark contrast to the other reviews his company had received which had, all to that point, been positive.
“My first reaction was fear,” he admitted, “but in the end, I think because of how we dealt with it, our sales actually went up.” This article summarizes his main points on why having (some) negative reviews is a great opportunity for any business.
- People are hard-wired to doubt.
Have you tried to buy something online and found all the reviews a little too perfect? Did you end up buying from that website? Probably not. This is because doubt is in all of us, so we expect to see it reflected, in the services and goods we buy. In fact, according to market research, 52% of buyers trust a product more if they have a few negative reviews. You get nervous if it’s not there and start to question who is actually leaving these reviews.
- People want to feel listened to.
A well-written response to a negative review can be more valuable than even the most carefully crafted mission statement. Why? Because empathizing with a customer’s frustration or disappointment goes a long way. Whether you believe the customer is right or not, simply acknowledging their feelings in the right tone of voice gives you incredible authenticity.
- The power of a deserved apology.
Few words in the English language are more powerful than “I’m sorry.” When warranted, telling a customer that you’ve dropped the ball and that you’re working hard to make sure it never happens again is cathartic to both the business and the reviewer. Owning up to them for all to see is an extremely effective way to add credibility to your business.
- Negative feedback can be a great teacher.
It’s never fun to listen to complaints. However negative reviews can be vital in pointing out areas where your company can improve. Often, it’s an aspect you’ve overlooked or it would have been already been addressed. In addition, many times brainstorming solutions to these challenges leads to new and innovate ideas that can further grow your business.
- Your response to negative feedback can bring in new customers.
The simple truth is no one wants to be treated like a number. People want to know if issues arise you will deal with them fairly, honestly and quickly. Your responses to negative reviews give you a chance to showcase a rather otherwise qualitative feature that all clients find essential—empathy. Instead of a fancy pitch on a website telling them they are valued clients, an individual and public response to negative feedback gives you a way to show it.
My friend, the business owner, told me many of his new clients reference his handling of that negative review as a reason they chose to do business with him.