Today’s consumers base the majority of their purchasing decisions and brand sentiment on other people’s opinions. According to one study, 86% of consumers reported that they look at online reviews when they encounter a new business, and 85% confirmed that it had a strong influence on whether or not they bought from them.
It’s quite clear that online reviews are incredibly important to attract and convert new customers. However, one mistake that so many businesses make when it comes to publishing feedback is picking and choosing only the best and most positive reviews.
Obviously, it’s better for brands to focus on sharing positive reviews over negative ones. However, choosing to gloss over less-than-perfect reviews and only showing the best of the best can actually hurt your business more than you realize. Since online reviews are being used to form the foundation of trust between businesses and their customers, it’s important to focus on honesty over pure positivity.
Here are three key reasons why a healthy mix of genuine feedback is far better than a pristine 5-star rating.
1. It comes off as more credible
Customers today are more skeptical than ever. Moreover, they’re very good at spotting when businesses aren’t being totally honest with them. Consumers know that no company is perfect, so if they’re just seeing stellar 5-star ratings that sound too good to be true, it’ll raise some red flags.
Having a good mix of customer reviews that provide the top-to-bottom picture shows a high level of both authenticity and value. In fact, 72% of buyers said that negative reviews actually provided them with deeper insight and better information, and 40% agreed that it made them trust a business more.
However, this blend of good and bad feedback doesn’t just stop with product pages and promotional advertising. It applies to both sides of the spectrum in terms of both customer and employee reviews. When a job candidate is considering applying for an available position, they’ll do some research to learn more about the employee experience.
Employer review sites are typically their primary resource for this information. If they only see glowing, amazing reviews from overjoyed employees, candidates may be a little skeptical.
2. Provides a genuine view of your weak points
Most businesses are scared to death of negative reviews. While a large amount of them will certainly hurt your brand’s reputation, companies should have a positive outlook towards this kind of feedback. The people reviewing your business have no ulterior motives and are completely unbiased third-parties (ideally). Therefore, with genuine feedback, you can get a brutally honest picture of where your areas for improvement are and how to fix them.
No matter what type of business you are, customers will generally share the reasons why they had a poor experience. This can stem from anything like difficulty buying or using the product, a negative interaction with customer service, or an issue with the overall experience.
The good news is this feedback can do more than shed light on your weakest points, it can be an unlikely source for great content that is relevant to your audience or areas that need further attention.
For example, the clothing retailer H&M received thousands of complaints from customers that their sizing was inconsistent and generally ran smaller compared to other brands. Some customers even went viral after posting pictures of themselves in their clothes on social media to prove that the store’s sizing was way off. H&M took this feedback to heart and announced they would be changing their clothing sizes to remain more consistent with traditional measurements.
Rather than ignoring the problem or getting defensive in regards to these bad reviews, H&M used this information to make their brand better.
While not every single negative review will be useful, look for recurring patterns on specific aspects of your business that are influencing this negative sentiment and adjust accordingly.
3. Gives You a Prime Opportunity to Engage with Customers
Believe it or not, bad reviews can actually be a very good thing. It all depends on how you resolve the poor feedback, both privately and publicly. It’s important to note that nearly 90% of customers actually read businesses’ responses to negative reviews. As most of these reviews are public content, it’s a golden opportunity to get in contact with customers and show that you truly care in front of the online world.
Seeing that a customer service agent took the time to respond to an individual and resolve the situation shows that the business cares about its customers and their experiences.
It’s important that the way you respond is both professional and understanding. Be sure to offer a genuine apology for any fault that lies with your company and offer a solution or ask to reach out to the customer privately. By taking the time to apologize and remedy the situation, you may be able to turn that customer’s sentiment around by simply engaging with them one-on-one.
Honesty is the best policy when it comes to online reviews. While great feedback is certainly important for creating a trustworthy brand reputation, businesses should emphasize genuine feedback over everything.
Be sure that you’re making the most of your customer and employee reviews by using them to build trust and using their criticisms to improve. Finally, take advantage of the opportunity for customer engagement by responding to both positive and negative sentiments appropriately. Not only will this help your business’s reputation, it can lay the groundwork for building meaningful relationships with individual customers.