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Why bad reviews are the secret to more sales

Published on 26 November, 2019

“How do I remove negative reviews?” is now one of the most searched questions in Google when it comes to researching customer feedback.

Seriously, stop asking the internet how to get rid of your bad reviews! It’s not big, it’s not clever, and it’s potentially damaging your business.

5x more shoppers look for negative feedback when deciding what to buy, and when they can’t find any, they get suspicious. So instead of asking how to get rid, you should be asking yourself: “how can I use my bad reviews to sell more stuff?”

I know on the face of it that can sound a little daunting, but trust us, reviews are our thing. 

Your business needs more bad reviews. And here’s why…

Woah, woah, woah…but surely bad reviews put customers off?

Far from it. Our own research showed more than half of shoppers don’t trust a business if they can’t find any bad reviews. Shoppers use the negative experiences of others to get a more balanced view on what you have to offer, and the majority of the time it’ll be how you’ve dealt with these negative experiences that can sway them in your favour.

Yet despite the emphasis customers place on negative reviews, so many businesses still run scared of them. One study by Baynard Institute found that 87% of businesses refuse to even acknowledge customers who’ve left them unfavourable feedback.

Which begs the question: Don’t businesses want to know why their customers are having a bad time? And shouldn’t they want to do something about it? *

*You probably shouldn’t read on by the way if you think the answer to either of these is “no”

Ok, so how can bad reviews help me?

1. Show off how great your customer service team is

Every bad review is a chance for your customer service team to shine. Getting back to customers quickly, giving helpful answers and even a simple bit of kindness can go a long way towards defusing most situations.

$62 billion a year is being lost to bad customer service.

52% of shoppers make an additional purchase from a brand after having a positive customer service experience. But time is of the essence. Shoppers aren’t as patient as they used to be. A further 53.3% expect a response to their negative review within seven days, and you’d better believe that if you ignore them, they’re going to head elsewhere.

So, what are you waiting for? Good or bad, every review is your opportunity to show off your business and get customers, new and old, back on side. And the quicker you resolve the issues, the more they’ll be willing to come back and spend with you in the future.

It’s between 5 and 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customers than retain an existing one

At the end of the day, customers just want to feel heard. So, give them a platform to do it. Don’t let them vent to their friends or all over their social media. Encourage them to tell you directly. That way, you control the conversation and start to learn a little more about your business in the process.


How to respond to negative reviews


2. Put your bad reviews in the spotlight

Despite efforts to clean up the industry, it’s never been easier for businesses to buy fake reviews on open platforms like Amazon, and suddenly shoppers are starting to get nervous.

Now, all those perfect five-star reviews your business has been collecting seem a little “too good to be true”. But as strange as it sounds, the odd bad review might be the answer!

52% of shoppers get suspicious if they can’t find any negative feedback for a business online. So, be brave and give them the chance to see your business, warts and all, by putting your bad reviews front and centre!

Being able to read a mix of good and bad comments from other customers proves the authenticity of your company and actually gives shoppers the confidence they need to hit that “buy” button.

“So, what is the perfect score to help me sell more stuff?”

As with most things, it’s a balancing act. Too many good reviews and you run the risk of not being believed; too many negative reviews and shoppers start to worry.

There’s no golden ratio, but somewhere between 4 and 4.9 stars is where you want to be aiming.

Salon Services saw a 173% increase in sales on products scoring between 4-4.9 stars Vs. those with 5-stars

Want to take it that one step further?

Some brands are so proud of their bad reviews that they’ve started using them as part of their marketing. Channel 4 recently shared some of their more undesirable complaints as a clever way of proving that they’re still producing challenging and divisive content for their audience. 

3. Stop ignoring unhappy customers – there’s a reason they’re upset

It’s easy to take your reviews, and the people who leave them, for granted. Stars equal trust. Trust equals sales. Job done!

But look beyond the stars at what’s really being said and there’s a whole world of useful insight to discover.

More often than not, the worse the experience someone has had with you, the more there is to learn about how to improve for next time.

Amazingly, 42% of businesses still don’t listen to their customers at all. Look, we get it, taking criticism isn’t always the easiest, or nicest, thing to do. But whether you’re collecting reviews, running surveys or listening in on social media, what your customers are saying about you, good or bad, is your best bet of finding out what’s really going on with your business.

And when we do start to listen to our customers, it can be incredibly powerful. Apple used NPS surveys to identify detractors and issues with their in-store experience. They used what they’d found to generate over $25 million in additional revenue by reaching out and engaging with these customers to solve their problems and entice them back time and again.

Taking the bad with the good

Bad reviews can be scary. It’s never nice hearing about what you’ve done wrong. But trust us, every review, comment and criticism can be turned to your advantage.

Instead of running from your unhappy customers, meet them head on! A friendly, quick, helpful response will get you out of most sticky situations and play a big part in keeping customers around for longer.

Instead of hiding your one and two-star reviews, put them front and centre for shoppers to find. A mix of positive and negative feedback is refreshingly honest for consumers who’ve become increasingly wary of fake reviews and cowboy companies.

Instead of ignoring every complaint, take the time to listen and learn from your mistakes. Every bad review offers you some amazing free advice that could potentially help you solve a problem, save at-risk customers or even strike upon an idea that brings new clients flooding through the door.


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