Online reviews have an effect on your brand’s reputation – and brand reputation has an effect on sales. Social media is one of the major ways people learn about and evaluate brands. If people know, like, and trust your brand, they will buy from you. Unfortunately, though, the opposite is also true – too much negative feedback can adversely affect your bottom line.
Understandably, bad reviews are a source of fear for many business owners and marketers. But while negative reviews may feel like the end of the world for your brand, they can, in fact, be used to position your company for increased success.
Since so few unhappy customers will actually complain to the business itself, a negative review is a golden opportunity to understand what went wrong. Think of it as valuable data that you can put to work for your business.
Not sure what we mean? Here are some ways you can use negative feedback (from customers or employees) to your advantage:
Customer complaints offer an opportunity to save relationships. How can you fix an issue for your customers if you don’t even realize it exists?
Responding to that unhappy customer and taking the time to understand what went wrong will provide valuable insight into what’s working and what’s not. If customers complain about the service they got in your restaurant, take the time to find out why. Are your servers knowledgeable about allergies? Do they know the wine list like the back of their hand? If the answer is no, then you might need to consider some additional training to bring them up to speed.
There are many reasons why customers will purchase a product from you. Packaging, advertising, customer service and product features all matter. When real customers provide candid feedback about what they didn’t like about your product, you should listen.
Listen with an open mind and without becoming defensive, so you can understand if there is a real issue with your product, or a disconnect between customers’ expectations/assumptions (in which case you need to improve communications).
If you’re an online clothing retailer, for example, customer reviews could tip you off to a sizing or quality issue with your garments. Armed with this knowledge, you can add a measurement chart to help customers order the right size (and manage their sizing expectations). Or, if there’s a quality issue, you may need to seek out a better supplier.
While it’s never easy to hear where your offering falls short or fails to meet customer expectations, this feedback offers specific areas of improvement that will actually matter to your customer.
Negative feedback often reveals a disconnect between brand messaging and reality. Are you unintentionally making false promises or creating unrealistic expectations? Are you targeting the right audience?
Brand perception sets the tone for your customer relationships. So, understanding how they view your product or service is the first step to creating a brand people will love.
Bad reviews may show that your product is not the luxury item you thought it was. Maybe your audience thought your last ad campaign was unfunny or even offensive. Honest feedback from customers helps you re-focus your marketing efforts, put your advertising dollars where they matter, and make better connections with your ideal customers and clients.
Ultimately, giving customers a platform to tell you about their experience – bad or good – shows them that you care. And using their suggestions to provide better service, better products, and better messaging – that’s the path to brand loyalty.
No one should expect 100% positive feedback – it’s simply unrealistic. So, for the unhappy customer, it’s not what went wrong that matters, it’s how you handle it that makes all the difference.
All reviews are valuable for your brand. Positive reviews can lead to higher search engine rankings and more purchases. Negative reviews teach you where to improve. By learning to embrace all feedback, you put your brand in a position to win.