Why do you need negative feedback?

Customer reviews are important. You know, 5 stars on Google or Facebook can be a magnet for customers. But what if there are fewer stars? Should you want to have as many reviews as possible, or is it better to have fewer reviews, but only positive ones?


It’s best to have a lot of very good reviews – and let’s face it, it’s worth striving for. But I’ve already written about this in a few other places – here, here, and here. Today I want to focus solely on negative, more or less critical, unfavorable, “heter” opinions…

The reason why various services allow issuing opinions is to protect buyers from dishonest sellers, unreliable service providers, and bad products. So the purpose is very positive, and from a customer’s point of view, you are probably happy to read the opinions of other buyers who have tested a particular company or offer before you.

Bad reviews are made by bad customers ?

It’s worse if you’re the seller. You probably put a lot of time and effort into what you do, so you wouldn’t want “some hater” to undermine your efforts and their effects, and on top of that, to do it in public. When you find a negative comment on your Google profile, Facebook profile, or any other Allegro page (especially the first one, but it’s not much better with the others), you may react with anger and a sense of hurt. You may feel hurt, indignant, or helpless – and this is completely regardless of whether the negative review was justified or not.

Your first reaction is often disbelief. Why? Because the customers you interact with on a daily basis don’t give feedback, or at least they don’t do it directly. In face-to-face interactions, people tend to be less candid because they don’t want to make others uncomfortable. Therefore, a business owner may not even know for years what customers don’t like about his services or products. He lives in his bubble, convinced that what he does, he does as well as possible.

So if there is suddenly a “negative“, surely there must be “jealous competition” behind it. This is one of the first thoughts that come to mind in such a moment, and as you can easily see by reading reactions to negative opinions, it is what many entrepreneurs (unfortunately) stop at.

The second justification is “hate”. If someone doesn’t like something, it’s because he or she is probably one of those difficult customers – picky, looking for holes in the whole, perpetually dissatisfied. After all, it is not possible for someone who is a “normal”, common-sense customer to go so far as to issue critical reviews on some portal. Who “normal” would have time for that?

Bad reviews are given by those who care

Contrary to popular belief, and above all contrary to the unpleasant feelings created by reviews that are critical of our company, at least some of the negative reviews do not come from haters, competitors, or “picky” customers. Those who are willing to write a review and devote their time to describing unpleasant experiences are often the most loyal, most committed customers.

These types of customers write reviews not to give vent to their negative emotions, but to draw the company’s attention to the problem. So very often there are positive intentions behind it.

Imagine a customer who has been coming to their favorite coffee shop for years for a strong espresso served by a friendly and dedicated barista, only to get a lukewarm coffee from an employee who yells at customers to pick up their orders faster. The feedback from this customer can be an attempt to draw attention to the problem, and also a warning that a lack of control over product quality and employee behavior can be very damaging to the business.

  • For the owner, these can be very valuable tips, but on condition that:
  • Reads customer feedback,
    does not treat them personally,
  • He cares about drawing positive conclusions.
  • The form in which customers express their dissatisfaction is not always balanced – this is a fact. This is probably due to the persistent belief in our society that if we do not react sharply, no one will pay attention to us (according to the principle that you have to fight for your own, argue, etc.).

Although it is difficult, when reading such reviews, we should focus not on the form but on the content. So, instead of immediately assuming that “it’s definitely a hater”, try to determine what this person is actually about. What is the gist of their accusation? Is there anything wrong with the situation? How would you feel if you were in their shoes? Yes, empathy comes in very handy at this point.

Reviews are a free market research

It’s great to have good feedback, but when there’s bad feedback, let’s try to get something positive out of it too. Think about it: if you wanted to conduct market research or hire a mystery shopper, it would cost a lot of money.

Meanwhile, in the case of reviews, customers themselves, on their own initiative, give feedback on products and services. Therefore, the more opinions, the more material for analysis.

So my suggestion is this. Take your customers’ feedback seriously. Based on them, try to determine what you could improve and how. Sure, some of the opinions may be contradictory. Besides, what is a disadvantage for some, will be an asset for others (like thick/thin crust pizza).

However, the more opinions you have, the easier it is to draw aggregate conclusions. When there are enough of them, you can easily determine what problems customers most often point out, what employee behavior they praise and what annoys them, what suggestions for change appear in their reviews. You can also try to group the comments into categories, such as “customer service” or “quality of service/products”, and later clarify the subgroups (e.g. service culture, waiting time for service, etc.).

Also, consider that a customer who gives feedback is often open to conversation, and that means we can get more information out of them.

What is the reason for such a low rating?

  • Could you describe the situation in more detail in an email?
  • What do you think our employees should do in this situation?
  • By asking similar questions, we make it clear that we are seriously interested in improving the quality of our services. This is a good signal both from the critic’s point of view and for other people who will read this exchange of opinions in the future (on Google, Facebook, or somewhere else).


Your reaction can be the best advertising

A few years ago, TripAdvisor asked its users what they looked for when they booked hotels online. Of course, reviews from other customers were important. But something else was extremely important to a large number of respondents – namely, how hotels respond to negative reviews.

Why is this so important? Because it addresses our concerns about whether we’ll be helped if something goes wrong. For the same reason, before I buy something on Allegro, I read reviews about the seller. But not all of them! I am interested only in the negative ones – I check what they were about and how the seller reacted to them. Did he try to solve the problem or did he rather put the blame on the customer? Because if it was the latter, I would rather not be in the shoes of a buyer who, for example, received defective goods…

And this is how it works. When replying to someone who at first seems to us to be a “hater”, we should remember that our reply will be read not only by him. Other potential customers will form an opinion about our company and the culture among its employees based on our response.

Of course, haters also happen. But first of all – not as often as we sometimes think (unless we are heroes from the front pages of newspapers). And secondly, sometimes even in the form of a hater, there is a grain of truth. However, the height is, above all, unjustified malice, aggression, which aims to provoke the recipient to confront. And this is different than the public expression of dissatisfaction with the quality of the product, service, or customer service. So it’s worth not mixing up these two different types of content – criticism and heckling are two different things.

Where do loyal customers come from?

When I manage a Facebook account for one of the companies, I also respond on their behalf to messages from customers. It once happened that a customer gave a negative review, full of strong emotions. Such reviews, full of anger, are reluctant to answer, but well – you have to. So I asked what the problem was. When the emotions subsided, I proposed a solution. The matter was solved. The result? The customer changed her one-star rating to five stars. She changed her rating by 180 degrees.

This is how loyal customers are born. A well-handled complaint can be the best way to turn an unhappy customer into a brand ambassador. Remember that this “demanding” customer is often also the one most involved in spreading opinions about the company, e.g. among their friends. It is worth having him on your side.

More reviews – average ratings go up

But let’s answer the question posed at the beginning. Is quantity more important than quality? Of course – it depends! If the majority of reviews are negative and the company does not intend to react to them, it is probably not worth it. However, if we consider reviews as an indicator of quality in the process of striving for excellence, if we want to interact with customers and learn from their reviews – online reviews can help us a lot.

If we approach customer service seriously, treating reviews as an element of building a brand reputation on the Internet – then yes – the more reviews, the better. It is also usually the case that when there are many reviews, and the company cares about customer satisfaction, the average score is about 4.5. However, to achieve such an effect with a large number of reviews, it is worth encouraging those customers who declare their satisfaction to give us feedback. Simply – ask them for it.

It is important for you to see in reviews a marketing tool, perhaps the most effective and at the same time the cheapest of all you could consider.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *