Negative reviews are a fact of life for businesses — even the most customer-focused ones. No matter how great a product or service is, it’s simply impossible to please every person every single time.
Negative reviews may be unavoidable, but that doesn’t businesses welcome them. That’s because this content can do some serious damage to your brand. In fact, our last blog took a closer look at how bad reviews can negatively impact your customer relationships, sales and reputation.
But is one bad review really going to cause lasting damage? The short answer: it depends.
In order to minimize the damage of one bad review, brands must adopt a proactive approach to negative reviews that gives priority to the most concerning content. This blog will explore how to do just that.
Not all Negative Reviews are Equal
When developing an approach to managing negative reviews, it’s important to remember that not all bad reviews are the same. While some are cause for concern, most are relatively harmless.
One bad review can reflect personal preferences
Sometimes, a negative review simply reflects the tastes and preferences of an individual consumer. For example, this customer left a one-star review for Starbucks cold brew concentrate, indicating it “tastes horrible” and “literally tastes like straight up medicine…”
This customer, on the other hand, wrote a five-star review for the exact same product, indicating “the taste is amazing.”
One bad review can be the result of a one-off issue
In some cases, a negative review can point to a legitimate, but isolated issue. For example, this reviewer said that her bag of potato chips were “crushed to dust” in transit. Of course, the brand should examine their reviews as a whole to ensure this isn’t a common problem. If it’s not, the brand can avoid a damaged reputation by responding to the review and offering to replace the damaged product.
One bad review can be due to user error
In some instances, a customer doesn’t use a product as it was intended. As a result, they don’t have a great experience, and they may write a negative review. The brand can turn the situation around (and avoid a return) by offering some helpful tips.
In the example below, Korin A. left a one-star review indicating her robot cat litter box often gets stuck and is smelly.
The brand responded to Korin, letting her know that both of her issues may be related to the type of cat litter she’s using. Ideally, Korin will try the product with a different type of litter and will have better results. And the brand will avoid a return.
Additionally, this shopper, Gmoo, left a one-star review for a toy truck. But if you take a look at the text of the review, she indicates it was “Absolutely a huge hit with our grandson!” In this case, the one-star rating seems to be a mistake. Though it may bring the product’s average star rating down a bit, this review isn’t going to cause any significant damage, especially as the product continues to generate more reviews. In time, other positive reviews (with higher star ratings), will drown out this outlier.
One bad review can be indicative of a larger health or safety issue
Sometimes, a bad review can point to a bigger issue that can have serious, lasting damage to a brand and its customers.
For example, this customer, Katie+4, said a diaper rash cream caused her children to “break out in severe chemical burns and hives…” That’s a pretty serious issue! For the sake of safety (and FDA compliance), the brand will need to investigate further.
And in this one-star review, the customer said the power strip she bought caught on fire. Again, it’s imperative that the company investigate this issue further to protect its customers — and its reputation.
Finally, here’s a negative review for a store location that has the potential to cause a lot of damage. This shopper, Clint, gave the store location a one star review, indicating “Mall security is not enforcing mask guidelines.” In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, health and safety is top of mind. This company will need to look at their reviews as a whole to ensure this isn’t a larger problem.
How to Segment Negative Reviews
As the examples above illustrate, not all negative reviews are the same. When you’re managing your negative reviews, it’s important to give priority to the ones that have the potential to cause the most damage.
Here are a few ways you can segment your negative reviews to ensure the most critical ones are prioritized.
Prioritize by Star Rating
The easiest way to spot a bad review is to look for the star rating. Generally, one and two star reviews are considered bad, four or five star reviews are good and three star reviews are considered neutral.
But there are degrees of bad. For example, a customer who writes a two star review is probably less upset than one who writes a one star review. That’s why it’s a best practice to give priority to the reviews with the lowest star ratings. This is especially true if the product in question has a low volume of reviews. Think about it: if you have very few reviews for a product and receive just one bad review, it’ll have a big impact on your average star rating. And according to our friends at Yotpo, the lower the star rating, the less likely a shopper is to purchase the product.
Prioritize Reviews that Mention Health and Safety Concerns
Let’s say a health and beauty brand receives two one star reviews for a face cream. The chief complaint of the first reviewer is that the packaging was smaller than she expected for the price. The second reviewer, on the other hand, goes into detail about how her face broke into hives after using the product.
Both of these reviews warrant a response. But the second review should be prioritized, as it deals with the health and safety of the brand’s customers. In addition to responding to the review, the brand must take a closer look at all of their reviews for this product to ensure this issue isn’t part of a larger trend.
If you’re a Reputation Studio customer, you can create a list of negative keywords and get alerted anytime you get a review that includes one of those words. For example, the health and beauty brand in our last example could set alerts so they’re notified every time a review includes the words “pain,” “rash,” “hives” or “allergic.” Or a store location could create a list of words including “COVID,” “coronavirus” and “mask” so they’re alerted every time a review is submitted with one of these words — regardless of star rating. That way, these businesses can act fast to protect their shoppers — and their hard-earned reputations.
Prioritize Reviews that Mention Other Urgent Issues
Some negative reviews mention quality or shipping issues. Though they’re not as critical as those mentioning health and safety concerns, these reviews still need to be addressed quickly to avoid a damaged reputation.
For example, this grandmother purchased a toy truck set for her grandson’s birthday that arrived in bad condition.
And this shopper indicates she received a counterfeit product.
Again, if you’re a Reputation Studio customer, the best way to spot and prioritize these types of negative reviews is to set keyword alerts. For example, to catch quality issues, you could set alerts for words like “broken,” “damaged” or “defective.” Words like “late” and “delayed” will help you prioritize reviews that mention shipping issues. And keywords like “fake” and “counterfeit” could help you identify and address potential counterfeits. You’re alerted regardless of star rating, which allows you to identify reviews like this one, which has a five star rating but upon closer inspection, mentions quality issues at a restaurant.
How to Track Negative Reviews
It’s important to triage your negative reviews so the most urgent issues are addressed first. But how exactly do you put this into practice?
Managing reviews can be a pretty clunky, time consuming process — especially if you sell your products through multiple channels. If that’s the case, you have to log in to a different dashboard for each platform to manage and respond to your negative reviews. And it’s easy to accidentally overlook a particularly concerning negative review.
If you use a reputation management solution like Reputation Studio, though, the process is much easier. All customer reviews, regardless of where they were submitted, are consolidated into one platform. You can use that platform to monitor and segment your reviews and assign them to the appropriate person or team to address. You can also leverage analytics from your reviews to identify ways to improve your products and experiences.
How to Respond to a Negative Review
Responding to negative reviews is a best practice. That’s because responding is a powerful way to turn negative situations around and show the original shopper (and future ones) that you hear and value their feedback.
But how exactly should you respond to a negative review? It really depends on the content of the review. While some negative reviews can be addressed by sharing helpful tips with the review, others, like those that mention health and safety issues, require further investigation.
Always avoid copying and pasting the exact same response to every negative review, though. It’ll make you sound like a robot and your shoppers won’t think you’re genuine.
Again, a reputation management solution like Reputation Studio is key. If you’re a Reputation Studio customer, you can respond to all negative reviews — regardless of where they were written — within one platform. Plus, you can create and share templates with your customer care representatives that they can use as a starting point when responding to reviews.
Don’t Let One Bad Review Ruin Your Reputation
There’s no denying that negative reviews can have an undesirable impact on your business. But one bad review — when properly addressed — isn’t going to ruin your business.
The key is to develop a proactive approach to negative reviews and give priority to the content that has the potential to have the largest impact on your business. A reputation management solution like Reputation Studio can help.