Online reviews have become an integral part of the consumer decision-making process. According to a recent survey conducted by BrightLocal, over 90% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase. Even more striking, the survey found that negative reviews are read by 18% more people than positive reviews. This imbalance can spell trouble for businesses in the modern marketplace where reviews are ubiquitous.
The reason behind this negativity bias is deeply rooted in human psychology. Researchers have found that people tend to give more weight to negative information and experiences, a phenomenon known as “negativity bias.” Negative reviews tend to be more attention-grabbing and memorable. We instinctively focus on the bad because in the past it increased our ancestors’ chances of survival.
This inherent bias means that potential customers are more likely to read and trust negative reviews when evaluating a business. One bad review can overshadow several good ones. And too much negativity can damage a company’s reputation and bottom line. Businesses that don’t know how to properly handle negative feedback risk losing customers and revenue.
People instinctively hone in on the negative when assessing a business through online reviews. This negativity bias can become a major problem if businesses don’t have an effective strategy for responding to and managing adverse feedback.
Why People Are More Likely To Read Negative Reviews
People are more likely to read negative reviews than positive reviews for several reasons. First, negative reviews tend to be more attention-grabbing and emotional than positive ones. Angry or frustrated customers often write reviews using strong, dramatic language that draws the reader in. Second, many consumers actively seek out critical reviews because they find them more useful. Negative reviews highlight potential problems or flaws that positive reviews may gloss over. They provide balanced perspectives needed to make informed decisions.
Additionally, people perceive negative reviews as more authentic and trustworthy. There is an assumption that positive reviews could be biased or incentivized, while negative reviews are seen as coming from a place of honesty. Some consumers specifically sort reviews by low ratings to get the unfiltered truth about a product or company. Finally, negative reviews can be more relevant to consumers’ own experiences. If someone encounters an issue with a business, they may look for similar negative reviews to validate their feelings or determine if they were isolated incidents.
Negative reviews stand out more, provide cautionary information, are perceived as more credible, and resonate more deeply with consumers who have had poor experiences themselves. Being aware of these psychological factors allows businesses to better respond to negative feedback and maintain a positive brand image despite the outsized influence of negative reviews.
The Impact of Negative Reviews on Businesses
Negative reviews can have a profoundly detrimental impact on businesses in various ways. First, they directly damage a company’s reputation with potential customers. When people consistently see negative feedback and low star ratings, it creates a negative perception of that business as being unreliable, unprofessional, or poor quality. This makes customers less likely to trust or choose that company over competitors.
Second, negative reviews deter new business and sales. According to a BrightLocal study, 72% of consumers will not buy from a business that has mostly negative reviews online. When customers read multiple poor experiences with a company, they are much less likely to become a patron. This directly translates to lost revenue and profitability.
Third, an overabundance of negative reviews can actually rank a business lower in search results and reduce its discoverability. Sites like Yelp and Google factor review scores into local search rankings. More negatives drag down a company’s position, keeping new customers from ever finding the business in the first place.
Finally, negative reviews require time and effort to address. From reputation management to improving operational issues, responding to and mitigating bad feedback takes resources away from more productive business activities.
Tips on How to Deal With People Reading Negative Reviews
Here are some tips for businesses on how to deal with people who only read negative reviews:
Educate customers about the importance of reading both positive and negative reviews. Many people are not aware of the fact that negative reviews can be just as valuable as positive reviews. Negative reviews can help potential customers identify potential problems with a business, and they can also help businesses to identify areas where they can improve. Businesses can educate customers about the importance of reading both positive and negative reviews by including information about this in their marketing materials and on their website. They can also encourage customers to leave reviews, both positive and negative, so that other potential customers can benefit from their feedback.
Highlight the positive aspects of your business in your marketing materials. Businesses should make sure to highlight the positive aspects of their business in their marketing materials. This includes things like their excellent customer service, their high-quality products or services, and their positive reputation. By highlighting the positive aspects of their business, businesses can show potential customers that they are a good choice, even if they have a few negative reviews.
Respond to negative reviews promptly and professionally. When a business receives a negative review, it is important to respond to it promptly and professionally. This shows potential customers that the business cares about their feedback and that they are committed to providing a positive customer experience. When responding to a negative review, businesses should apologize for the customer’s experience, explain what happened, and offer to resolve the issue.
Encourage positive customers to leave reviews. Businesses should encourage positive customers to leave reviews. This can be done by asking them to leave reviews on their website or on social media. Businesses can also offer incentives for customers to leave reviews, such as a discount on their next purchase or a chance to win a prize. By encouraging positive customers to leave reviews, businesses can build up a positive online reputation and counterbalance any negative reviews that they may have received.
In addition to these tips, businesses should also focus on providing a positive customer experience. This means being responsive to customer inquiries, resolving customer issues quickly and efficiently, and going above and beyond to meet customer needs. When businesses provide a positive customer experience, they are less likely to receive negative reviews in the first place.
By following these tips, businesses can deal effectively with people who only read negative reviews. By educating customers about the importance of reading both positive and negative reviews, highlighting the positive aspects of their business, responding to negative reviews promptly and professionally, and encouraging positive customers to leave reviews, businesses can build up a positive online reputation and attract new customers.
In conclusion, online reviews have become a ubiquitous part of the modern consumer’s purchasing journey. While reviews can provide helpful insight, people have a natural tendency to focus more heavily on the negative. This negativity bias can have major consequences for businesses in the form of reputational damage, lost sales, and wasted resources.
To mitigate these effects, companies must have a strategy in place to actively manage their online presence and reputation. Responding to feedback quickly, resolving issues, and encouraging happy customers to share their positive experiences are key. It is also vital to educate consumers on the importance of balanced reviews, not just negative ones, for making fully informed decisions.
With an effective plan to generate more positive word of mouth, demonstrate responsiveness, and combat negativity bias, businesses can thrive even in an online landscape where the bad often outpaces the good. The ultimate goal is providing such great service that criticism is minimal and praise is overflowing.