Cheer Up! The Benefits of Negative Reviews

by Sean Ogino |

Cheer Up! The Benefits of Negative Reviews

Negative reviews are expected side effects of the product review platforms that so many online and omni-channel companies have. But the preconditioned minds of business people have been looking at a negative review just like one looks at a death sentence. Of course, negative reviews are disappointing and they set up a fear that this bad publicity may drive off the sale. After all, who will want to buy a product that has failed to generate positive opinions among the buyers? But, if you look at all the aspects including the nature of negative reviews and what make people to write them, you will be able to understand the benefits of negative reviews. We will zoom in into much broader aspects.

The Benefits of Negative Reviews: Authenticity

In countless conversations, we hear the adage that something is “too good to be true.” Anything that has no touch of imperfection or possibility of vulnerability appears, frankly, unread. This also applies to product reviews. There cannot be a product which will get a thumbs up from each and every customer. That doesn’t mean that product cannot be great. What I am trying to amplify is that nobody can make a product which will meet each and every customer’s expectations in all conceivable ways.

There might be cases where the customer has liked everything about the product, but he is a little grumpy about the fact that he had received the delivery little late than the expected time. Or, check out the below review, which shows that the customer’s complaint has nothing to do with the product itself, only the minimum price at checkout.

minimum checkout review

Now, think about what a negative review like this doing to the customer psyche. First, it tells the customer that these are not fabricated reviews. People have genuinely purchased from the retailer and they have honest feedback about their purchases. This is where the checkbox of trust gets ticked.

If all the products are getting overwhelmingly positive reviews with 5 stars, it seems suspicious. It then hardly comes as a surprise that the chances of purchase are high when the average star rating of a product is between 4.2 and 4.5 stars. Once the star rating exceeds 4.5 stars, the probability of purchase drops. It’s in complete accordance with the 2013 study by Harvard Business School, which found that the majority of consumers trust reviews more when they see a mix of good and bad feedback. It also said that if the feedback is entirely positive, 95% believe the reviews are fake or company generated.

The Benefits of Negative Reviews: The Contrast Effect

If a broken chair is placed near the perfectly fine chair, naturally people will look at  the latter in a more favorable light. Similarly, when negative reviews are sprinkled among glowing ones, customers consider the praise more seriously. And no purchase, unless and until its miscellaneous, can happen if a customer is not in a positive frame of mind.

Besides, this concept of making a product look good with more positive reviews is practically implementable as the majority of the reviews are positive. Only 14% of overall product reviews aren’t four or five stars. Thus, anyhow they are in the small minority. When they enter into the system, they get distributed on the platform sparsely…and that’s enough to accentuate the might of positive reviews.

The Benefits of Negative Reviews: Purchase Assistance

As I have mentioned in the beginning, a complete understanding of the nature of negative reviews reveals that bad review doesn’t mean that your business is bad or your product is bad. People may write negative reviews because they felt a disappointment about certain aspect of the product. And disappointment springs from the gap between expectation from the product and what actually that product delivered.

One survey that studied 1.3 million reviews found that the most commonly used negative word in reviews – by a tremendous margin – is “disappointment” or “disappointed”. On the contrary, “bad” was mentioned only about 7500 times. What you can read from this is that rather than the clear bad quality of product, lack of fulfillment of expectations prompted people to write a negative review. Another insight is while buying a product, people were not sure about what to expect from the product. And hence there is that gap between expectation and reality of the product. A negative review can be a quick fix to this recurrent pain point.

Let’s see how it assists in shopping. A lady with a height of 5 feet 8 inches writes that the shoe of size 7, which she has bought from your website, is a tad tight for her. Now, ladies with same height who read those reviews know that they need to order a larger size. The logical process that takes place here is worth to have a look at. The negative review, in this case, is telling their customers that there is no problem with the quality of the shoe. It’s just a slight mismatch on the grounds of size. It is explaining the reason behind that negative review. Naturally, this information will assist them in taking much informed and smarter purchase decision. Remember that it will also cut down the purchase returns- the ache of the modern retail world!

Some online sellers will have users rate products on a variety of sub-categories in order to better show what the particular issues, if any, are.
Some online sellers will have users rate products on a variety of sub-categories in order to better show what the particular issues, if any, are.


The Benefits of Negative Reviews: An Efficient Way to Better Yourself

The room for improvement is the biggest room as there is always a chance to outdo your previous best. To improve, you need to know what is pulling you back…and where you need to focus as a retailer. Negative reviews are a real rich repository of feedback about what’s keeping you from greater success.

If you can find a recurring point in most of the reviews, you can look at it as a common denominator. If all your negative reviews state there is a problem with your checkout system, then chances are this is an area you need to concentrate on. If people are saying that there is a delay in getting your products, then you need to improve your shipping service. In short, it will give you the exact idea of the elements that have been ailing your overall business.

Indeed, there are too many silver linings to the dark and gloomy cloud of negative reviews!

Note: As we know the indispensability of ratings and reviews too well, we always try to discuss it in detail. Here is a blog where we have described how to get more reviews for any product. Through this blog, you can get yourself acquainted with the ways to garner twice the industry average amount of feedback with in-email review forms and offline reviews. And to know how our ratings and reviews platform works, go through this blog.

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