Underutilized & Powerful CX: Negative Customer Reviews
Great customer reviews can boost sales and reflect positively on your brand. Bad reviews can hurt them. But how do these reviews play a role in your overall customer experience (CX)?
Understanding how customers and potential customers interact with your brand and CX can have a tremendous impact on your success. In fact, customer experience has become so important—sometimes even more important than products themselves—that more than 80% of consumers are willing to pay more for a great one, according to research by Capgemini.
Now, more than ever, there’s an emphasis on CX and a demand for new and improved experiences with every interaction or purchase. While this process can be time-consuming, negative CX can create a lot of damage, especially in the form of customer reviews. Whether by word-of-mouth, social media, or on a product page, one negative review can send a ripple effect that can’t be ignored.
The Power of Customer Reviews
Don’t underestimate the power of customer reviews. Good or bad, they help potential customers form educated opinions about a product or experience. They help build trust through authenticity. By collecting reviews across your product pages you make them transparent and easy to find.
Positive reviews are very beneficial, however, negative reviews can sometimes outweigh the positive due to the fact that consumers pay extra special attention to them.
A few reasons why consumers pay close attention to negative reviews:
- Understand the downside(s) of a product or experience they’re researching as seen by their peers
- Learn why consumers with negative experiences had that type of experience
- Weigh reviewer feedback alongside the business’ description of a product or experience
- Balance out large numbers of overly positive reviews to validate the authenticity
But before you worry too much about your negative reviews, keep in mind that bad reviews don’t always mean bad business.
For example, say a consumer is shopping for new luggage that would be suitable for checking onto an airplane. While researching luggage on Amazon, he decides to read some reviews on various hard case luggage options.
Despite the fact that each of these listings has 10k+ reviews and a 4.5-star rating, when he reads the comments, the “most helpful” ones (determined by star rating) are mostly negative. From complaints about the material quality to the wheels to the handles, he immediately second-guesses the purchase.
But then he notices that the majority of negative reviews weren’t very credible. Here’s an example:
When reading reviews, he wants to feel as though he can trust the reviewer. How could this person possibly know that no one else received a damaged suitcase? Why did they try to attack Amazon’s brand? As someone who has several AmazonBasics products, he trusts Amazon as a brand and its products. This consumer cannot relate to the reviewer, therefore, he decides to ignore that review (and many others like it).
In the end, he feels he was right to side with the majority that gave positive reviews and his bag survives the test of airplane travel. Plus, this consumer probably would have been even more skeptical if Amazon managed to attain a perfect 5-star review anyways.
Be Proactive About Negative Customer Reviews
Despite the previous luggage scenario, negative reviews aren’t ideal and shouldn’t be ignored. If we think about reviews as customer feedback, they can be one of the most valuable assets for businesses of all types and sizes. While negative reviews are an extremely visible part of your brand that’s nearly out of your control, you can still use them to your advantage.
Negative reviews can help you:
- Improve search visibility
- Measure and optimize the customer experience
- Inspire consumer trust
3 Simple Strategies
Strategy #1: Leverage customer reviews to focus usability testing
One way you can make your customer reviews work for you is by taking the comments and concerns and testing them. If we go back to the suitcase example, in one review, what if someone mentioned that the suitcase arrived with the TSA locks already locked and without instructions for resetting them.
By employing remote usability testing, Amazon could test the unboxing and lock features of their product. Remote usability testing is essentially a method of research that uses an insight platform to record the screen and voice of test participants as they interact with a product or experience in their natural environment. The benefit of this type of test is that Amazon could theoretically test the unboxing of their product in the home of their users.
Strategy #2: Empathize with and learn from reviewers
Customer reviews offer unique insights for brands into the customer experience, which helps bridge the empathy gap. Essentially, they have the power to provide critical information about what customers think about a brand and aspects of the buying journey.
As customer experiences have become more digital, the interactions have become less human. However, reviews can be foundational to understanding your customers’ wants and needs so you can better empathize with them when you’re making decisions for improving your products or experiences. Regular evaluations of reviews help companies recognize changes in sentiment and use those emotions to inform improvements to the customer experience.
Strategy #3: Refine and tailor brand messaging
Customer reviews can also help companies refine their brand messaging and tailor it to match what matters most to customers. If the reviews show that customers respond well to certain aspects of a brand, product, or experience, those preferences should be used in marketing to new customers. Speaking the customers’ language builds trust and connection.
See the World through Your Customers’ Eyes
Consumers take the time to read reviews. They use them to weigh their options and that’s natural. Customers value what their peers have to say and they also want to share their own experiences.
Customer reviews provide valuable insights that can help refine the overall customer experience to better align with customers’ thoughts and expectations. By seeing the world through your customers’ eyes—both the negative and positive—you can create experiences for them that are more human.
Customer reviews are inevitable, so it’s your job to use them to your advantage. By using them as a powerful tool for improving CX, negative reviews won’t seem so negative.
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