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Why negative reviews don't hurt your brand

Written by Simply Zesty on

Many brands are concerned about the effect that negative reviews will have on not only their reputations, but importantly their sales. It's perfectly understandable and should seem simple enough. If people say bad things about you on your website/Twitter/Facebook page etc.. then others will be put off using your service or buying your products. But the reality is quite different and I want to show why you shouldn't just encourage reviews, but that negative feedback won't necessarily damage your brand.

People trust the truth

Aside from any features and fancy buttons that you can put onto a product, people ultimately buy from the brands that they trust. Trust typically came from your peers but it can now be conveyed by word of mouth online. And an interesting survey from Invoke Solutions into trust online, found that what people valued the most in determining whether a site was trustworthy, was whether or not it allowed bad comments as well as good :

The thing is, people aren't stupid. If they see that you've invited open feedback on your site or social profile, then this in itself conveys an element of confidence in your own brand. You open the feedback because you know you can deal with complaints, or at the very least you genuinely want to know if people have a problem with your brand. Communicating trustworthiness in your brand is one of the most important tasks for any business and this can be achieved simply by opening yourself up to negativity. But as well as determining the trustworthiness of your brand, people won't necessarily be duped by negative complaints. If you're worried that you have a stream of comments that simply say your product is rubbish and there's not much sense behind it, your users aren't necessarily going to trust this over your own brand. We're becoming savvy online and can often spot a genuine complaint from spam, nonsense, or something posted by a competitor.

Being genuine online really can't be emphasised enough. It's such an important part in the purchasing cycle that your brand seems honest. If I was buying a product and I saw a string of complaints that were being addressed by the business itself, it wouldn't put me off. Moreover, it would convince me that if I ever were to have a problem, I can be confident it would be addressed easily online without having to hang on the end of a customer service line. Indeed, in the above survey, 'responsiveness of sponsor or author' ranks number 2 on the trustworthiness factors and this should show why negativity isn't necessarily a bad thing, so long as you address it.

Negative reviews can increase sales

If you're still not convinced that negative reviews don't hurt your business, I wanted to share a case study from Alpaca Direct. They had enlisted the company Power Reviews to integrate and manage user reviews on their site. The result of allowing feedback? Sales on items with user reviews activated saw an increase in sales of 23%, even where items were receiving lower ratings. Again, this was attributed to trust. This should be an encouraging business case for allowing user reviews and showing that negative reviews don't necessarily affect sales in a bad way, in fact they can improve them.As much as this is down to engendering trust in your brand, negative reviews can also set the user expectation before they buy, which can impact you positively.

An example - one person can come along and complain that while the design of their toaster was modern, it made it hard to keep clean. The next person comes along to view the toaster, and actually all they're concerned about is the aesthetics for their bachelor pad and they don't care about cleaning it. One person's negative has turned into the next person's  positive and could result in a sale. There are varying degrees of negative reviews to consider and they won't necessarily put people off but could do the job for you and end up selling your product.

Be honest, you'll still buy from Domino's

One of the most recent cases of negative publicity online is the infamous Domino's Pizza video, in 2009. Can you really think of a worse portrayal of your brand than this:

But Domino's have handled this correctly (admittedly not as quickly as they could have) by taking action at the time, with a response and proceeding to fire the employees in question. Importantly, they also responded with a strong campaign based on a new recipe. Being honest, I couldn't really say that I would be less inclined to buy from Domino's, boosted by the fact that they publicly responded to the campaign, reinforcing how seriously they take breaches of the rules by staff. Nor did it impact their sales either, with a 32% increase in profit compared to 2008.

The lesson to be taken from this is not that you can just let anything be said about your brand and hope that your customers will return, but that you respond when bad things are said. People will always have bad things to say and I really believe that the best thing you can do is invite these comments in. Hopefully having read this post that doesn't sound quite as absurd as it could do :)

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