Negative feedback? Why that can be good news

Brands that value and act on customer feedback are gaining a significant advantage over their competitors.

That’s a conclusion that may be drawn from research that finds many are of the opinion that feel firms are less likely to acknowledge and apologise online for negative experiences, compared to a year ago.

At least, that’s according to new data from Feefo, the insights and reviews platform, which surveyed 2,000 consumers and found that the influence of online reviews continues to grow, with 97 per cent of all adults saying they now read them before buying, and almost a third saying they had actively shared negative feedback online after using a service or making a purchase.

CEO: Tony Wheble

As customer interactions have shifted online across the pandemic, this appears to have put pressure on businesses to respond effectively: on average, consumers expect a response within two days and 43 per cent of us feel companies have got worse at dealing with negative feedback over the past 12 months.

As businesses grapple with soaring levels of online interactions, it may be tempting for some to ignore or hide negative feedback, but the research reveals that these reviews represent a huge opportunity for companies.

Psychologist: Wendy Dignan

When people encounter a product or service with few or no negative online reviews, 32 per cent delay their purchase, and a further 22 per cent say they’re suspicious about whether they can trust any of the reviews.

In fact, more than a quarter say they actively seek negative reviews first and 69 per cent of say they continue their purchase if the review has been acknowledged and responded to effectively.

The power of an effective response is underscored by the fact that nearly half of those happy with how a brand had responded to their negative review say they went on to use the business again; 40 per cent recommended the brand on social media; and a quarter raved about it to friends and family.

In contrast, 58 per cent of those unhappy with a response to their review refused to buy from the firm again, or criticised the brand publicly on social media or even, in some cases, via traditional media.

“The pandemic has seen millions of businesses shift to a digital-first model of customer interaction, said Feefo CEO Tony Wheble. “This has been transformative for many, but it’s clear some have struggled to cope with the volume of feedback they’re getting.

“Customers spend their time leaving valuable feedback; having a clear strategy for managing reviews and responding to criticism is critical and can help make your business become even stronger so you can stand out from your competitors. ‘Don’t ignore, engage’, would be the mantra I would follow.”

Psychologist Wendy Dignan felt that “fake, overly-positive or suspiciously gushing reviews”  are getting a lot of attention, adding: “It’s fascinating that people are now actively seeking out negative reviews for reassurance. People know that firms can’t get it right every time: what they’re looking for is evidence that any issues are dealt with effectively.”

The value of negative reviews