The Psychology Behind Negative Reviews and How to RespondPosted on Jun 27, 2018 by Mario at telio.co
Why are people more likely to leave a negative review when they have a bad experience than a positive review when they have a good experience?
Reflecting on our positive and negative experiences can reveal a lot about why this is the case.
To illustrate, just for a moment… allow yourself to escape into your perfect ideal paradise. It’s sunny with clear skies and you are enjoying your favorite beverage in one of your favorite spots. The most delicious meals, your dearest friends (or time to yourself) and the feeling that all is well in the world.
Are you going to stop the fun to tell people about it, or are you going to just keep enjoying yourself?
When you are having a good time you just know. It takes no extra thinking or need for change. It actually requires more thought to stop and assess than to just keep going in the midst of these positive experiences.
However, when you are having a bad time, your thoughts naturally trend in a negative direction.
One common mechanism to deal with a negative experience is to commiserate with other people.
Let’s discuss why people leave negative reviews and what you can do about it.
I promise, I’ll get you back to your paradise, but first, we have to weather the storm of negative reviews. Hang tight!
Why do people leave negative reviews?
Could it be…
- They don’t want people to make the same mistake they made?
- They actually want to help the business improve and correct?
- A reaction to not getting what they were expecting?
They want to warn others
Sometimes people genuinely think that the company or organization is a bad place to do business. They likely want others to empathize about their negative experience. Nonetheless, they may still want to provide feedback so potential new customers or patients know what they are getting themselves into. Rather, shield them of a similar bad experience.
These reviews can often be very helpful to look at because they’re not coming from angry, mean spirited reviewers, but people who actually care about improving the experience for others.
Unfortunately, there are times when miscommunication and error occurs that were unexpected. As a business owner or associate who realizes these mishaps, it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible to avoid negatively affecting your reputation. More importantly, to correct the error and increase trust and loyalty with your customers or patients.
They want to help your business
It may come as a surprise, but sometimes people provide negative feedback because they sincerely want to help improve your business.
Quality service and global improvement are areas of interest to some people. They want to make things better for everyone and improve how things run. When they share their experience, they are offering advice with candor. After all, one of the important steps to progress is quality, constructive feedback.
Even if their intentions aren’t so noble, they could genuinely want you to know what they didn’t like. This gives you an opportunity to respond and make matters better for them, while affecting trust for all who will see the review response.
As a reaction to unmet expectations
For many, negative reviews seem to be an impulsive reaction to their poor experience. A customer had a bad experience and needs to express their frustration and be heard.
Now let’s stop for a second and try to relate with these individuals with respect to expectation.
The injustice of not getting what you were expecting can be very unsettling.
We do it to ourselves all the time…
We set expectations and then if circumstances don’t meet them we become frustrated and unhappy. This frequently produces negative energy for which people often seek an outlet. For those who are unsatisfied with the products or services they received, they will need an outlet to release their dissatisfaction. Sometimes people grumpily mutter about it for the rest of the day. Many times, however, frustrated users flock to the internet to air their grievances.
The bottom line is that we, as business owners and professionals, need to respect the psychological experiences our customers/patients go through when having a negative interaction with our business. Understanding their point of view can help you better run your business, even if their claims may be inaccurate and often distasteful.
You can’t control what they say, but you can control how you respond and proceed.
Inner thoughts as a business owner
- They want to sabotage my business…
- They are competitors out for my customers/patients…
- They created their own unrealistic expectations…
- They are just miserable and need to displace…
- They didn’t listen to my recommendations…
- We delivered exactly what we said we would…
- This is going to ruin my business…
Are these statements reactionary? Impulsive? Legitimate concerns?
Regardless of any validity to the above statements, this line of thinking can lead your business down a bad road. It’s understandable to be upset and concerned for your company when you receive negative feedback, especially when that feedback is public and online.
You place so much passion, energy, time, and focus on your business while someone plays tug of war with your mission and spits on your positive reputation. You may feel guilty of bad service and want to make things right. There could have been miscommunication that creates more inner frustration. It’s possible that you were downright misrepresented with untruthful feedback.
Regardless of your situation, it is so vital to stay calm and respond, instead of outwardly reacting. Many business owners fail to see how this negative feedback is a potential enormous opportunity to create more loyal customers or patients! [Enter, a glimpse of paradise] Even by the person who left the negative review!
What to Do about a Bad Review?
How can you turn negative reviewing customers/patients into your most loyal customers/patients?
Responding to feedback in a prompt, polite, and constructive manner are central elements to turning things around in your favor. Many times, businesses will avoid responding to negative reviews, try to delete them (which is almost impossible to do), or give no thought to trying to resolve the matter thinking there’s nothing they can do about it.
Notice how this business owner responded to the negative review in a polite and constructive way. The only thing he failed to do was respond in a prompt manner. Try to respond to the reviewer as soon as you see their feedback. Telio review monitoring and reputation management alerts you whenever you get reviews on popular sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp.
Even though there may be frustrating cases where your business is misrepresented by a dishonest customer/patient or a fake review, you can still control how to respond to the others.
Accordingly to Vendasta, 86% of people will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews. However, you can diminish their effect by responding in a quick and helpful manner.
How to respond to negative reviews
- First, apologize for their negative experience
- Second, acknowledge their issue so they feel heard
- Express any miscommunications, wrongdoings etc.
- Offer viable solutions to win back their trust
If you can correct any errors made, address them and how you will do so.
If it is something you cannot change, apologize and let them know how seriously you take their feedback. Additionally, speak with your customer or patient and come up with a solution that will bring them to satisfaction. This could be a discount on future purchases or money back for their poor experience. It could also be as simple as a sincere line of communication.
It’s important to keep these extended conversations private, after responding to the original review publicly. You want to respect their privacy, while upholding the integrity of your brand.
Ultimately, taking the initiative to respond, fix, and remedy the negative experience of a customer or patient can completely alter their thinking about your business and overall brand.
You will not satisfy everyone and it is important to understand this so you don’t waste time trying to please people that you simply cannot serve.
However, when possible, take the initiative to respond and offer solutions even if you feel you upheld your side of the bargain all along. Again, it’s about overemphasizing not what you think about you, but what your customers or patients think about you! Sometimes a tough pill to swallow, but one that will heal some wounds.
Business opportunities when responding to a negative review in a civil manner
When you respond to negative feedback in a constructive manner, you open the door for sustained business and potential growth. All the while, increasing brand trust and commitment to your customers or patients.
Negative Review + Responding Constructively + Mutually Agreed Solutions = Preserve Positive Customer/Patient Relationship + Get Referred By Them = Stronger Lifetime Value
You won’t win every customer or patient and make everyone happy. However, if you take that extra effort to address negative feedback constructively, you open a paradise of opportunities to further grow your business and establish your brand in a positive light.
Here are some quick pointers on how to prevent negative reviews
Manage expectations, undersell and overdeliver, value every customer or patient, and don’t let success cause you to settle.
It is very easy to get caught in the day to day aspects of your business that you can lose sight of factors you can control that directly affect your customers or patients. Taking clear and concrete steps to increase the trust, loyalty, and positive relationship you have with your customers or patients can make a world of difference.
How you handle both positive and negative feedback can be the difference between an average business and one that truly thrives and impacts others.
You can’t always change what people think and say, but you can always control your intention and how you respond.
Until next time, continue to do what you do best!
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