What If I Get Negative Product Reviews?

Thursday, April 18th, 2013
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Afraid to Solicit Product Reviews? Don’t be!

If you sell products that don’t suck, allowing customers to review your products on your site is good for business. It’s good for driving traffic to your site, it’s good for site usability, it’s good for your SEO, and it’s good for your conversion rates and order averages. Period. Think that’s wrong? Check out Amazon – the reason they focus so heavily on product Young Woman Biting Her Finger Nailreviews is that they work.

While most eCommerce businesses have comfortably embraced consumer online reviews as a strong revenue-driving feature, we still hear occasional expressions of concern and fear of this fantastic functionality – what if I don’t get any reviews and my products look unpopular? What if I get negative reviews?

Here’s how to get past those fears in a hurry:

What if I don’t get many reviews and my products look unpopular?

When you first start offering your customers the opportunity to submit reviews – don’t forget to tell them about it! Simply turning on the review function in your store and passively waiting for shoppers to notice probably won’t get you the jump start you are hoping for to look popular and add real value.  This is a fantastic reason to reach out to your customer base without making a sales pitch, or you can add an offer if you wish.

Many online retailers successfully announce their review capabilities and simply request that customers check it out and participate. With the wide acceptance of reviews as a part of social participation, you will be surprised how many folks will participate without an incentive, if you have an engaged customer list. Other retailers create banks of reviews by offering an incentive for writing a legitimate review (positive or negative) – like 10% off their next purchase.

If your eCommerce platform provides the capability of automated review reminders or requests that get sent some time after a purchase has shipped – by all means use it! Folks are most likely willing to write reviews shortly after they first receive or use the products they purchase. You may also consider leveraging  off of folks who write thoughtful, detailed reviews by sending them free product down the road with the only requirement being that they use or consume it and write a thoughtful, detailed review. Amazon does that – maybe you should, too.

What if I get negative reviews?

There are a lot of answers to this question – and here are a few:

  • If you have an ugly baby, you need to know it. How the heck else are you going to improve your product or services, and learn how to present the product or services in a manner that doesn’t elicit objections?
  • Would you rather they tell the world on Yelp or Facebook that they are dissatisfied, or would you rather they tell you through your site (which typically – and certainly in the case of Nexternal – gives you the option whether you want to post the review or not, as well as gives you the opportunity to first contact the customer to make things right.)
  • Posting negative product reviews is often not a bad thing. In fact, a few negative reviews sprinkled among positive reviews give you credibility and keep things real – a far more effective sales tactic than inflated puffery.
  • Negative reviews that are replete with poor spelling and grammar likely will not negatively affect your brand – if the reviewer has no credibility, the review will have no credibility. So if they are bad and full of errors – some say go ahead and post them “as is” without cleaning them up first (like you might on a good review to add credibility to it) – it will make your reviews look unedited (which adds credibility), and it won’t have much, if any, of a negative effect.

We polled some Nexternal clients to see what they do with negative reviews – here’s what they said:

(a)  “If the retailer has the capability to write a public response, then I’d leave the review and post a response.” For example, if someone posts a review that says the current vintage of your wine isn’t as good as the last vintage, you might say something like: “the wonderful thing about vintages is they vary, the wonderful thing about wine is people’s tastes differ, etc ” This client also said: “If I didn’t have a chance to respond, then honestly, I probably wouldn’t post it.”

(b)  “I’d probably not post it unless there were enough positive ones such that this one gets lost in the glow of the good reviews.”

(c)   “I would call the customer and ask what he didn’t like about it.  I would send a replacement if it was simply damaged or “off” in some way, or perhaps a different product that would be more suited to him.”

(d)  “I would call the customer and ask them what they would like me to do if we couldn’t first rectify the problem.”

(e)  “Depending on the issue. If I thought it was a bad unit, I would offer to send them another one. What I’d be careful doing is putting too much in an email. I’d probably call them and discuss.”

If you are a Nexternal client – you are in control over what gets corrected and/or posted, you get the opportunity to respond on or offline, and you can control automated reminders and incentives, among other settings available to you regarding reviews. Please call your account executive with any questions or for assistance with set up.

Pamela is a Senior Account Manager at Nexternal and works in the Napa Valley office. She is passionate about helping her clients succeed. With 20 years' experience in the wine industry spearheading business development and marketing for various wineries including her own, plus previous years practicing general business law, Pamela is well qualified to provide the service and guidance to her clients that sets Nexternal apart from other eCommerce providers.