Why Your Shopify Store Needs Negative Reviews

"We don’t live in a five star world"

-Matt McGee

Running an e-commerce business is hard. When you pour your heart and soul into your Shopify store, negative customer feedback can feel particularly painful.

Knowing that customer reviews play an integral role in purchasing decisions and conversions, Shopify store owners strive for the highest ratings that they possibly can get. But there is often gold in negative reviews that may benefit your business tremendously.

Negative reviews drive conversions

While having a few less-than-perfect reviews decreases a product’s average star rating, it has been shown to actually grow conversions. Negative reviews in particular dramatically influence buying behaviors.

In fact, the 5-star rating is not the most trusted by consumers. It has been shown by multiple studies that consumers are more likely to purchase a product when it’s rating is somewhere between 4.2 to 4.5 stars.  There are a few reasons why this happens.

Negative reviews signal transparency

Nothing is perfect. Your customers know that some negative opinions about a product, service or online store will inevitably arise and if a visitor sees nothing but 5-star reviews, they get suspicious.

Some shoppers might go so far as to ignore brands or products with only five-star reviews and look for a more transparent alternative.

While it might be tempting to strive for the perfect 5-star rating, providing a balanced mix of good and bad reviews on your product pages builds trust.  It shows your customers that you have nothing to hide, and signals that the reviews displayed on your website are not fake, edited or filtered.

Negative reviews help customers estimate the risks

We are all scared of the unknown. Consumers seek the experiences of others with a product in order to mitigate their own risk. In a way, shoppers treat negative reviews as windows into what could potentially go wrong with the purchase.

Understanding what is the worst-case scenario they can plausibly expect, and how the business will handle negative experiences provides shoppers with security and peace of mind to make the purchase.

Customers seek out negative reviews

82% of consumers actively seek out negative reviews. Many shoppers check the overall score and then go immediately to the negative reviews and will leave your store if they don’t find any.

Negative reviews stand out

There are many more positive reviews online than there are negative ones,  which creates a scarcity of negative reviews. This makes those reviews stand out, and as a result, negative reviews are treated by customers as more valuable in addressing their concerns than the positive ones. This is something you can take advantage of by addressing these concerns by publicly replying to negative reviews.

How to handle negative reviews: checklist for Shopify entrepreneurs

While it’s important to include a mix of star ratings, too many negative reviews can critically damage your sales. So what to do when you have an unhappy customer who publicly complains about your brand?

Don’t fret, here are 8 proven steps for dealing with negative reviews for growing conversions in your Shopify store.

Step 1: Don’t panic

Don’t be too hard on yourself for getting a negative review every once in a while. You can’t please everybody, and not everyone is going to love every aspect of their experience with your business. Sometimes your product is just not a good fit for a specific customer. And that’s ok!

Treat each negative review as an opportunity for growth and understanding your customers better.

And most importantly: do not take negativity personally. Negative reviews hurt, no doubt about it. But it’s important to realize one simple truth: it happens to everyone. No matter how well you handle your e-commerce business, it’s inevitable that someone sometime will be unhappy with your store, your product or your customer service.

Step 2: Look for common themes

While customer feedback is beneficial, taking each and every review too seriously can actually harm your store. Start by identifying common themes or repeated complaints. Once you’ve identified the patterns, figure out what product or aspect of your service is causing an issue with your customers and do something about it!

Step 3: Look for the root cause

If negative reviews are a norm rather than an exception, more drastic measures might be needed.  If there is an actual issue with your product or service, acknowledge the problem and then seriously consider going the extra mile in making things right. If your product is the problem, see if you can switch suppliers. If delivery times are too long, see if you can improve this or communicate to customers very clearly when they can expect the delivery before the purchase. Figure out what pisses off your customers and fix it ASAP.

Step 4: Pick your battles

Only address legitimate concerns. If you are dealing with a truly difficult customer who would rather tarnish your name online instead of looking for a solution, know when to move on. Entering a protracted online argument with an online troll will not benefit you in any way.

Step 5: Respond quickly

When the experience is negative, you have to respond quickly. When customers go to the trouble of writing a review they expect an answer, and they expect it to be fast – over 40 percent want an answer within an hour.

A key here is to monitor your reviews and to set up notifications that alert you to negative reviews so that you can address this fast.

Step 6: Decide on Public vs Private response

You really have two options — respond publicly within the reviews widget, or take a more personal approach by responding privately. Both options have their pros and cons.

Public responses give you the chance to demonstrate your customer service skills to a wide audience. The idea here is not just to rectify a bad situation, but rather to build your online reputation as a brand that responds to your customer’s concerns.

Of course, if you’re dealing with a troll, a public response can only further aggravate the situation, prompting more ranting and raving. If it becomes clear they actually don’t want to be helped, it may be best to let them have the last word and walk away.

Private responses via email don’t get the attention of public responses, but they’re more personal and give you a chance to connect with the customer in a way public responses don’t.

Step 7: Request your customer to update the review

And if you do happen to reach a resolution,  don’t forget to ask your customer to update their review to reflect the new status of the situation. That way, your store visitors will see that even though there was an issue, it was promptly taken care of and the customer is now satisfied.

Step 8: Publish negative reviews

It is always a great feeling to go through product pages filled with nothing but 5-star reviews for your store,  but negative reviews should be considered an opportunity for the business to do better and to demonstrate superior customer service if things DO go bad (and it is inevitable that they eventually will).

Did you know that 30% of consumers assume online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews?

Publishing negative reviews and responding publicly is done not only for the sake customer who left the review, but perhaps more importantly, for everyone else reading the reviews thereafter.

Here are the do’s and don’t of handling negative reviews for maximum impact:
  1. Don’t panic. Negative reviews are inevitable for any business that has actual customers.
  2. Do figure out what pisses off your customers and fix it by discovering common themes in negative reviews
  3. If negative reviews are the norm rather than the exception, be prepared to take drastic measures to improve your business.
  4. Only address legitimate concerns. Ignore the trolls.
  5. Respond quickly, don’t let your customers stew in dissatisfaction.
  6. Reply publicly or privately. But do reply.
  7. If you turn your customers’ experience around, don’t forget to ask them to update the review.
  8. Do not avoid publishing negative reviews on your store. It’s all about the balance.

So to recap — be transparent, honest and authentic with your customers,  respond to negative reviews quickly but carefully, and show the world how much you care about your customers.

There is nothing wrong at all with wanting your store to be perfect. But to maximize the effectiveness of reviews you should realize that reviews are not about a perfect rating, but rather about striving to be better.  Trying to appear perfect by hiding all negative reviews is not the optimal strategy if your goal is to maximize conversions. In the end, it’s how you handle negative reviews that makes all the difference.

If you need a little help with generating customer feedback, automate the process with Loox.