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hate-yelpThe short answer is…YES! In a case study done by Alpaca Direct, who enlisted the help of a company called Power Reviews to integrate reviews throughout their website, the results were surprising. Sales on items with user reviews saw an average increase in sales of 23%, even on items that received low customer ratings! The study clearly demonstrates that even products with low ratings convert better than products with no ratings at all.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. We’ve all seen and read scathing customer reviews that would make your mother blush. You’d have to be nuts to put a review like that on your website, right? But the numbers don’t lie: Even products with low customer ratings convert better than products with no ratings at all.

I am not saying you should run out and allow unfiltered reviews to overtake your website. That would be a fool’s errand. Negative reviews must be used cautiously. But I would suggest to you, that you have nothing to fear from an angry customer who gripes publicly about a poor customer service experience as long as you take the time to respond thoughtfully and explain in detail to the customer how you are going to correct the issue.

Studies have clearly shown that negative reviews help to build trust in the consumers who visit your website. Trust factors matter when it comes to web visitors. Your public response demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction. In a published study conducted by Invoke Solutions, one of the most important features that inspire brand trust is that the conversation happening around your brand be open to both positive and negative comments.

If that’s not enough to ease the mind, it is also worth noting that most consumers are compelled to leave reviews by a sense of goodwill. In fact, according to market research from Keller Fay Group 87% of consumers tend to write reviews when they have something positive to say.

But many customers need to be prompted to say a good word or two. A simple email with a link to your review site profile could make a difference, as many well-intentioned customers do not even know where to go to leave a positive review about the great product or service they have received.

I often confer with clients to help create well written emails and printed postcards that can handed out on location and to solicit customers to write reviews. Its important to focus on the review sites where you might have a ‘star’ deficit  or on the Google+ Local ( where your starred ratings impact your local search rankings.

Here are some important points to consider:

Customers Want to Hear the Good and the Bad: Ultimately, negative reviews cannot hurt you as long as there are also positive reviews associated with them. When customers see an unfiltered mix of reviews they’re much more apt to trust the review process. In many instances, customers are only looking for affirmation or reassurance that they’ve made the right choice. As long as the reviews are not exceedingly negative and you have appropriately and publicly addressed any customer complaints, negative reviews can actually help customers pass through purchase paralysis!

Negative Reviews Establish Trust and Authenticity: Do you believe all of your products and services deserve a five star rating? You, like all consumers, know we don’t live in a five star universe. Customers know that if there aren’t dissenting opinions about a product, then the opinions aren’t real. If all they see are five-star reviews, they’re reading testimonials, not authentic, credible customer reviews to help make a purchase decision.

Negative Reviews Can Help You Refine and Improve Your Business: Negative reviews not only help customers make purchase decisions, they can help you make decisions about your internal processes, personnel and products. Reviews are a perfect sounding board for you to listen to unadulterated customer feedback regarding sales, finance, product flaws, and more. This can be a critical aid when you need to make important decisions effecting things like inventory and staffing.

87% of Consumers Tend to Write Reviews When They Have Something Positive to Say: A study by Keller Fay Group found nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of brand-related talk features products in a positive light, while less than 1 in 10 conversations feature products negatively. What’s more, a large percentage of customer’s are willing to change or delete a negative review based on the attentiveness and appropriateness of the response they receive.

Thomas DiSanto

Thomas DiSanto is the CEO of Drive Customers, a Rhode Island based Digital Marketing Agency. He has more than 20+ years experience in creating and managing search engine marketing and enterprise level SEO programs. Call (855) 540-3300 today to learn why so many companies trust him.