The success of a brand is determined by how well it is perceived by its target audience. Companies will work tirelessly to make sure that the reputation of their brand is positive. A very beneficial resource for them is positive reviews from people who have used their product or service. It provides them with credibility, strengthens the brand, and it can help them reach a new audience. A negative review can have the complete opposite effect which is why companies work hard to avoid them. I have seen many situations where customers have been so satisfied that they leave a positive review, and so disappointed that they leave a negative one. This brings me to my question “Are customers more likely to leave a review after a positive experience or a negative one?” I wanted to know the experiences that other marketers have had in this situation, so I went ahead and asked five professionals this question so that they could share their thoughts:
Henry Louis Gomez (VP of Strategy)
“My opinion based on what I’ve read and experienced personally is that most customers are more motivated to leave a negative review after a bad experience than a positive one after a good experience. Of course, most customers don’t leave reviews at all. I believe that most reviews are made by a small percentage of customers who get satisfaction from sharing their opinions. They fancy themselves as tastemakers. You see people on Yelp, for example, who have made thousands of reviews. This is atypical.”
Anthony Miyazaki (Brand strategist and Marketing educator)
“Consumers have been trained by necessity to complain when something goes wrong, but perhaps not taught sufficiently by society and general good manners to praise when something goes right. Digital reviews have further escalated complaint behavior due to (1) their ease of action, (2) their possible anonymity, and (3) the potential for complaints to get (sometimes viral) attention from others. The latter has contributed to behavior by some consumers to complain publicly about the hopes of embarrassing the organization or brand into providing the complainer with some type of (over-) compensation. Eventually, the mass of public complaints may very well begin to be discounted by the public due to their ubiquitous nature and their insincerity. Until then, they’re an annoyance at best and a repetitional scourge at worst for brands.”
Robert Vergara (Art Director + Marketing Professional)
“Based on my experience and research, customers or users who had a negative experience are 2-to-3 times more likely to post a harsh review, compared to those who had a positive experience and post a nice review. This tells us that the initial dissatisfaction of an experience is so strong, the negative emotions compel users to warn others about the experience. Because of this, it is up to organizations to encourage positive reviews by 1. Providing excellent customer service. 2. Giving many options to provide a review through various channels and platforms. 3. Asking them directly for a review and giving them time to do it. 4. Giving incentives for leaving a review. 5. Being thankful to customers who take the time to write a review. These are just a few ways to avoid the emotional response of a negative review. They can be addressed by taking these measures to make a positive review more likely.”
Dana Podgurski (Marketing Leader, Writer)
“It depends on if you have an online reputation strategy. Without one, you may receive more negative reviews than you’d like. However, suppose you have a process in place that encourages employees to ask for a review after positive interactions with customers. In that case, you have the power to balance or even offset the negative reviews with positive ones. But this also means that the employee needs to deliver an incredible experience to earn the right to ask.”
Gaby Vazquez (Social Media Marketer at Accident Medical Group)
“Customers are more inclined to leave a positive review rather than a negative review. This is because they want to help others make a better decision when it comes to using a service or buying a product. They also want to show their appreciation to the company they were a customer for.”
Many of these marketers believe that customers are more likely to leave a negative review, rather than a positive one. Seeing this as a customer rather than a marketer, I can agree with this consensus. As a customer who has occasionally had a bad experience, I can say that I have left more negative reviews in my life than positive ones. I have only ever left a handful of reviews in my life but most of the ones I have written have been after a very bad experience. This situation has been the same for numerous of my coworkers, as well as family and friends.
Reviews are based on emotions. When customers leave their negative reviews, they do it because they felt they went through such a bad experience that they want others to know how it felt. According to Henry “…most reviews are made by a small percentage of customers who get satisfaction from sharing their opinions.” This is because customers are typically not only purchasing a product or service, but they are also purchasing an experience. They are looking to feel good. If they feel that they have been provided with the opposite, it becomes difficult for them to not spread a negative word of mouth.
Based on the quotes provided to me by Robert and Dana, I realized that there is a way to get satisfied customers to leave more reviews than unsatisfied ones. The key to it is to have a strategy to compel those happy customers to share their experiences. In other words, provide a call to action. Happy customers are happy for a reason. They feel grateful and are benefitting well from the brand at hand. If the said brand were to ask them to leave a review or incentivize them to do so, it will have an influence on how the brand is perceived and it could eventually outweigh the negative ones. Incentives could be things like coupons, gift cards, or even a free product out. There is nothing wrong with asking your loyal customers to share their thoughts or even rewarding them for their help. Positive word of mouth is instrumental for a company’s brand, therefore, there should be a strategy to get the voices of those happy people to be shared.
A negative review can hurt a brand but how it is dealt with can make it better. Acknowledging the customer’s concerns can go a long way. Contacting them afterward to hear them out can help them feel heard and could provide you with information that might be helpful to avoid a negative situation like that again. It also never hurts to ask for a second chance. Providing a positive experience during and after the sale will make a difference. Negative reviews may be seen more often, but it doesn’t mean that nothing can be done to change that. Have a strategy to get your satisfied customers to share their opinions.