What we say is not what we do when it comes down to negative reviews

When talking to Clients and prospects we often hear something like this:

“Reviews and ratings are our number 1 priority”. We can’t agree more. However, most of the times this answer is a mystery to us as what is said doesn’t correspond with what we see. And what we see is hidden in plain sight when looking at the data.

242,721 reviews, 51,282 are negative but less than 3% have a response from the brand.

We looked at all reviews on Amazon in the Bluetooth Speaker Category. We analysed 242,721 reviews. Out of those reviews, 51,282 are negative (we consider negative reviews as reviews with a rating below 3.5). This is 21.1%. How many of those reviews got a review response from the brand who manufactured that product? Less than 3%!. Can you believe that? We can’t.  

Jeroen den Bok, CEO Stars and Stories:

“It’s crazy to see that most negative reviews don’t get a response from the brand. A rating below a 3.5 hurts customer trust and has a very negative impact on sales. If a brand would realise the true cost of an unsolved negative review they would be shocked.”

It costs you tons if you don’t respond to reviews


A rating below a 3.5 means virtually no sales. No sales equal no money coming in. So the true cost of a rating below a 3.5 is in a way 100%. This might be too easy of an equation for some of us. There is another way of calculating the cost of no response. Marketing teacher and visionary Seth Godin did the math in one of his blogs. It’s about customer service and is equally right for reviews:

Your company spends $6 on digital ads to get a click, and one in a hundred clicks lead to an inquiry. Which means that every inquiry sitting in the queue cost you $600. Inquiries are a bit like cronuts, in that they go stale quickly. Waiting an extra day to get back to just one person probably costs you more than the entire day’s salary of a customer service salesperson.

Your company spends $2,000 a day on rent for its showroom. And you paid that rent (along with all of those ads) for a month before John walks into the store. The uninterested, undertrained, under-compensated salesperson is finishing up a personal call, John gets bored and leaves. That (non) interaction cost you $20,000.

Jon, the reservationist, is overwhelmed by incoming calls, and he’s snippy when a regular calls for a table this Saturday night. So the patron, rebuffed and feeling disrespected, goes to a different restaurant, loves it, and never returns. Let’s see–10 business dinners a year at $200 including tip and wine–you can do the math. “You can do the math,” while true, is rarely followed up by, “I did the math.” (Source: Seth Godin’s Blog)

3 variables to think of when responding to a review

As review experts, we researched what counts when you respond to a negative review. It turns out, you can identify 3 variables that have an impact:

  1. Source of the response;
  2. Voice of responder;
  3. Speed of response.

If you get the mix of these 3 variables right, it can make the effect of a negative review less gloomy. Giving a response to an online review by the right person, i.e. a person representing the brand or a real expert in the field has a positive effect on the perspective of the consumer towards the trustworthiness of the brand and how the business is caring about their customers. The more human this response is, the better. And you better do it as quickly as possible.

Would you like to know more?

If you have a challenge with review response and want to know about the subject, don’t hesitate to contact one of our teams.