How negative reviews help to build customer trust

19th Oct 2018

Businesses-owners, marketers, salespeople. Whatever your role, the ambition to promote, sell and market your business to the world is through overwhelming positivity.

It’s human nature. We all have an underlying belief that if no-one can see your flaws, your mistakes, the chinks in your armour and your vulnerabilities, then you’ll look shinier and more attractive to the people that buy you. Sound familiar? It’s apparent in the way we act on social media, through to our inability to admit our mistakes, through to the way businesses also act towards their customers.

The same can be seen in the world of reviews. Businesses are fearful of any kind of negativity, scared of how this might be seen by its customer base and ultimately how it will impact upon the bottom line. But, is the ambition to appear perfect and squeaky clean, really what builds trust with your customers?

We recently undertook a consumer poll on the Trustpilot website and the results made for interesting reading. Of over 1200 UK responses, over 57% of consumers said that when looking at reviews of businesses they would trust that company less if there were no negative reviews.

do you trust a company less it it does not have negative reviews

Today’s consumer clearly feels they are not getting the real story about a brand or business the overall reviews of that business paint too rosy a picture. It’s just not realistic, the probability of every single customer having a four or five-star experience with your business just isn’t believable and has the potential of turning your customers away.

Additionally, 59% of respondents also said that they found it more valuable to read negative (1 or 2 star) reviews, rather than the more positive experiences (4 or 5 stars). It’s a further sign that customers want to understand any potential issues before they make the commitment of dealing with your business.


Of course, I’m not suggesting that businesses should go out of their way to make mistakes and to disappoint their customers, just so they can display their negative reviews (far from it!). But, being transparent and showing the good, the bad and the ugly could certainly have a more positive outcome for your business than you think. Businesses shouldn’t be afraid to receive a few negative reviews. This feedback provides further opportunity to listen, engage and improve in an open, collaborative way, something both new and existing customers will appreciate.

In addition to those reading reviews, we also recently undertook a survey across the US and European territories to establish why people write negative reviews. The full report can be found here.

For those who have written a negative or bad review, nearly 3 in 4 said they would be happy with a private message or email and 61% expected a company to comment publically on their review.

What’s also interesting is the positive reaction you receive if customers feel you have dealt with their negative review appropriately. Over half (55%) stated they would definitely buy from that business again, more than 2 in 5 customers would change their review to a positive one and a quarter would actively recommend the company, turning them from detractors to promoters.   

More than ever, consumers want to understand the negative, not just the positive interactions others have had with your business. The more you hide those mistakes, the less believable and trusted your business becomes. Openly sharing, responding and acting to any perceived negativity is what will set your business apart - don’t be scared, just try it.

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