Understanding emotional science and negative customer feedback

by SmileBack
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2 min read

There’s an emotional aspect to customer feedback.

With CSAT scores fast becoming a prime driver of business success, your customer’s feelings matter to your bottom line. Here, we discuss the emotional science behind negative customer feedback, and show you how to make customer sentiment work for your business.

Negative emotions are unavoidable, and as psychologist Jonathan M. Adler describes in Scientific American, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“One of the primary reasons we have emotions in the first place is to help us evaluate
our experiences.”

Jonathan M. Adler, Ph.D.

We need our emotions to help us make decisions. Without sadness, frustration, and disappointment, we wouldn’t know when something has gone wrong or how to fix it. Similarly, our excitement and sense of pride tell us what we are doing right, and reminds us to keep doing more of it.

This not only affects our personal lives and relationships, but our professional ones as well. And nowhere is this effect more pronounced than when it comes to online reputations.

The changing face of customer feedback

People love to talk about their emotional experiences online, and this has changed the way companies market themselves and respond to customer feedback. In fact, recent studies show that:

•  84% of consumers trust online reviews more than personal recommendations, and

•  49% need at least a 4-star review to engage.

It’s no surprise, then, that CSAT scores, the standard measure of customer satisfaction, are so important. But what compels consumers to tell the world how they feel about a product or service in the first place?

Customer feedback and emotional appeal

Trustpilot, a website dedicated to online reviews, conducted a study to find out why people feel the need to speak publicly about their purchasing experiences. The one primary differentiator that beat out personal expression, ego, and a sense of community, was emotional appeal.

What is emotional appeal and why does it matter?

Whether good or bad, consumers are much more likely to leave a review when their experience with a business strikes an emotional chord. If the consumer has a negative experience, particularly if they feel mistreated or dismissed, they are very likely to comment on it. Similarly, an exceptionally good experience will lead them to speak up.

But what, if anything, do consumers hope to gain from leaving feedback?

Customer feedback and expectations

Contrary to popular belief, good customer feedback is more common than negative customer feedback. In fact, in 2017, 63% of consumers wrote positive reviews for local businesses, while 32% left negative ones. This is great news for new businesses attempting to build an online presence, but it isn’t the whole story.

While fewer people left negative reviews, a whopping 23% did so out of vengeance. As far as emotions go, that is a pretty strong one. So, what exactly do these customers expect to gain from venting their frustrations online?

70% of consumers who leave negative reviews expect a response, but only 38% of them receive one. Many companies are missing a huge opportunity to reduce negative customer feedback, and increase their star ratings and customer satisfaction scores, simply because they don’t bother to respond to bad reviews.

While there are many effective ways to deal with negative customer comments, our experience tells us that timing is everything. Pay attention to what your customers are saying and respond to negative (and neutral) feedback as quickly as possible.

The bottom line

•  CSAT scores are a relevant predictor of future success

•  Consumers are more likely to leave online reviews when their experience strikes an emotional chord, good or bad

•  When customers leave negative reviews, they expect a response

See what customer feedback can do for your business today 👇

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