New data from Trustpilot finds that negative online reviews for U.S. businesses have jumped by 3% since April, with restaurants and bars experiencing the biggest upticks in negative reviews, alongside construction, education and hobbies and crafts.
Trustpilot’s quarterly Online Review Index examines consumer sentiment across several industries and found a 4% decline in positive reviews since April, equating to nearly 40,000 fewer positive reviews. Despite this trend, and the 3% increase in negative reviews, the number of positive reviews across industries continue to outweigh negative reviews.
The company cites a drop in service levels, inflation and supply chain issues as drivers of this shift. Most of the negative reviews were ignited by order inaccuracies, the report notes.
The restaurant industry continues to navigate a bumpy labor market and remains about 400,000 employees short of pre-pandemic numbers. This shortage has pressured operations as consumers have more access points, such as curbside and delivery. Simultaneously, decades-high inflation has forced operators to increase menu prices by over 8% on average, and restaurants have experienced supply chain shortages on everything from lettuce to chicken to Sriracha.
That said, online reviews provide critical feedback and negative reviews could have far-reaching consequences. Research from Northwestern University finds that 94% of consumers say they have avoided a business because of a negative online review, for instance. Further, 22% of consumers say they will not dine at a restaurant after reading just one negative review and, on average, a single negative review could cost a business up to 30 customers.
“Receiving fewer positive reviews can be worrying, but businesses should treat it as an opportunity to understand how their customers are feeling about them. Feedback from customers is an essential part of the process of getting to know where improvements can be made, which will ultimately fuel growth. Businesses are, of course, facing tough economic headwinds, but they need to ensure that levels of customer service are maintained in order to earn and maintain the trust of consumers,” Mieke De Schepper, Trustpilot chief commercial officer, said in a statement.
As consumers’ dollars become even more stretched, De Schepper said online reviews are becoming more influential, both to help ensure diners are going to get a good experience and that they’re going to get plenty of value out of that experience.
“Businesses should heed that those who feel they’re getting a raw deal will not hesitate in voicing their concerns,” De Schepper added.
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