Consumers seek resolution before posting negative reviews online

In an MIT Sloan Management Review article titled “When Unhappy Customers Strike Back on the Internet,” Thomas Tripp and Yany Gregoire assert that consumers posting negative online reviews typically seek resolution offline first.

“Most online complainers have been victims not only of a product or service failure, but also of a series of failed resolution attempts….Our research shows that online public complaining is almost always preceded by [these] double deviations. Specifically, after analyzing 431 online complaints posted to and, we found that approximately 96% of the online complaints followed a double deviation. Only 4% of the online complaints posted publicly followed a simple service failure.”

This should be encouraging for anyone worried about the impact of negative reviews on their business. We often say conversations and reviews take place with or without your participation – so it’s better to be involved.

The positive takeaway from this study is that you probably have a chance to resolve an issue before it gets shared with the world in the form of a review. Negative reviews are usually the result of a service failure and staff failing to resolve the issue when it’s brought to their attention.

Listen to your customers, quickly make changes to fix what is broken, and you’ll do well in online review sites.