Fall in positive online reviews detected this year as new details emerge of challenges facing businesses through cost of living crisis

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This article is brought to you by Retail Technology Review: Fall in positive online reviews detected this year as new details emerge of challenges facing businesses through cost of living crisis.

New data has revealed there’s been a fall in positive sentiment in reviews recorded on Trustpilot in the UK since April this year, as consumers continue to feel the impact of the cost of living crisis.

As part of the new quarterly ‘Online Review Index’, which is a dip into review data highlighting customer sentiment across the platform, there was a 5% fall in positive reviews (which equates to nearly 50,000 fewer positive reviews). Reviews help shed light on how consumers are interacting with businesses and how businesses themselves are ultimately performing.

The number of positive reviews still outweigh negative reviews and they make up the majority of all reviews on Trustpilot. But the tracker found that the number of negative reviews did increase by 3%, suggesting some businesses could be finding it hard to maintain good levels of service as they face difficult trading conditions brought on by supply chain issues, energy costs, inflation and rising interest rates. Overall, the number of the reviews submitted to the Trustpilot platform continues to increase, suggesting reviews remain a crucial part of the consumer’s shopping experience.        

As well as overall figures for customer sentiment, Trustpilot’s tracker is able to measure how different sectors are performing. The electronics, technology and entertainment sectors saw the biggest increases in negative sentiment in online reviews, and across all the sectors the same issues were highlighted. The biggest problems appeared to be centred around mistakes made with orders, frustration when dealing with businesses, issues around the delivery of products and poor customer service. For the sectors that had fewest negative reviews — travel, construction, manufacturing and education — levels of customer service were praised highly. 

It comes as consumer research carried out for Trustpilot earlier this year on the cost of living crisis revealed that almost three quarters of Brits said they had not experienced any businesses going above and beyond to help them - whether that’s discounts, free upgrades or providing cashback options.

Worse still, 30 percent claim companies have used the current economic situation to treat them poorly, using unfair practices or taking advantage of the difficult circumstances. A lack of price transparency, shrinkflation — items shrinking in size, quantity or reducing quality, while their prices remain the same or increase — and VAT cuts not being passed on, for example at petrol pumps, were among some of the top concerns raised.

Mieke De Schepper, Trustpilot’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “Through Trustpilot’s new quarterly ‘Online Review Index’ we now have the ability to understand how consumers are feeling about businesses from the way they write reviews. 

“It’s a unique way to measure how customers are interacting with a range of companies and organisations, and it’s especially valuable as the UK continues to grapple with the cost of living crisis.

“On the face of it, 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.

“With consumers’ purse strings stretched more than ever, the evidence suggests reviews are playing an increasingly influential role in helping shoppers ensure they’re not just getting a good experience, but genuine value for money too - and businesses should heed that those who feel they’re getting a raw deal will not hesitate in voicing their concerns.”

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