Customers may be prompted to write a negative review over a positive one

Customer review sites and social media are anything but a waste of time.

Customer review sites and social media are anything but a waste of time, and new research suggests businesses that do not take the time to ramp up their customer service practices and engage with consumers directly will pay in the form of lost sales.

Four in 10 consumers claim they are more likely to consider buying from a business that responds to negative reviews, and more than two-thirds appreciate being asked to write an online review.

These are the results of a survey released this week by online reputation tracker RatePoint. The study also found consumers may be more likely to write a review based on a poor experience than a positive one, underscoring the need for firms to improve their customer service standards.

"Local business owners who turn a blind eye or don't ask for reviews are simply missing out," said RatePoint CEO Keith Cooper. "Consumers appreciate being asked and are waiting to post reviews about their positive experiences. If local businesses never ask for reviews, they are missing out on a wealth of positive feedback that will attract new customers."