Abhishek Anand

@abyshake

Why ‘managing’ negative reviews is the worst idea

There are businesses out there that help you fetch and delete/suppress negative reviews. Not resolve, but suppress. It’s the wrong thing to do. Both on moral and business grounds.

Listen to your customers’ negative feedback. It’ll help your business. (img)

I received the most disturbing message on LinkedIn today. Here it goes.

The email was from the relationship manager at a “Online Reputation Management and Digital Marketing company”

More often than not, such messages are ignored, but I do skim through them to see if there is something of value there. As I went through this one, this caught my eye.

Suppression of the negative content and links.

Suppression?? Really?

The next two points were equally disturbing.

Permanent Deletion of the negative content, videos, news, blogs, etc.
De-indexing of the negative links.

Holy fuck!

Now, I am not naive. I know some brands do engage in such practices, and when there is a demand, it was logical that businesses would spring up catering to that demand. The point is — that demand shouldn’t exist.

I DON’T BLAME HER FOR REACHING OUT

After all, she was just doing her job. To a large extent, I don’t blame her employer as well. They saw an opportunity to make a quick buck, so who am I to question their readiness to make the best of that.

I blame the brands, the businesses who have created the demand for such services. And I pity them because they are spending thousands of dollars into a futile exercise, and wasting away what could have been a tremendous opportunity to grow as a business.

WHY NEGATIVE REVIEWS MATTER

All reviews matter. A lot. If you’ve gone through the deck on referral marketing I had shared earlier, right there at the beginning (the second slide itself), I talk about the power of social proof in today’s world.

Positive reviews, even from strangers, helps us make the buying decision with more ease of mind. Negative reviews cements our skepticism. And that is why this market — one to eliminate and make negative reviews go poof — exists.

But the fact is, there is nothing more reinforcing in front of a customer than watching a negative review get turned around. It demonstrates the will and resolve of the business to attain maximum customer satisfaction and shows that they would even go the extra mile to achieve that.

Don’t eliminate negative reviews. Turn them around!

In my previous organization, one of the first mandates I passed on to the person handling our app store pages was that all negative reviews should be brought to my attention and the attention of the direct stakeholder within hours. And then we would see if we could turn that frown upside down.

Negative reviews also help you understand two things:

  1. What do you need to change/modify/alter in your product, operations or approach?
  2. What is it that is preventing your users and customers from achieving that wow moment when they simply fall in love with you?

Essentially it helps you get a lot of info that you need to become a better business. So, the way I see it, negative reviews work. Why the hell would you want to eliminate them??

Work with them.

That’s it for today; see you tomorrow.

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Well, frankly that’s all I wanted to talk about.
But, while we are on the subject of reviews, let us talk about it a bit more. You can skip this part if you would like to.

REVIEWS ARE A FUNNY BUSINESS

It doesn’t matter which line of business you are into, you cannot and willnot be perfect. That’s a fact. There may be shortfalls in your operations, or you may be doing everything right, but even then perfection is largely perceptive. So — you will not be perfect for everybody. Anyway.

There are a few things that you need to come to terms with.

#1. Just because you are providing the best possible services, people won’t leave you positive reviews

As disappointing as that may sound, it is the truth. Your customers aren’t exactly fast and loose with doling out raves and praises. They would love your services, and either praise you in their heads, or just dismiss it thinking its your job to provide a good service (which is not a wrong notion, to be honest).

Best case scenarios?

  1. They have had some bad experiences in past with service providers in your domain, so you surprised them. And for that, they will remember you for life.
  2. They loved your service, so there is a 40–70% chance that the next time they need a similar service, your name would be the first to pop in their heads.
  3. They are having a conversation with a friend, and the topic of a particular service crops up. Incidentally, that is the very service you provide. They will talk about it. Now, you have a referral.

But other than that, yeah — you aren’t getting any positive reviews.

Unless you ask for it.

Yes. If you know your customer has been delighted by your services, ask them to leave a positive review for you. Follow some simple rules though:

  1. Make the process of leaving the review simple, easy and non-time consuming.
  2. Get it at the earliest. As soon as you have wowed the customer. The more time lapses, the chances of you getting that review go down and down.

But even then, not all would leave that much coveted review. Think for yourself. How many times has a customer service representative asked you to take a min. to leave a review for him/her after having successfully resolved your issue over the call/chat, and how many times have you actually done that?

Your consumers aren’t any different.

#2. Your consumer will go out of his/her way to leave a negative review as soon as you cross a threshold.

It is easy to evoke a negative emotion in your consumers, and if they are even slightly pissed, they would feel more compelled to leave a negative review for you. Putting that in context, you need to make the customer feel overjoyed for them to even remotely consider leaving you a positive review on their own.

For a negative review, even a typo on the delivery slip might be enough for some people.

Different people have different ideas on what line can’t and shouldn’t be crossed by a business. The minimum service expectation they have off of you. Fall short and you are inviting a backlash.

#3. Some consumers will leave a negative review just because you ticked them off. Whether you deserved it or not, it won’t matter.

Don’t believe me?

Take the example of Snapdeal witnessing TENS OF THOUSANDS of app uninstalls and negative reviews on the playstore. And why did that happen? Because Snap’s (which is still popularly known as Snapchat) CEO allegedly made some anti-India remarks. Someone on Twitter messed up and wrote Snapdeal instead of Snapchat. And from there it just snowballed. Sure, even the backlash Snapchat had to face was something I don’t agree with, but Snapdeal? They just got caught in the crosshairs for nothing.

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