Why Negative Online Reviews are Good

When it comes to Web 2.0 and social media, many organizations hate the idea of losing control over what is said about their brand or products.  For many years, companies avoided engaging in newer online technologies that facilitate customer feedback in public mediums for this very reason.  How could they these mediums, monitor them all, and get any value out from them?  It was scary and social media scares many companies today.

Even negative review can be good.

Even negative reviews can be good.

Take the Dive

More recently, companies have plunged into social media, but there are still concerns about negative reviews.  I believe this to be counter-intuitive thinking.  If your product is great and your customer service is fantastic, social media is your friend.  If your social media strategy listens to, interacts with, and gives your customers a means to voice their opinions you are on the right track.

When I think about businesses, particularly B-to-C companies, that avoid entering social media out of fear, I pause and question whether their products are good enough to take the plunge.  The truth is social media isn’t for every company, but if your products are good and your customer service is great, negative reviews can actually improve your brand.

Company Case Studies

Companies listening to and engaging with their customers are finding that negative reviews capture nuggets of information that allow marketers to better understand their customer.  From the design, delivery, and return of a product, negative reviews can actually help companies improve their brand image.  Still don’t believe me?  Perhaps these companies case studies will show you how negative reviews can be beneficial.

Rubbermaid  – Rubbermaid has had success listening and responding with better product design.  As this post shows, sometimes it’s not your product that needs help, its communicating how to use it properly.

Dell –  Distinguished itself for bad customer service and as a consequence has structured itself to address it very well online. At last check, Dell employs 35 “community ambassadors” who troll the web listening and conversing with customers on popular social networking sites, blogs, all over the world.

Merck – Merck was very resistant to using blogs and allowing comments on it because of regulatory fear (having to monitor and report posted adverse effects).  At first, the launch of one of Merck’s blogs saw a negative drug review and they wanted to take the comment off the site.  Soon, however, supporters of their life-saving drug flocked to the site criticizing the negative review and singing the drug’s praises and the preponderance of positive comments put the drug in a favorable light.

Negative Reviews Really can be Good

Ultimately, negative reviews are good for:

1. Better understanding your customer’s needs and experience  –  This knowledge will allow you to better communicate usage; features and benefits; and shed light on potential opportunities to make a better product that meets customer needs.

2. Righting what’s wrong  –  Turn an annoyed customer into a delighted one by acting swiftly and unexpectedly.  If you had an issue with a product and posted something online and all of a sudden a someone addressed your issue by going above an beyond your expectations, you’d be impressed. Imagine how one of your customers would feel if you responded in an unexpected way.

3. Generating positive attention – The adage any publicity is good publicity may make you cringe, but the positive publicity your company can garner by addressing the negative review (righting what’s wrong) can turn a frustrated customers into customer advocate.  Think of all the referrals a customer advocate that already has proven they will talk about your brand could generate because of the goodwill you’ve created by addressing their issue.

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