Coal into Diamonds - Turning Bad Consumer Reviews into Good
We often advise our clients to allow consumers to post reviews on the company website. From the looks of horror on their faces you would think we had proposed offing Granny for the insurance money. (For the record, we don’t recommend doing that.) We explain that there are easy and safe ways of controlling trolls, potty mouths and outright fraudulent reviews. Then the client asks, “but what if somebody leaves a bad review?
We maintain that even bad reviews can benefit your brand. This blog post will show you how.
First, a confession. One of us, at CE Marketing Pros, has been the customer from hell (Comcast probably has him on a hit list). Chances are, at some point you have been an angry irrational customer too. Your anger seemed entirely rational to you at the time. You trusted the brand; you trusted the product or service. You were excited about it. You spent hard earned money and…it didn’t work. Arrgh.
If you complained, you’re one of the few. Most customers do not complain, only 20% of online reviews are negative.1 The larger problem is that for every complaint you hear there are 26 unhappy customers that you’ll never hear from.2 And those twenty-six dissatisfied customers will walk away from your brand and tell their friends online and off.
“Customers very rarely complain to the service/ product provider. Instead they will tell their friends, who will in turn tell their friends, creating a pyramid of dissatisfaction.” 2
So if you get a bad review what do you do? First, you have to make sure there are procedures in place to respond immediately to all complaints and all reviews of 3 or fewer stars. You should also make the time to thank those who leave glowing reviews. That makes customers feel better about posting the review and it encourages others to write their own good reviews. (And it’s just good manners as Granny would tell you.) According to a Bazaarvoice study, shoppers who read helpful brand responses to reviews are 186% more likely to make a purchase and show 157% higher average product sentiment.1
No one wants to see a bad review or complaint but the smart marketer will make lemonade out of lemons. Complaints are teaching moments that, properly handled, can add value to your brand in four ways.
- They offer the opportunity to demonstrate outstanding customer service. A good marketer will make certain that all complaints get a fast response – less than 24 hours. Whether by email, by phone or in a review response, the customer will always react positively to your outreach. Most are stunned that you would even care. And we have found that the majority of problems can be resolved to everyone’s delight. More often than not great customer service will turn your most vocal critics into equally vocal supporters and advocates for the brand that listens. And of those viewing your responses online, 41% will see it as a sign that the brand really cares about its customers.1
- They validate the authenticity of the good reviews. Sites that only display glowing reviews are viewed as being non-credible. Nobody believes that 100% of buyers are thrilled and that any given product is perfect in every way. They will rightly conclude that all the bad reviews have been suppressed, and they may even conclude that the good reviews are fakes. Demonstrate that the reviews on your site are honest and real and the good ones will have more credibility and power.
- They shine light on product issues. Few product developers have the intuition and absolute power of Steve Jobs who would postpone product introductions indefinitely until every detail including features, accessories, packaging and marketing were flawless. We often have to learn from customers where we missed the target. Still, that’s preferable to wearing blinders. Customers will tell you things that you never thought of. They will use the product in ways you can’t imagine. You may be able to use the feedback to improve existing product but you can certainly use it to make the next product better.
- They help you refine your marketing message, presentation and collateral. It is the plight of the marketer that he/she is forced to create positioning and marketing materials before all is known about the product. Being in the unenviable position of developing marketing programs and materials without ever seeing a finished product happens all too often. Customer responses will tell you whether you over-promised, missed the target on messaging, properly explained the functions of the product and its value proposition as well as tell you whether you chose the right distribution channels. All is priceless in helping you better understand, target and sell the product.
We live in a connected world. The beauty of the Internet is that even a small company with a great product can attract the attention of thousands. Just as word of a company’s flawed product or, more critically, poor customer service will spread like wildfire. If you’re winging it with customer reviews and complaints, you’re flirting with disaster.
If you don’t have well articulated written customer service policies and procedures that everyone who interfaces with consumers has seen and adopted, stop what you doing and deal with that now. Handling consumer complaints promptly in a consistent manner, particularly online, is vital. It’s the most important thing you can do today. One final thought: never outsource your customer service. Ever. More on this in a future blog post.
If your website does not have provision for consumer reviews you are missing a golden marketing opportunity. CE Marketing Pros can help you implement a review system that enhances your brand's image and increases sales.
About CE-Marketing Pros
We’re a full service marketing/advertising agency specializing in helping consumer electronics brands and retailers compete more effectively. Former marketing executives with two of the most successful CE brands, Al Ballard and Paul DiComo help brands STAND OUT in a crowded and confusing CE marketplace.
WE KNOW CE.
1 The Conversation Index, Vol. 6, Bazaarvoice
2 1999, TARP worldwide