Why Negative Online Feedback Should Be Embraced

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We’re told negative online feedback harms companies. We disagree. Companies have become so obsessed with positive feedback that they will go to great lengths to hide or even erase negative online feedback in an effort to look good in the eyes of potential customers. In doing so, they fail to engage with customers who appreciate and love the brand in the process. My advice: Forget what the Debbie downers have to say and embrace them!

It sounds counterproductive, but embracing both positive and negative feedback in social media marketing has a strong upside. Here are just a few of the upsides:

  • Responding constructively to negative reviews shows your dedication to customer service. It solves “the problem” for businesses head on. Customers know that you care and, more than likely, positive attention comes out of it. A few tips: Be cordial and direct, but never admit wrongdoing if the company is in the right. Avoid offering incentives (gift cards, coupons, etc.) to influence an outcome.
  • A balance of both positive and negative reviews makes businesses look authentic, grounded and transparent. With the rise of social media, people have become more comfortable airing their grievances online. Now you can’t be a legit business without a solid  balance of positive and negative reviews. Think about it, which looks more authentic: a business with 100% glowing, positive reviews or a business with a measured take on the good, the bad and the average?
  • Negative reviews, balanced with positive ones, makes you more visible online. There is an abundance of paid and fake reviews out there. Unfortunately, this is the online world in which we live. The only ones that have a chance of success is the ones with reviews in the middle. Search engines are becoming smarter and they won’t accept reviews that lean in one direction anymore. (Yelp “filter”, anyone?)
  • Negative reviews provide a means for receiving constructive criticism. Not everyone is writing negative reviews to be spiteful. Some negative reviews are advising you to look into a serious situation involving customers service, co-workers, management, the facility or more. Take this feedback into account as a consideration to improve your business, better train your staff or change processes.
  • Negative reviews do not speak for everyone. As technology advances consumers are becoming more savvy and adept at spotting false and/or biased reviews. After reading multiple reviews, consumers will notice the ones that don’t make sense or sound rude and condescending. There is a difference between constructive criticism and nasty, spiteful feedback and the consumer. Constructive criticism is more respected because it doesn’t bash the company or product; it is an honest review stating the positives and negatives in an objective way. Flat-out criticism is on the same line as sugar-coated positive feedback — it’s too extreme. Instead of running immediately to positive feedback, consumers will think twice and read both positive and negative reviews for well-rounded decision making.

We embrace positive comments because it makes us look good. We encourage positive feedback for business growth. Do the same for negative feedback. Customers are aiming for realistic reviews. They know that you can’t get 11o% of anything and they recognize that getting 110% of something is unrealistic. They will weigh the good with the bad and make a sound decision.

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On April 8, 2014

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