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September 10, 2010

The Beauty of Reviews – Good and Bad

I was taught, way back when I was in sales, to ask for a report card from clients ESPECIALLY when you think it’s going to be a bad one. This gives you a chance to address the issues with the client, let them know you are listening and concerned, and turn those issues around. Plus you get extra points for being proactive.

Many companies that are reluctant to dive into social media tell me that they are afraid of their brand being “out there” for public criticism — whether it is deserved or not. Reputation management is one of the key objectives for which SMM (social media marketing) can be used, and that same “report card” lesson applies.

No one can debate the benefits that a good review or customer comment can provide to any business. But a bad review, or blog/Twitter comment, can be just as useful if it is addressed correctly and in a timely manner. Below are some tips on how to make lemonade out of that potential lemon of a review.

Assess the damage

-Take some time to figure out what kind of comment it is, how it’s intended and where it’s coming from.

-Is it constructive criticism? If the customer truly caught a problem and is bringing it to your attention, that’s a very good thing.

-Is it seemingly well intentioned? The tone, message, or verbiage may be cutting but is the intention good — to help you as a business owner recognize a problem and address it.

-Is it venting after a frustrating experience? The venting might be volatile and angry, but if it’s ultimately helping you recognize a problem, it’s still a good thing.

-Does it sound just hurtful? You know pure anger when you hear it. You may then decide whether or not to respond.

Decide how you are going to respond, but whatever it is, respond quickly.

-Be sure to respond directly and personally (in tone) and don’t hide behind corporate speak.

-Stay proactive, positive and productive.

-Don’t ever be defensive, that never helps anything.

-If criticism identifies a real problem, cop to it, offer information on solutions that are already in progress, or at least offer some info on your intention to address the issues.

-If reviewer discussion is too hot and you do want to respond and find that it is appropriate to respond, then take it off line. Provide an 800 number or email address or just your business phone number and invite the commenter to call to figure it all out.

When NOT to react

-If you are too angry – chill for a day or so. Reacting in the heat of battle will never result in anything positive

-If the reviewer is angry at the world, not necessarily your business

-If the review is spamming or trolling, just looking for linking or trackbacks – just ignore it. This is one of the artful aspects of good PR, knowing when NOT to make a mountain out of a molehill.

Even a bad review can be good. Remember that mantra of social media connect/create/engage. The secret sauce is transparency. A bad review addressed is a very good thing. Don’t be afraid to have your brand out there, it’s all good.


Elyse Tager is a social media strategist and founder of Elymedia, a marketing and media company with a foot in both worlds – online and offline. Elyse develops effective marketing strategies to help the small business grow significantly. Want to learn more about growing your business with Social Media? Sign up for Elyse’s free introductory teleseminar available at =>
www.elymedia.com/freeclass.html.

4 Responses to “The Beauty of Reviews – Good and Bad

    Very well written!
    Good advice!
    The only thing I can add to it is:
    always respond politely even if the claim is valid.

    avatar Elyse Tager says:

    Thanks. That’s true in all of life, no?

    Agree, but there are also several “juvenile” clients out there who might post som absurd negative reviews. And what about all these review sites where for instance your competitors could post negative reviews just to ruin your business. It could be wise to use Google Alert to monitor what people say about your site.

    avatar Virtual Character says:

    Even if those companies won’t dive into Social Media, they can still be talked about. I mean people can just write something about them and in one way or another it will reach them.

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