What we learn from customer review sites

The Village Blogger, after Albert AnkerThe other day I wrote about Tello, an iPhone app that customers can use to rate customer service. CEO Joe Beninato stated his reviews were primarily intended to thank employees for their excellent customer service. What happens, however when review sites become the venue for disgruntled and grudge carrying individuals or even competing companies?

Feedback on product or service reviews can actually help organizations to improve. Even if our feelings get hurt because we put our heart and soul into creating that pink and green leather purse, and several customers wrote reviews commenting how poorly the stitching was done or that the shoulder strap was too long, if we listened to the reviews, most probably the comments could make the product more desirable. If there’s a review on the lack of customer service for a particular organization concerning a poor follow-up or an unsatisfying problem resolution, couldn’t that kind of criticism lead to a better protocol in the future? That is of course if the organization pays attention.

Not too long ago I posted the story about Dimitris Papadimitriadis, a Greek physician who brought his Apple computer to SystemGraph for repairs. When the company did not repair his computer to his satisfaction, Papadimitriadis posted a comment on a public forum. The post wasn’t especially derogatory, but the company sued him for defamation and libel. That action probably has not helped the company, but where does freedom of expression end and libel begin?

With the new deluge of review sites, plus Facebook and Twitter, are customers, clients, and frauds taking too many liberties? We all know positive feedback helps, but when feedback goes nasty and is posted on public forums, how should organizations handle the bad press? Perhaps sometime in the near future, Facebook, and Twitter will have to become more responsible for libelous statements, but until then much of that isn’t controlled even though the Facebook and Twitter “police” have been known to delete unsuitable and derogatory comments.

Customer feedback and reviews need to be constructive. Bashing doesn’t serve any purpose. I tend not to even read those kind of posts because normally they are by anonymous posters. Who has any credibility when they post as an anonymous reviewer or critic? So what’s the acceptable protocol if your blog becomes a playground for negativity and abusive treatment?

Customer review sites need to have clearly stated rules and guidelines. We should not ban negative reviews, because that actually helps us improve and leads to authenticity of our organizations. Face the facts – not everyone is going to like your products or your services. Banning anonymous posters, deleting abusive language, and deleting defamatory remarks help to control the hit and miss mean spirited person. People should be required to register before they post. If a really bad review comes in, a moderator should be able to write back to that person and ask for verification. If it is a real person with a credible problem, an organization will want to follow-up; at the very least it provides another opportunity for a company to show they listen and work to correct problems.

It’s really easy to ignore criticism, and in some cases people just want to complain. If there’s nothing constructive to come out of the complaints, it might be the time to just ignore it since responding  could just bring more negativity. Do what you can to provide the best service and products; that’s still the secret to success.

photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

One Response to “What we learn from customer review sites”

  1. Kathy Clark said:

    Feb 12, 11 at 2:20 pm

    I absolutely agree! Negative comments without constructive opinion serves no one. Most businesses want to learn to do things better but there is a professional way to go about providing feedback. Standards for courtesy and professionalism is an area that the internet is still lacking.