Back when I was Products Editor on motorcyclenews.com, I received a steady trickle of emails and phonecalls on the same theme. Each one was from a product manufacturer or retailer who had received a negative review or forum post and wanted to know what they could, and should, do about it.
Five+ years ago, the answer was mix of the insight and common sense that I possessed at the time. Unless the review or post was libellous (in which case the legal requirement was to remove it), the best thing that company could do would be to respond publicly with a polite and reasoned answer for what may have caused the problem, and if possible, potential solutions. That way they not only reached the complainant, but also the huge audience who would view everything without necessarily posting. It also ensured that the situation was likely to be defused straight away, rather than building up steam.
- 68% of consumers who posted a complaint or negative review on a social netowkring or reviews site got a response from the retailer, which led to 18% of them becoming loyal customers and buying more.
- Receiving a response meant 33% went back and posted a positive review, and 34% deleted their original negative review.
- And given that a big part of making sales and getting loyal customers is based around surprising them with things that make them happy – 61% of consumers would be shocked if a retailer responded to their nagtive comments on the social web.
- Plus, nearly a third of consumers research on social networking and reviews sites when they’re shopping online.
I’ve finally got some empirical evidence to back up my conversations all those years ago! Funnily enough, the evolution of those conversations was a questions and answers section named Ask An Expert, which asked representatives from suitable companies to be available to respond to reader questions. I’d prefer you didn’t mention the amount of interest and funding sites like Quora have generated more recently!
But it’s actually an even more important approach to me now as a business owner, not only do I continue to advise clients to respond publicly to negative complaints in a polite, responsible, and most importantly, active way, but I also have a responsibility to monitor and respond to comments and reviews of the two businesses I’m running to make sure that we do the best by our clients and customers. And if after all that, you’d rather ignore my advice, Harris research and any negative reviews, then I guess pointing to the example of Craiglist and Craig Newmark won’t change your mind. I can only hope you’re not a client, and you happen to run a marketing or web design and development business!