Have you ever visited a product review site that’s controlled by the manufacturer or distributor? Was every review complimentary of the product and the company? They frequently are.
Now, it’s very possible that all the reviews you see on those sites come from real people with legitimately favorable remarks. But the obvious question becomes, where are the negative reviews?
I want to ask decision makers at those companies these questions: Does every single person who has ever commented on your product really have great things to say about you and your product? Or is it possible you’ve removed commentary that doesn’t place your company or products in a favorable light?
I strongly suspect that those companies have deleted all critical reviews for the purpose of making readers think that everyone who has purchased their product has had a great experience with it.
Personally, I don’t think people are that dumb. I doubt if too many of them are fooled by that ploy. Especially because people are generally more likely to complain about something than they are to praise it.
I believe that having a product review site is a great idea. People are inundated with product offers every day, and if they are interested enough in your product to explore your claims, they deserve to know what previous or current customers have said about those products and the customer service you provide.
But if all they see are positive reviews, they’re going to think you’ve eliminated the negative ones. And that will make them question the legitimacy of the positive reviews that they would not have doubted had you included some negative comments.
So, including at least some negative reviews is a good idea. But – and this is the real key here – you need to respond to those negative comments on the same review site. For one, the reviewer might say something inaccurate about your product, and
if you don’t respond, it will look like you have no defense against the bogus criticism.
Here’s an example from our Food4Patriots product review site. Although a vast majority of the reviews we receive are favorable, we do get the occasional complaint. One customer wrote, “Is it true your product only supplies 640 calories a day? That is malnutrition in a box!!”
Well, because that’s not true, we had an opportunity to set the record straight, both for that customer and for others reading the reviews. Our response was, “That is incorrect information. Our current kits provide over 1,000 calories a day if you are using them as your sole source of nutrition with a nutritionally balanced spread of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.”
If we had eliminated the negative review, that particular customer would have walked away dissatisfied, and anyone else suspecting the same thing would have gone on thinking the same thing. By including it, we were able to address the issue and provide the truth.
Secondly, if you respond to complaints in a professional manner that makes readers realize you are concerned about your customers, they will be much more likely to engage with you and try your product.
Another negative review we received came from a diabetic with high cholesterol levels. He said that he would no longer purchase our products unless we could guarantee him that they were grain-free and corn-free.
That gave us an ideal opportunity to introduce him and other readers to two relatively new products: a fruit and veggie snack and a protein kit. Some readers probably did not know we offered those two products, and had we eliminated the negative comment, they still wouldn’t.
The bottom line is this: give customers a chance to voice their complaints in a public forum, then respond in a timely fashion in order to educate those current customers and other potential customers reading the reviews.
Keeping it real will benefit your company far more than presenting a phony façade.
Allen Baler is a leading entrepreneur and Harvard grad. Allen Baler is a Partner in 4Patriots LLC, based in Nashville.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for the sound advice of a business professional with expertise in the subject matter discussed. Please seek appropriate counsel on what strategies make sense for your business.