Who’s Bad-Mouthing Your Business? It Could Be Your Best Customers

adminCustomer Reviews, Negative Reviews, Reputation Management, Research

Think those one-star reviews of your business on Yelp or your local Patch are spurious? That the guy who hates the presentation of your chef’s shepherd’s pie just doesn’t get it? Or that the complaint about your receptionist’s lousy demeanor was seeded by a devious competitor?

Think again. A new study from researchers at MIT and Nortwestern finds that devoted customers are the ones who vent the most in online reviews about negative experiences with products and brands. Oh, and they make stuff up to get their point across. Not to worry, though:  they’re doing it for you. You’re welcome.

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It turns out that your customers may be taking it upon themselves to act as brand managers for your business. Like the Harley Davidson riders who eviscerated an iconic American motorcycle company for extending its brand to a perfume, they are ranting for a cause.

While it can be hard to know whether a given rant came from a loyal customer or some more nefarious source, the new study is an eye-opener for business owners and marketers. Clearly, it behooves you to treat any negative review potentially as constructive criticism to help you deal with what needs fixing.

Instead of self-destructing like Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro and adding fuel to the fire of a customer’s unmet needs, it is wiser to try to fix the problem. Reach out respectfully. Explain that you’d like to learn more from them about how to prevent dissatisfied customers. Getting to the heart of the matter with a non-confrontational message will speak volumes of your integrity and the integrity of your business.

Besides, whether or not the customer is wrong is never up for debate, and the self-appointed brand managers are here to stay. So, fear no troll. And take solace in knowing that the energy they put into their rants may actually stem from the faith they have in the future of your brand.