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Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Review?

A couple of days ago, a “Singaporean community news service and content aggregator” published an article Lavastone Steakhouse Facebook Review page shows why FB owners should not react to bad reviews. While the headline should be taken in context instead of at face value, it got me thinking about the fears behind negative online reviews, and how unjustified fears are more damaging to businesses than a mere piece of criticism. So after suggesting some best practices for handling negative online reviews, I'll like to discuss why the fears behind negative online reviews are unjustified.

Criticisms are Opportunities for Improvement!

As students, we were often graded with feedback in order to improve our understanding of a lesson. So why are we so afraid of a little (negative) feedback? Shouldn't critiques be perceived as directions for improvement?

Business managers aren't omniscient, and customers' feedback often highlight areas of operations that are flawed. Perhaps, it's an isolated incident, or a customer being unreasonable, but in many cases, customer complains are a legit reasons for change. Be wise, and take your customers' advice seriously, instead of acting like a defensive fool.

As illustrated in the Lavastone saga, while the bad review was unflattering, Lavastone's extreme fear of negative comments led to an increasing emotional and aggressive reactions. Should Lavastone have remained calm and replied as a humble student seeking for ways to improve their product and pricing, instead of attacking the reviewer, the media wouldn't have picked up on the negative review. Therefore it was not the bad Facebook review that cost Lavastone reputation damages, but their fear driven reaction that fueled negative press.

Bad Reviews are Opportunities for Displaying Brand Personalities!

For public relations practitioners, every "crisis" is an opportunity, so is every negative review. When a customer engages with your business online, they are reaching out to communicate with you in a public sphere visible to everyone. In the new media landscape, humanizing your brand with a personalized reply provides an opportunity to be perceived as humorous, humble, sincere, reasonable or any desired adjective under the sun!

This creative video by BodyForm has been an all time favourite of mine, but United Airlines and Crab in da Bag have some good responses worthy of mention too.

Bad Reviews are Opportunities for Media Victories!

02 turns negative reviews into a media win
Sometimes a bad situation handled well can turn into a positive and media worthy event. Since many of your competitors may have unjustified fears of engaging with bad reviews, all it takes is a sincere and well thought out response to stand out as a brand. Try injecting some creativity or go the extra mile to do the right thing, and you'll never know who's paying attention!
Thanks for taking time to read this article.
What are your thoughts on negative online reviews, and whether they warrant fear from social media managers? What are some of your positive experiences with negative feedback? Are there other reasons why we shouldn't be afraid of the big bad review?

Share your thoughts in the comments section below, start a conversation with me via Twitter or find out more about online reputation management on Content Convo today.

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