Color Me [My Business] Badd – or The Value of a Bad Review

Est. Reading Time: 4 minutes

As social media and traditional internet continue to blur their boundaries, the availability of online reviews has never been higher.  You can read about people’s experiences with given companies in blog posts, on forums, in countless yellow page directories, and even on Twitter or other social media.  Have you searched for you company in Twitter yet?  You may find what your customers are saying about you to be very interesting and/or surprising.  Good reviews offer free online advertising, but bad reviews may be even more valuable!  If the latter part of that statement seems odd to you, read on…

There are three primary benefits that a bad review can offer.  You might be able to think of more, but I think most can fit under these large umbrellas:

None of this is to say that ALL publicity is good publicity.  JetBlue was once seen as a legitimate competitor to Southwest Airlines as the king of airline efficiency, but its image still has not fully recovered from stranding thousands of passengers (including leaving planes on the runway for up to 8 hours) after a snowstorm in February of 2007.  This came just two years after Thomas Friedman raved about their efficient information systems consisting of mothers-working-from-their-homes-across-the-entire-country in his best seller The World is Flat.  It turns out that it was a great system…as long as everything was working perfectly.  When it fell apart, the results were disastrous and JetBlue saw its stock price fall 70% over the next year.

Take all this advice within reason.  If you are getting 5-15% bad reviews, use them to build and improve your business.  If you are getting 80% bad reviews, go back to school and learn a new trade.

Finally, I leave you with this takeaway – encourage all your customers to write and publish reviews online, even the dissatisfied ones.  Put a link to your Twitter or Facebook feed on your site, or send people to your favorite yellow pages directory and ask them to review their experience.  Do not try to act as a censor (provided that it is not obvious spam or an attack from a competitor), encourage free expression and feedback.  Your ego may take a hit, but your business will love it.

-EW, follow me on twitter: @ejwestksu