Faking User Reviews – Never a Good Idea

Negative customer product reviews

B2C tech companies should understand bad reviews are possible.

If you’re a B2C technology company, you probably have a product or service that is being reviewed on some forum, message board, blog or an article’s comments section. For local small businesses, Yelp is one such medium and Entrepreneur magazine has written an article with tips for dealing with bad reviews. Tech companies understand the importance of user reviews across these mediums. One well known company, Belkin (among others), has even allegedly been caught writing favorable fake reviews for themselves. This is a big no-no. So, what else should B2C tech companies do to get more favorable user reviews?

Start With the Product First, if you’re getting a lot of bad product reviews from actual users, you might want to start with reevaluating your product. For example, if you sell a digital camera and a lot of user reviews are complaining that the shutter release button is too sensitive, you may want to address it. Perhaps your internal QA has demonstrated otherwise but, consumer experience is everything. You should seriously consider making the shutter release button less sensitive, particularly if you are getting far fewer reviews stating that it is just right.

Bill Gates is said to have commented, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Tech companies would do well to take this advice rather than bandage bad reviews with fake positive reviews.

Get Involved I’ve jumped on countless forums, message boards, etc. when I have a problem with a gadget. I’ve always been impressed when I come across a board where a representative of the company has taken the time to jump in and totally resolve the customer’s problem. Usually, it also resolved my issue and that of dozens others on the board or forum. This is a great strategy for B2C tech companies. It’s a good idea to have a dedicated person or team monitoring online conversations about their products. But, it shouldn’t be just to gather sentiment. It should be to get involved, particularly if there is a problem. The representative should be technically savvy enough with the product to resolve most customer issues. If not, there should be a channel open to someone that will. See it through too. Make sure the last comment is from the customer with a “Thanks for the help. That fixed it.”

Negative Media Product Review If you sell a B2C tech product, you’re probably trying to secure product reviews from related tech media. If you’re fortunate enough to get a review and it turns out not as good as you hoped it’s generally best to leave the review alone. That doesn’t mean you should not react. Keeping with the above digital camera example, let’s say the editor made the same negative comment that the shutter is too sensitive – you shoot pictures before you’re ready. Put a plan together to fix the problem, particularly if this comment keeps showing up. Once you’ve decided you will address the problem, contact the relevant media about your plans to address it. Once you’ve resolved it, invite them to a new review of the new product.

Most people are aware of the iPhone 5’s negative product reviews, particularly the maps and the purple “haze” in the camera. Companies like this should remind people they are entitled to a full refund within a time limit. At the very least, if you cannot satisfy a customer with a fix, at least satisfy them with good customer service so they’ll consider you again in the future. Going a step further, you may even give them a coupon for a percentage off the next version. This helps not only satisfy them but also to keep their mind share looking out for your next version. If they were interested once, this will be helpful to keep them interested again.

There are a plethora of other strategies for resolving negative customer reviews or negative media product reviews. Whatever program you put in place, make sure it first resolves any truly significant product shortfalls. You can’t make anyone happy while they use a poor product. The next consideration must be compensation. This includes a no-questions asked refund but, going a step further with a coupon for future purchases will help differentiate your company’s customer service.

Remember that no public relations, marketing or social media strategy can fix a poor product. Public relations, marketing and social media can only help make a good product stand out and sell better. So, start with a good product backed by good customer service. Then you’re PR, marketing and social media efforts can be fully realized – to grow market awareness, credibility and sales.