Whether you’re working with huge, mile high marketing budgets or shoe string budgets, getting negative reviews on your service or product is disheartening, to say the least. You’ve poured your heart and soul into this and you believe it’s the most perfect thing in the world and EVERYONE will love it. Unfortunately, the reality is that not everyone will love it and that’s okay. I read a recent article by Beth Harpaz titled The Ethics Behind Paying to Remove Negative User Reviews that shares a story of a person who wrote a negative review about a hotel stay. After the negative review was posted, the man was contacted and paid a sum of money to have the review removed. As a small business owner, I can see where the hotel owner’s logic came from to make this proposal. However, as a traveler and consumer, this type of activity is ridiculous and undermines what Web 2.0 is all about.
When content was first put on the internet, it was always pushing information. There was no conversation that was occurring between companies and consumers. Now in the Web 2.0 era, consumer reviews are king and provide valuable information for other consumers. I truly believe that paying to remove negative reviews is cowardly and creates a partial picture of what is really happening at that hotel. It’s much like the Facebook phenomenon where you believe that your friends are living a 110% happier and successful life than you and how could you ever keep up?
Rather than paying to remove the review, why not use the “pay off” money to fix the problem? Transparency with consumers is KEY and this hotel could have replied to the review with an open apology and state whatever the remedy would be. This takes courage because the black eye remains, however you have now shown the entire community that you’ve acknowledged the problem, remedied the customer, and now have taken public accountability to make the change. THAT is what earns trust and wins loyalty.
Seth Godin mentioned in a podcast that there are 3 components of every transaction.
- Transaction - this is the exchange of money
- Trust - with every transaction, if you’re doing what you said you will do, you’re earning the trust of your customer
- Recommendations - if you’ve earned trust, your customers will be willing to share your services and products with their circles of influence
Doing business solely for transactions will put you into a death spiral with customers that will just use you. I’ve seen it first hand. However, earning trust and recommendations will develop loyal customers who are willing to give you honest feedback. What are your thoughts on paying to remove negative reviews?