The Mmm...Letter
The Mmm...letter Podcast
Stab The Messenger

Stab The Messenger

Or, You Know, Fix the Problem

It came to a shouting match. Our team was winding down a conference call when the CEO brought up customer reviews. Two-months ago, I convinced us to partner with a well-known review site, let’s call them ConfidenceCaptain, or CC for short.

On the call, our CEO went for their throat; he railed against their business practices. He used that as a pretext to demand we terminate our relationship. I bristled at the suggestion.

At the turn of the year, we had a glowing reputation on CC’s platform — and by glowing, I mean radioactive. Based on two-dozen reviews, our score was 1.8 out of 5-stars. Yum. Anyone stumbling across our page was running, not walking, into the arms of the competition; competition who fared much better on CC’s platform. I was hell bent on changing that.

By partnering with them, we were able to invite customers to leave reviews without them having to create an account with CC. Furthermore, we were granted 90-days to invite customers en masse to provide honest feedback right from their inbox. This had mixed results.

As of now, we have a 3-star rating, which is an undeniable and significant improvement from our previous... situation. However, you can’t take the good and leave the bad. We had some serious and unattractive new feedback to contend with.

Our CEO argued that the renewed attention to CC’s platform raised its profile on Google Search, insuring that more prospects would find the negative reviews. He called this, “bad marketing.”

I sat dumbfounded, realizing we had very different models of the world. As he argued to choose a new platform or pay for reviews elsewhere, I loaded my canons.

In words that were 80% less pleasant than the ones I’m about to use, I snapped. If our reviews, or any brand’s genuine reviews are negative, that is not the fault of the platform. Let alone from one which our rivals greatly benefit.

Furthermore, rather than diverting energy toward damage control, minimization, and cover-ups, we should do everything in our power to prevent extremely negative experiences from ever occurring. Experiences such as getting locked out of your account for over a year, unable to reach support, yet still making on-time payments — thank you, recurring subscription model!

And we only discovered this customer after inviting him to leave a review.

Based on how we reacted to this situation, we’ve earned all 3 of our stars. And until we change our attitude, we will remain a 3-star business. No amount of complaining will change that.

While reviews are an imperfect measure, they are on the whole correct. We mustn’t fear them, nor dismiss them. Authentic feedback is best for businesses and for consumers, a group to which we all belong.

So if you’re willing to improve, you should welcome negative reviews. And if you’re not, then sharpen your stabbing knives and go kill yourself some customers, err, messengers.

The Mmm...Letter
The Mmm...letter Podcast
This audio column explores the intersection of culture, business, and morality. But mostly fart poop jokes. Welcome.
Listen on
Substack App
RSS Feed
Appears in episode
Stanley Bogode