Saturday, December 11, 2010

Restrain Your Overreaction to Criticism

We all love to hear praise for our stores and for the products and services we sell. And negative reviews sting.
     If you follow the good advice to track what people are saying about you on the Internet, you’ll come across loads of both the praise and the criticism. Certainly react to the feedback by considering how to improve. But never overreact to the criticism.
  • The conscientious retailer can come to take praise for granted. This gives the criticism an unbalanced importance. Some industry experts say that one reason Howard Johnson’s Restaurants failed in the mid-1970’s is that management lost focus as they repeatedly switched business strategies in response to critical remarks on customer comment cards.
  • In a three-nation study, researchers at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Stanford University, and Korea University found that there is a negative bias in customer reviews of services. Even when the positive balances the negative in the customer’s experience, the customer is more likely to file a negative review. As a result, we can learn of a few criticisms and think this represents the views of a large number of people. Psychologists call it “The Law of Small Numbers.” Worse yet are stories. When the criticism comes in the form of a story, it outbalances an objective reading of consumer attitude survey statistics, for instance, unless we take steps not to overreact.
  • Researchers at University of Colorado-Denver tested the accuracy of an assumption retailers commonly make: “Customers who speak ill of a store they’ve tried shopping in for the first time become less likely to return to the store.” The researchers found this assumption to be wrong. That conclusion might surprise you until you think of it in a different way: Satisfied customers often still include criticism along with any praise. There’s evidence the sprinkling of criticism is intended to make the reviewer come across as more believable.
  • Other research does confirm our assumptions about criticism. For instance, when a store or product has a strong positive image for consumers, criticisms of new offerings are unlikely to infect the existing positive opinions. Researchers at University of Minnesota and Kansas State University found that when a Johnson & Johnson hand lotion was rated low on gentleness, gentleness impressions of the Johnson & Johnson flagship product—baby shampoo—were quite immune to change.
     Learn from criticism, but restrain yourself from overreacting.

Click below for more:
Keep an Eye on Yelp
Reduce Bias in Customer Reviews of Services
Tell Positive Stories About Your Products
Encourage Balanced Customer Reviews

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