You know; we know: customer reviews are great. Not only do they give companies invaluable, real-time, accurate feedback about their products (and save marketing departments lots of guesswork), they serve as a well-trusted testimonial system for other potential customers.

The thing is; customers don’t really trust marketing departments. When you want the real scoop on something, you ask your friends. Or, in the case of online reviews, friendly strangers. Customers have no reason to lie to other customers. But lying isn’t what companies need to worry about when it comes to inaccurate customer reviews (if they’re collecting them the right way).

The thing is; customers don't really trust marketing departments. - Highlight to share -

We’ve seen instances of a different issue – when a customer hasn’t read the instructions, or misunderstands how a feature works, and blames the company for its “faulty design.” A customer may declare in a review that their product doesn’t work, when in actuality the problem is easily solvable. Potential customers read this review, avoid your product and, worse, start telling their friends “don’t buy that product. I hear it doesn’t work.”

This is exactly why it is so important for companies to monitor closely their feedback, and yes – correct any misinformation. How they do the correcting can even lead to positive branding opportunities.

How it’s done

First, always thank the customer for their purchase, and for their review. People want nothing more in the world than to know that someone out there is listening. Even if you say nothing else, do this.

But do say something else! Gently inform them (even if they were not gentle with their review) that you believe a bit of confusion may have occurred, and explain the product’s proper function. This is important because now, with the correct knowledge, you’ve given the customer a chance to be genuinely and truly satisfied with their purchase, and with your company. You can turn disappointment into relief, satisfaction, and – most importantly – brand loyalty.

People want nothing more in the world than to know that someone out there is listening. - Highlight to share -

And speaking of brand loyalty, if your company voice and tone guide allows for it, feel free to respond with personality! Particularly if you’re known for it, as mobile company O2 is.

The disgruntled customer complained of lack of internet, when their router was simply not turned on. O2 responded in a cheeky but perfectly polite way, and offered a solution to the customer’s “problem.” O2 received lots of praise from Twitter users for not just solving the customer’s issue, but offering a bit of impromptu entertainment in the process.

Don't take misinformed negative reviews personally. - Highlight to share -

So what’s the moral of the story? Don’t take misinformed negative reviews personally. Use them as opportunities to create satisfied customers, and build brand loyalty while you do it.

The feedback loop