“Revenge Reviews” Are Rising, Up by 72 Percent
In today’s digital age, social media has empowered consumers with greater access to information and a louder voice than ever before. But what happens when that voice is used as a weapon for revenge? According to MarketWatch and The Wall Street Journal, “revenge reviews” are up 72% since the pandemic. From Yelp To Instagram, customers are turning to social media as a tools for seeking out revenue for their personal vendettas against businesses. Get ready to dive into the dark waters of revenge reviews and their impact on business owners.
What are “Revenge Reviews”
A revenge review is defined as a negative review that is written with the sole purpose of punishing the business for some perceived slight. These reviews are often over-the-top and exaggerated, and can do serious damage to a business’s online reputation. Today, customers have more power than ever before to publicly shame businesses they’re unhappy with, and they are turning to social media platforms to voice their opinions.
While revenge reviews have always been a problem for businesses, they have become more prevalent during and post-pandemic as people struggle to deal with the financial and emotional stress of the economy. In addition, many businesses have had to make difficult decisions during the pandemic that have left disgruntled customers who are angry about the product or service changes, whether it be customer service, quality or delivery time.
If you are a business who has been the victim of a revenge review, here are steps you can take to mitigate the damage. First, try reaching out to the customer directly to see if there’s anything you can do to resolve their issue as prompt as possible. It’s important to be timely with your response, as most revenue reviews are not posted on one social media channel, often the angry customer will post on several channels. If you can get to the customer as soon as they start to voice their anger, you have a better change of mitigating the damage to your business. If that doesn’t work or you can’t find their contact information, you can respond publicly to the review in a professional and helpful manner; and request the customer email your company to come to resolve the matter. In the case if the individual is simply leaving false or defamatory claims, you may want to file a legal claim.
How Social Media has become a hub to leave “Revenge Reviews”
In recent years, social media platforms like Facebook, Yelp and Twitter have become increasingly popular hubs for customers to leave “revenge reviews” – negative reviews that are written in response to a perceived bad experience with a business. While it’s understandable that some customers may feel the need to vent their frustrations online, the impact of these revenge reviews can be significant and far-reaching.
Most recently, customers have been moving away from leaving written reviews and are now uping the reputable damage by creating video content reviews that showcase the product, or service and provide more detail into the allegationsagaiost the business. Their has been a growing trend on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, with a greater likelihood of the content being shared and amplified on the channels.
For businesses, revenge reviews can lead to a decreased revenues, and new potential customers can be turned off by the negative reviews. In addition, businesses may also face repetitional damage if the revenge reviews are widely shared on social media, which is becoming the intention behind customer reviews these days with targeted #hashtags and #tags mentioning the business.
For customers, meanwhile, writing or recording a revenge review can often be an cathartic experience for the angry patron– but one that may not always result in the desired outcome. In some cases, businesses may use revenge reviews as an opportunity to offer a discount or other form of compensation on future products or services; in other cases, the customer may simply never receive a resolution to their issue.
For example, if a customer ordered ten bridesmaid dresses and they were all shipped last minute to the wrong address due to a technical error. The boutique or retailer may provide a refund, and a sincere apology. The customer or bride in this case may still feel angry, and want to post a “revenge review,” telling other future brides to beware of ordering from the boutique or retailer. There is little a business may feel they can do in this case, and it’s often the issue with revenge reviews, once they are out there, some may have no resolution a business can provide.
The bottom line is that social media has made it easier than ever for customers to voice their displeasure with a business – as a business it’s important now than ever to be proactive than reactive. And while some businesses may be able to weather the storm of a few bad reviews, others may not be so lucky.
Tips for managing and responding to ‘Revenge Reviews’
When it comes to negative feedback from customers, businesses need to tread carefully. On one hand, you don’t want to ignore customer complaints and delete them, as that will only make the situation worse. For example if you delete the review from your website, it may lead the customer to go to social media to amplify their issues with your company even louder. And if enough customers aresilenced in this way, it could have a chilling effect on honest feedback and critical dialogue about businesses – which ultimately hurts everyone.
So what’s the best way to handle negative feedback from customers?
Don’t ignore it. As mentioned above, ignoring customer complaints will only make the situation worse. You need to acknowledge the complaint and address it head-on.
Don’t take it personally. It’s important to remember that when a customer is giving you negative feedback, they’re not necessarily attacking you personally. They’re just expressing their dissatisfaction with your product or service. Try to keep that in mind and stay calm when responding to their complaint.
Apologize if necessary. If you’ve made a mistake, admit it and apologize for it. This will go a long way in diffusing the situation and making the customer feel heard and valued.
Offer a solution. Once you’ve acknowledged the problem, try to offer a solution that will satisfy the customer’s needs. If you can’t do that, at least offer some sort of compensation (e.g., a discount on their next purchase).
Thank them for their feedback . . . even if it’s negative . It might be difficult to do, but thanking the customer may help them feel seen and heard, and end future reviews on additional social media platforms.
I have 15 years of experience in the retail industry including expertise in marketing, operations, merchandising, buying, shopping and technology. I am a speaker, consultant and former senior managing director of The School of Retailing, University of Alberta. My education includes a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from The University of Alberta in Marketing, Certificate in Real Estate and a Diploma in Fashion Merchandising and Buying from LasSalle College, a Canadian private school founded in 1959 by fashion designer Jean-Paul Morin.