You are currently viewing The “respond to negative reviews” fallacy.

The “respond to negative reviews” fallacy.

Bad Review Alerts

This is a feature I’ve seen promoted by almost every reputation marketing company and there are countless blog posts on “How to respond to negative reviews”.

After all, why wouldn’t you want to be alerted of negative reviews and respond to them promptly and in a manner that saves face?

It seems like a no-brainer feature to have (a plus at minimum!) and that’s exactly why I think this destructive feature is a product of the blind leading the blind.

In fact, in the widely studied area of online marketing, which is flooded with data, there are zero studies that link a positive ROI with responding to negative reviews.

Any Response is Worse

Even if it’s done properly and even if you follow the best principles of communication, any response is worse than no response at all.

In fact, any response is directly giving your business a negative ROI and I’ll explain why below.

My proposed approach to negative reviews: just flood it with positive reviews and give them not a single minute of your attention.

Benefits of This Approach

There are two main ones.

First, it doesn’t waste anyone’s time on a negative review.

Look, negative people are drawn to negativity like moths to fire.

Try this out. Look up any reputable business’ Google reviews and click “sort by lowest score”. Unsurprisingly, you’ll see many one-star reviews.

The interesting part is that those low reviews will have more “likes” and engagement than the positive reviews that make up 99.9% of all reviews.

That’s because negative people are actively seeking them out.

Normal people will understand that there’s that one rare slip-up because we’re all human. Or they will understand that negative people exist and that your one-star review was caused by a generally angry person.

I’m sure you’ve looked at a negative review and thought “Wow, that guy is very angry.” And you didn’t have to rely on the business owner’s reply to understand that.

Normal people will see the 4.9 rating and think that it’s a great business and will not focus on the 1 stars.

Negative people won’t even care about how well-worded your explanation is. Nor will they even accept your explanation at all, regardless of how true it is.

But the thing is, you don’t want their business anyway. They will start breaking you apart from the inside.

Plus, no normal person who values their time is reading onto page 3 or 4. So negative reviews don’t affect them and all your thoughtful replies go to waste.

So don’t waste your time or the time of your staff on negative reviews… just flood ’em.

Second, it doesn’t get their negativity into your mind.

Imagine how toxic it would be if you were told to sit down and listen to any and everyone’s complaints and criticisms about you.

That’s exactly the behavior that reputation marketing companies are unknowingly promoting.

It’s definitely unhealthy for anyone and will eventually tear apart the productivity, motivation, and good-will of the business owner.

So, first, don’t bother responding. And second, don’t give it a second of your attention.

Genuine Criticisms

Genuine criticisms can sometimes be found in 3 or 4 star reviews.

By the way, I doubt that you are a 1 or 2 star dentist, so you can see how there’s already a big gap between what is aligned with reality, and therefore has the potential of being constructive, and bad review alerts.

However, genuine criticisms will find other ways of getting to you.

For example, a concerned patient may bring something up during their visit. Or from a trustworthy source like an associate.

If you have good intentions and really want to deliver great service, your brain will be wired to pick out these opportunities all around you.

In this case, you should trust yourself more than the opinions of 3 and 4 star reviews anyway.

Here’s to hoping that as a collective, we start weaning ourselves away from paying any attention to negativity.