On “reviews”

Let me get this out of the way — I don’t think reviews accurately determine how successful a person, a product, a service, or an organization is. They’re mere opinions expressed by individuals lacking the right context and insight related to the reviewee. That’s why a review is different from a testimonial as to the later is a marketing tactic gathered, owned, and managed by the businesses for their products or service offerings.

Anyone can share or post a review, but only verified consumers/clients who are satisfied with a company’s offerings could share a testimonial.

So, if you someone posts an ALL CAPS review about your book on Amazon that reads, “DON’T BUY THIS BUY. JUST 96 PAGES AND TOO EXPENSIVE,” you are better off ignoring the comment than respond to it. The same goes for one, two, or even three-star reviews. Why? We don’t know the person has bought the book or “feels” that the price is way too high for the mere 96 pages in the book. Meaning he clearly doesn’t understand the difference between price and value. Or he’s just fussy about every damn thing in his life? Sure, there may be a few genuine concerns, but you know which ones those are, and you do have the option to address, privately or publicly.

But if a particular reviewer chooses to get personal, you’ve got to think about your brand and act accordingly. Thankfully, most platforms have the policy to deactivate such (ab)users, but some don’t because they are, well, Glassdoor.

If you can, look for a delete option else respond strategically. Contrary to what people believe, especially leaders who keep a tab on Glassdoor (or any) reviews, it is okay to ask questions, correct, and clarify with the reviewer. It’s the most authentic thing to do because every review is an opportunity for a dialog, particularly the negative ones that get a little too personal.

And let’s not forget such mindless reviews are a threat to the employer brand. Most people assume that the positive or 5-star reviews can outweigh the 1,2, or 3-star reviews, but that’s seldom the case. Why? Intelligent buyers (or candidates) want to review the one and 2-star reviews before they go anywhere else. They want to know precisely what people are unhappy about and how we’ve responded if all they see is a bunch of bland and diplomatic responses, their trust and confidence in your company’s employer brand drops significantly.

That said, I’m not encouraging anyone to go rogue on your responses or get back to the reviewers with a vengeance. That’s stupid. All I ask is to be considerate about your company’s employer brand and be authentic about your responses. Besides apologizing and acknowledging, as appropriate, this might mean you will have to clarify what they are referring to or add some context or ask them to get in touch to understand them better.

The key is to be open enough to have a conversation without templates, blandness, or diplomacy (as in using “tact,” you need the skill and common-sense). We don’t have to approach this as crisis communication that needs to be worded carefully or warrants an entire committee to draft a response. Just get-it-done.

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