What to learn from negative W-O-M

September 28, 2020

As the old saying goes, there is no such thing as bad press. While we at Doctor Genius like to think of ourselves as a team of forward-thinking individuals, we tend to agree. It is true that negative word-of-mouth marketing can have a damaging effect on customers’ perceptions of a brand and, therefore, the brand’s profits, but the truth is that negative W-O-M is what you make of it. If you do nothing about poor reviews or worse, try to hide from them, they will continue to haunt you. However, if you address them head-on and use them as learning mistakes, you can not only recover but can become better than you were before.

Negative W-O-M indicates loyalty

Back in 2011, LoyaltyOne, a Cincinnati-based company that provides loyalty marketing services to enterprises, announced a few changes to its AIRMILES Reward Program. Among the changes was one that affected redemption requirements, which outraged many customers. While the brand fully expected some pushback, it was surprised by who was doing the pushback and why.

According to the company’s reports, the most verbal (read: outraged) customers were those who the brand perceived to be their most valuable. These individuals were, on average, 70% more engaged with the rewards program than those who remained silent. The company realized that the negative comments stemmed from customers’ emotional connection to the brand that, prior to the program changes, was a positive one.

How to use negative W-O-M to your advantage

Regardless of who is posting negative comments about your practice, you can learn from LoyaltyOne’s response to the 2011 situation. In addition to monitoring customers’ responses throughout the entire commentary period, the brand also publicly clarified any inaccuracies and responded to specific questions. Its participation in the conversation offset the bad experience with a new, positive one. It also reinforced the brand’s core values that attracted the most engaged members in the first place. The overall result was that approximately one-third of outraged commenters ended up redeeming their points afterward.

#1800Flowers is another major company from which you can learn, but unlike with LoyaltyOne, its experience teaches you what not to do. On February 14th, 2015, many 1-800-Flowers customers received wilted flower arrangements and half-crushed chocolates. Though the company has a long-standing reputation for delivering outstanding products, this single bad experience stuck with customers for months. Though it did issue a public statement apologizing for the incident, Spiegel Research Center suggests three other steps it should have taken — and that you should consider if you fall victim to negative online marketing:

  1. Create an opportunity for NWOM posters to re-experience your brand. Do not just issue a refund or apology. Provide the product or service again, but for free.
  2. Reach out to NWOM posters individually. So that those directly affected by your actions know that your apology is sincere and that you genuinely care about their opinions, reach out to them individually. Show that you are willing to listen, learn, and change.
  3. Use negative W-O-M as an opportunity to participate in customer discussions and show followers that you take any complaints about your brand seriously.

Take control of your online reputation

As a leader in the online marketing space, Doctor Genius has the experience and know-how to help you overcome negative word-of-mouth through reputation management and a robust content strategy. Take advantage of the learning opportunity NWOM creates. Call our team today at 1-877-477-2311 to discuss personalized strategies.

Doctor Genius, located at 2 S Pointe Dr #200, Lake Forest, CA 92630, provides a range of services for practice success. We seek to meet our clients’ needs by providing a variety of marketing, SEO, practice optimization tools, and coaching to transform the healthcare experience. Though we work to provide the most accurate information, the content found on this website is solely intended for entertainment purposes. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is entirely correct. You may not use the information on this site to cure, prevent, or diagnose a perceived medical issue. If you have healthcare-related needs, please speak directly to a healthcare professional. Never self-perform medical treatments discussed on this website. All images displayed are also for entertainment purposes only, and personal experiences may differ. Please note that the business tactics mentioned on this site might not be applicable to your industry or practice.