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The Brainy Business | Understanding the Psychology of Why People Buy | Behavioral Economics

Jul 30, 2021

Today we are going to be talking about something that is sort of a fact of life whether we like it or not. If you want to live in the world amongst other people and put your personal or professional brand out there, you need to be prepared for negative reviews.

This episode was inspired by a long-time listener who has become a friend and colleague – Jeff Pool from the Human Behavior Lab at Texas A&M University. Thankfully, it wasn’t inspired by him giving a negative review to The Brainy Business or anything like that. Instead, it was something he suggested a while back could be an interesting episode. It felt like the right time with my book just coming out a couple of months ago now, and the recent behavioral economics analysis of Amazon episode where I talked about the power of social proof and how they popularized reviews. 

I also asked the BE Thoughtful Revolution for some insights on what they might like to know or what comes to mind when thinking about negative reviews while creating the content for today’s episode. The consensus was based on how to respond to them: Should it be done right away or delayed? Publicly or privately? What tone to use? And more. 

Show Notes:

  • [00:07] Today’s episode is dedicated to negative reviews.
  • [00:45] If you want to live in the world amongst other people and put your personal or professional brand out there, you need to be prepared for negative reviews.
  • [03:42] Melina shares an email from her friend Kurt Nelson of the Behavioral Grooves podcast hoping I’d get 4.7 stars on my book.
  • [05:11] It is important to accept that negative reviews are coming and just wrap your head around that.
  • [07:54] Why do we feel these so much more and why do they stick with us differently? Why is their weight heavier than positive reviews?
  • [08:23] The reason we even look at or have influence from reviews and testimonials and star ratings (also known as social proof) is because of our natural tendency to herd.
  • [10:21] Negative reviews are triggering our herding instincts and make the subconscious get scared of what could happen if we get too many more of those in the future.
  • [11:43] Reading or otherwise looking at negative reviews makes us focus on them more than the positive ones because of those herding instincts.
  • [13:34] We have a perception about ourselves and the type of person we are: honest, ethical, good at what we do. When we are confronted with information that threatens that perspective our brains really don’t like it, we want to resolve that cognitive dissonance.
  • [15:12] Even though you don’t like it, there is probably some kernel of truth in the negative thing someone had to say about you or your brand. What if you looked for the learning opportunity in a negative review?
  • [17:00] Don’t ostrich – It may be tempting to avoid reading the reviews because they can be painful, but not knowing what people are saying doesn’t make it so they don’t feel that way (and aren’t sharing with others).
  • [18:48] In general, yes, you should respond to all the comments you get, both good and bad. And, tempting as it may be, don’t delete negative comments. (If they are profane or blatant lies it could be an exception, but in general, this is not a good practice.)
  • [20:12] People aren’t often expecting any response, let alone a kind and open-minded one. You will be surprised at how many people you can bring back around to your side.
  • [23:12] It is best to respond to the person wherever they posted to begin with.
  • [24:30] You want and need that public acknowledgment for all the future people who see the comment.
  • [27:39] Treating this person as a human who deserves kindness triggered some reciprocity and encouraged them to act in kind and, as far as I know, keep listening and following me.
  • [28:29] Not everyone is your customer and that is ok! There are so many people out there who you can or will resonate with; focus on them.
  • [30:54] It is really important to know what you are about, who you are for, and why you do the things you do before you are confronted with a negative review that addresses one of those things.
  • [33:39] The lesson is to know your customer and identify what matters to your brand when you are in a cold state, so you can know what to take to heart and change, and what can be heard and let go of without having to constantly address your strategy.
  • [34:08] There are some times where it makes sense to say you are sorry, of course, but in general, you don’t need to (and actually shouldn’t).
  • [35:29] You can absolutely acknowledge their feelings, but you don’t have to say “sorry” to do that.
  • [37:30] When you identify what matters to you and your company in that cold state, it is also important to know about your brand voice.
  • [38:56] For most brands, it is best to be respectful and kind in your correspondence with customers and others in public and in private.
  • [40:05] Do what you can to reframe your perception to see the opportunity in a negative review.
  • [40:18] Hating negative reviews is natural because of our herding instincts, focusing illusion, fundamental attribution error, and cognitive dissonance, but thankfully understanding that can help you feel better about addressing them, overcoming your instincts that might not be the best initial response, and letting you give the reviewer the benefit of the doubt when crafting responses.
  • [41:08] Don’t jump to apologizing. More often than not it will not work well.
  • [41:21] Melina shares her closing thoughts. 
  • [41:23] The Brainy Business was nominated for the best market research podcast of 2021. Vote for The Brainy Business here by August 31!

Thanks for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Android. If you like what you heard, please leave a review on iTunes and share what you liked about the show. 

I hope you love everything recommended via The Brainy Business! Everything was independently reviewed and selected by me, Melina Palmer. So you know, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. That means if you decide to shop from the links on this page (via Amazon or others), The Brainy Business may collect a share of sales or other compensation.

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