After posting up on Facebook about the Kickstarter happening for Rawfully Organic’s Juice project, I had a friend leave the following comment:

I’d be interested to hear more about this. Does she do anything for the community that’s volunteer based? There are already a lot of options for cold pressed juices. I just had some delicious ones at Green Seed Vegan today. I was thinking about the co-op and then I found out the prices, and read some negative yelp reviews. I know you’re awesome, so if you’re supporting this maybe I just got a negative first impression, which was: fad health stuff for rich people. Tell me more!

I talk about the Juicing Project and the Co-op in detail in another blog post HERE.

In this post I want to talk about online reviews.

Any organization that serves as many people that Rawfully Organic serves, and only has 9 reviews on Yelp–even if all 9 are ‘bad” is doing just fine. Trust me. The problem here is with the marketing department, not the organization. Allow me to explain:

I do not know who is heading up RO’s marketing. They do a great job with the newsletters, emails, and videos. They do an OK job with the Facebook and other Social Media endeavors (like YouTube)–but only OK. It is clear to me that they simply do not have the resources or man power to address this stuff adequately. Tons of questions go unanswered and that is OK. When you have as large a following as this organization does, you simply cannot answer everything. Plus, most of these questions can be answered with a little investigation on the rather extensive website. Or, that failing, with a Google search.

Now when you have a full blown marketing budget and marketing team, you know that asking for good reviews from your happy customers is extremely important. Why? Because the majority of people that ever bother to leave reviews are going to the people that had bad experiences. The angry, upset, unhappy people. THAT is when most people get fired up enough to actually go leave a review for something. People like to complain. They forget to praise.

I know there are a few exceptions out there–I am one of them–I intentionally choose to write AWESOME reviews and always force myself to take a few days to cool off before I write anything negative about someone’s business. After all, we can all have a bad day, and heaven knows I can have a bitchy day where I literally go through life just scraping everyone the wrong way and bringing all kinds of shit down on my self. But that’s on ME and I know that.

Having dealt with a few online reputation management clients, this is nothing new. People pay thousands to cultivate their online reputation in both ethical and UNethical ways. The best way to do this is to ask your people that love you and support you and keep coming back for more to leave reviews.

I have never once been asked in an email or otherwise for anything from the Co-op before this Kickstarter. Not even volunteer help. And I have been on their mailing list for 3 years. They just don’t have the people, or the marketing know-how or the resources to address this kind of thing.

Something I saw repeated in a few of the “bad reviews” really stuck out. A few people said that Kristina, the “head chick” was not nearly as warm or friendly as she is in her videos. They went so far as to call her snobby and say that she ignored them.

OK. I wasn’t there, I don’t know if she ignored people or not. I DO know, as a participating member and now regular volunteer, how the pick ups work. They are a bit on the stressful side for those of us trying to make it all happen for you, the average member just trying to grab your box and go. I have experienced the whole “ignored by Kristina” thing early on when I first started picking up a share if you want to call it that–she was not any more rude or unfriendly than a typical grocery store manager. She didn’t know me from Adam, and I didn’t know her. There were 200 other people she dealt with before and after me and she gave me a polite smile and directed me to a volunteer who could answer my questions. One time it was immediate and easy, another time it took a little more patience on my part while I waited for my chance to break in to the conversation. But here’s the thing: I didn’t feel miffed because I didn’t EXPECT her to give me any personal attention or be overly friendly with me, a perfect stranger, while there were dozens of people clamoring for her attention. DUH!

Bottom line: Kristina is exactly like her persona in the videos–in fact–that is not a persona. That is just her. Being herself. And sharing her passion. Period. Take her out of the hectic share pick-up equation and she is a complete and utter delight. She is warm and friendly and just doing her best with what she has.

There is currently only one other paid employee available to answer questions at the pickups. (And for the record this person is a bit more matter of fact and brusque with her dealings with people–it’s a personality thing. Deal.)  Both Kristina and this other person try to handle a line of “check outs” to get people done and moved on as quickly as possible. Everyone else is a volunteer.  Sometimes there is a competent volunteer available to answer questions or run the iPad and sometimes there isn’t. It’s not a perfect system. It’s not  the Whole Foods shopping experience. And it’s not that bad. My advice to the people that felt ignored is to take into consideration that Kristina is ONE person. She talks to HUNDREDS of people at these pick ups. If she was otherwise engaged in conversation  or maybe taking a break for five minutes (how dare she!?) then get over yourself! You are not the center of the freaking universe. All these other people have managed to figure it out or get an answer, all these other people come back week after week, happy and willing to make the best of it–maybe the problem is with you. I’m just saying.

</>rant<>

The takeaway here is this: If there are dozens of bad reviews of a business and very few good ones, then yes, proceed with caution. If there are only 9 total reviews and a majority of them are bad, this might be a marketing and PR fail, because angry, unhappy people, are vocal people. And for the love of all that is holy people, try to leave a good review for the businesses that serve you well! Make it a rule–you leave three good ones for every bad one you write! The kind of energy you are putting out in to the world will come back to you ten fold.

That whole “Do unto others” thing was the real deal, whether you are tight with The JC or rocking out with  my man Buddha or Allah or simply flowing with the cosmic unnamed energy. Keep it in mind the next time you get all snippy and make sure it was warranted, and that you weren’t just having a bad day.

Bad reviews can be helpful and used to make something better. And several of the reviews for this example were from a few years ago and talk about issues that have been addressed in a major way. Hopefully a few RO members will get motivated and mobilize on Yelp to help balance out the issue. Until then, grains of salt…

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3 Responses to Online Reviews and Why They Suck

  1. […] Online Reviews and Why They Suck Rawfully Organic Co-Op By Cortney On June 18, 2013 · Add Comment So after posting up on […]

  2. KarenD says:

    I live in the land of Yelp where EVERYTHING is cited there and thankfully people do leave positive reviews, too. I agree that usually the ones more inclined to post a review are the ones with a bad experience, and that can certainly taint the perception of the business. You’re right, who knows WHO was having the bad day that day? The problem I have with Yelp here is that almost everything has 3-4 stars, and it seems to be a 50-50 split on positive-negative. That doesn’t help me decide at all! So, I go places and just decide for myself. ;-)

    • Cortney says:

      Yes! Also, I did figure out what gives–see, there are actually “filtered” comments for this biz–9 of them, including mine–all 5 star. (except mine, which I intentionally put as 4 star to avoid this) Turns out if you do not review much on Yelp, then your reviews are more likely to get filtered as possible “fake” reviews, and there is no way around that. In fact, as I understand it, even if I go and review 100 more places, previously filtered reviews may never show through. Sadly, 5 star and 4 star reviews are much more likely to get filtered than 1 stars. Dumb.

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