Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wedding Vendor Reviews - The Good - The Bad- The Ugly

We’ve all seen the various review sites around the wedding world.  You have the major wedding advertising network that has all kinds of reviews, the Yelp’s, the Google Places, the Yahoo’s, among a bunch of other places that a pleased bride (or a disgruntled bride or your competitor) can place a review of your business on.  Heck even my sites have a spot for reviews. 

One would wonder if they are really worth having or really worth the hassle of having.   In my trolling around the internet on the various wedding boards (I have no life), I get to see all of the good, bad, and ugly on this subject.  I see wedding vendors complaining because they got a bad review from a disgruntled bride (or a competitor) and I see the brides complaining because a bad review they submitted was taken down.   I am seeing both sides of the story and I am sympathetic to both sides.

The reviews are nothing more than a decipher episode..   A bride has to decipher, what reviews are real and what reviews are bullshit.  She doesn’t really know the author and can only take the reviews at face value.  As the vendor being reviewed (as we never do anything wrong), we need to decipher who our competition is that put up this crap review or what we did to what bride to piss them off.   As a third party, it is tough to decipher just who is right and who is wrong in a dispute, because plain and simple…we weren’t there.   So the third party (review site) now becomes judge and jury on a matter they really know nothing about and have to make a decision based on facts presented.   Now I am a site owner, I have someone paying me to advertise on my site, and which way am I going to go? 

Things could be a whole lot less complicated if we all put on our rose colored glasses and followed a few simple rules. 
  1. If you don’t have anything good to say about someone, don’t say it.
  2. If you are a wedding professional, remember that the customer is ALWAYS right.
  3. None of my competitors would ever put up a false bad review on me, so I am not going to do it to them either. 
  4. Don't be a good wedding professional, be a GREAT wedding professional and no one will have to put up a bad review on you. 
OK…enough of living in fantasy land because we all know that these ideas may be next to impossible. 

I have also seen some complaints from wedding vendors that said one particular wedding website advertiser agreed that they can bury the bad review or make it disappear in exchange for a $7000 premium listing?   I have yet to confirm this incident or this practice, but if someone is doing this, then it is just plain wrong.  

So you understand, as a wedding advertising site owner, we open ourselves up to a whole can of worms even posting anything negative about our paying advertisers.  There is absolutely nothing good that can come out of it, NOT ONE SINGLE THING.  We open ourselves up to a loss of customers, a loss of credibility, possible court actions, and any number of different things. 

(and now a word from our sponsors)
On the record, I approve each and every review for each and every site before it is posted to the site.  I do this only because I did catch one person (a vendor) putting bad reviews and ratings in for other vendors (I keep track of ip addresses).  Our policy is that negative reviews are always forwarded to the vendor so they are aware of an issue.  Negative reviews are not posted.  After more than one negative review, I personally call the vendor and we would come to an agreement that maybe our site is not the best place for them to advertise their business.
(end of commercial)

One thing I can say, is that on all of our sites, we have had to deal with negative reviews minimally.   The worst we ever had was the phony-balony (yes I know I spelled that wrong) circumstance I spoke of earlier.  Other than eliminate the reviews entirely, maybe we should change the name from Reviews, to Raves or Positive Reviews.  Perhaps this will deter anyone from posting the negative review and gives us the license to only allow positive reviews.  I doubt it, but it is always a thought.   

I may be out of the loop, but one practice I just recently heard of was a vendor offering a discount to a bride, if she went to the one wedding advertising site and placed a good review on them.  I cannot help but laugh at this practice.  It has got to be on the top ten list of dumb things.  Begging brides to put up a good review on wedding vendors has now given way to bribing brides to put up a review???  You have got to be kidding me!!   I’m sorry but if you are doing this, it is not a good business practice; it is desperation in my book.  You are not only paying to advertise on that site, now you are paying to put content on that site.  I hope that payment is in your advertising budget.  And to put some icing on the cake, you are advertising the same people you pay and expect to be advertising you, by sending your customers to their site to read your reviews.  

Whether we like it or not, more and more brides are eventually going to become very skeptical of online reviews.  You may as well have your reviews on your site so you can at least control what is put up there.  Call it your mailbag, or satisfied customers, or something positive.  If you have not already, it might be time now to begin collecting the real thank you notes that you get from brides for your display of reviews.   It might also be a great idea of asking a bride or two if you can share their contact information with future brides for a reference on your service.  I've recently seen some video testimonials.  I don't know who's idea that was, but whoever thought of this, you are a genius.  These video testimonials can be put onto your website and could possibly be more credible that written reviews (hmmmmmm that even gives me an idea).  When the online review skepticism becomes an issue, you will at least be prepared and have something else in your back pocket.   

Until next time,

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