How to kill your Customer Experience and ruin your brand

As someone who is passionate about Customer Experience (CX), I spend a lot of my time gathering feedback, listening to customers, understanding their pain-points and prototyping solutions.

To create a really amazing experience, you need to listen to your customers.

Improving your customers’ experience is the best marketing strategy you can have. It benefits everyone. Your customers will be happy, and they will tell more people (for free) about your product or service. Your business will prosper.

This is exactly what the Net Promoter System (NPS)™ is all about — measuring how many customers will promote your brand for free.

Using reviews to get more customers

The customers who truly love you will promote your brand for free using review sites or social media.

Typically there’s no need to incentivise them — you just need to ask!

“Hey, thanks for buying our product, would you mind leaving a review?”

It’s easy.

Using reviews to conduct deceptive marketing

This week, I was shocked to learn about the marketing strategy of one of Australia’s leading medical appointment booking platforms — Health Engine.

HealthEngine was sued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for allegedly manipulating reviews of General Practitioners (GPs) and selling patient details.

An extract from the court filing:

This claim concerns HealthEngine’s conduct in manipulating the feedback it received from Patients who had attended a consultation at a Health Practice which they had booked through HealthEngine’s website at or mobile phone app.

From 1 March 2015, HealthEngine sent a follow-up survey to Patients who attended a consultation with a Health Practice that had been booked through the OBS on the Platforms.

The survey included a question inviting Patients to provide feedback about their experience with the Health Practice (for example, “Do you have any general feedback or comments about the practice you visited?”).

The survey also included a Ratings Question designed to ascertain whether the Patient would recommend the Health Practice to others (for example, “Would you recommend others to this practice?”with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer available).

Throughout the Review and Ratings Conduct Period, HealthEngine received approximately 128,000 responses to the survey (the Patient Reviews). HealthEngine selectively published approximately 50,000 of those Patient Reviews on the Platforms under the heading “Reviews”.

Of course, it’s common for businesses to collect testimonials which are a powerful way to promote your brand.

But Health Engine allegedly went one step too far.

In determining which Patient Reviews it would publish, HealthEngine implemented, relevantly, two practices: a practice of not publishing any negative Patient Reviews it received in relation to services provided by Health Practices; and a practice of editing some Patient Reviews before they were published to remove negative comments and/or suggestions for improvement, or to embellish them so that they appeared more positive.

In implementing these two practices, HealthEngine immediately disregarded the approximately 17,000 Patient Reviews from Patients who answered ‘no’ to the Ratings Question and edited approximately 3,000 Patient Reviews before they were published.

According to the documents, they EDITED approximately 3,000 reviews!

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Not only does this harm the Australian tech startup community, but it also destroys the good work that Customer Experience experts work so hard to build — we need customers to give us honest, genuine feedback. And lots of it!

Behaviour by organisations like this only casts doubt in the minds of consumers whether anyone actually cares about their feedback.

According to news sites, the matter will resume in court on 1 July 2020.

Bad reviews are actually good

In my experience bad reviews are actually good — if you respond publicly.

Everyone knows that no business is perfect, so customers expect to see bad reviews. Bad reviews are excellent because you actually get to find out what is wrong and fix it.

How many times have you left a restaurant vowing to never return?

The restaurant owner has no idea why you didn’t come back. 
Was it the food, was it the price, was it noisy, was the setting comfortable, etc.

Bad feedback is good feedback.

The best way to manage bad reviews is to publicly acknowledge those upset customers, and show genuine interest in resolving the issues. It works every time. In fact, some studies have shown that by acknowledging customers publicly, they are up to 36% more likely to remove their negative review.

Honesty works.

Of course, most of us are good people

But relying on survey feedback is not enough.

Calling or meeting your customers to understand why they do the things they do will help you uncover what their pain-points are.

More information

Read the filing on the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission site.

NPS is a registered trademark, and Net Promoter Score and Net Promoter System are service marks, of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc. and Fred Reichheld.

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