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Discuss the Negatives

It’s only natural for a company to want to discuss every positive aspect of their service, product, or themselves, but when do you get to see them talk about the negative aspects?

Yesterday Darren Rowse talked about what he saw as the postives for the new 9rules Network. It’s always great to see others discussing the positives about your company, but being a skeptic, I knew that there would be more than a couple of people reading that entry wondering what the negatives were.

I thought about what the negatives would be for joining the network way before I presented the idea to Mike and Matthew, so I already had an idea. Instead of keeping them to myself I wrote about them before anyone else could. From a company perspective is this a good thing to do? I would like to think so because it allows your customers see that you are honest, but more importantly it shows that you have an understanding of your company’s shortcomings.

Too many companies think they are doing everything right and fail to see what may be holding them back from gaining more marketshare. Having an understanding of what isn’t right with your company goes a long way to showing what you can improve upon, or at the very least you can make the negatives seem minute in comparison to what is wonderful about your company.

Probably the biggest plus when discussing the negatives before anyone else can, is that you now control the conversation on your site. If someone else starts to discuss the negatives of your company, word can spread fast and instead of trying to manage a conversation on one site, you are left managing 10 or 100 different conversations.

No company is perfect and your customers understand that. Admitting your faults makes you more human and that goes a long way in building the trust between your company and your customers.

About Paul Scrivens


  1. I couldn’t agree more with you on this. My main interest is within the computer/console gaming industry (or IEI, Interactive Entertainment Industry) and I’m just in the initial stages of setting up a website that will discuss issues of this exact nature.

    For example, one of the biggest problems I am still seeing within the industry is that companies are still not admitting when their gaming products are flawed (usually due to a critical bug) which is usually discovered when their games get released to the public. Normally what happens is that gamers buy the game, try it out, discover the problem, and post about it within the game’s forums. They then sit and wait to see what the company’s response will be.

    What the company usually fails to realize in this situation is that most gamers aren’t doing this to tell other gamers not to buy the game because it’s flawed and “sucks” (which is done by a small minority). They are relaying this information because they usually love the game and hope the company quickly addresses the problem, so that they can continue to enjoy the game.

    The company, however, instead of publicly recognizing the problem posted by their customers and immediately indicating that they will be working on a fix for the problem, usually instead ignore the problem completely (at least publicly, while they start working on a solution in the background). As any gamer knows in this situation, this only adds flames to the fire and takes the situation from being manageable to being a PR nightmare.

    Put yourself in the shoes of the gamer. They have waited years for this game and have followed it devotedly, giving their loyalty, attention and focus to the company. In one fell swoop, by ignoring these customers, they have destroyed in days (or even a second) what took years to build.

    So what’s the better approach? As you said, admit the problem and tell your customers that you are working on it immediately. Often times this is all that is needed. I’ve read tons of forum posts when issues arise like this and most of the time, this is all that the gamers want. They want the problem to be publicly recognized in a prominent visible place on the company’s website (which in effect means that their voices have been heard) and they want to be told that the problem is being addressed immediately. That’s it. Admit there is a problem.

    I often find it funny how company’s think that ignoring the problem is a better solution since it won’t be picked up by the larger media. Stop and think about this for a second. Who is more important to you, your customers or the media? Sure you may hold off the media from knowing of the game’s problems for a short while but in doing so you are immediately jeopardizing your relationship with your customers.

    Companies today who just focus only on their media appearance, instead of their customers, are dinosaurs from the dot com era who only care about how their stocks are doing versus how their relationship with their customers is doing. There is no separating the two today. Everything is connected. By ruining your relationship with your customers, you are ruining your stocks. All you have to do is look at the fiascos like Enron and the like to see that the voices of the people will eventually be heard whether you like it or not. Better to listen to them and respond back to them while the relationship still exists because once they’re gone, you’ll have to move mountains to try to get them back (assuming your company still exists that is).

  2. This is so true. It is a proactive approach to getting a more complete picture of the company. But tell me something, how many people really open up and bring the cons up for the whole world to see and talk about?

    It’s an uphill task but a purely noble step to gaining the whole image in its true entirety…i hope the new generation gets influenced by these radical thoughts and adopts this attitude of bringing out the negatives in the open for all to accept!


    Armand Rousso


  1. General Matters – Retail sector strategy, Innovation, A good CEO, GE podcasting

    Discuss the negatives in a venture – businesslogs
    General Electric uses podcasting for results announcement – trevorcook
    Innovation & Start-ups, Part 1- thenewnormal
    New retail sector strategy –
    Quantifying what makes a good CEO -…

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