Is bad news good news with consumer reviews?

Recently I embarked on a mission to buy a new printer. I was sick and tired of the high cost of ink replacement for my recently purchased inkjet printer and the fact that even though I kept usage to a minimum, I still incurred replacement expense when the ink cartridges appeared to dry up and not perform. Like many folks I went straight to every PC magazine review I could find, and determined that a color laserjet made more sense as the toner didn’t dry up and if I was willing to pay a little more upfront, I’d pay less for operating expense. Once I narrowed down the fact that a color laser was in my future, I then narrowed down features I wanted and for the successful candidates I went to every site that sold or reviewed the models I was interested in and went directly to consumer reviews. There, I focused in on overall positives, but actually sorted to the negative reviews and comments and read every one and paid particular attention as to how they resembled my likely use scenario.

What I was struck by was how everybody simply wanted to share what they experienced, and be heard. I especially focused in on those negative experiences where someone had (or had not) reached out to the manufacturer and what their experience was in getting issues resolved. It was amazing that in those instances where manufacturers weighed in on consumer dissatisfaction, the detail of the issue were well documented, discussed and pro’s and con’s on both sides were played out in public. Even when an issue was not resolved, users appeared to appreciate the manufacturer’s willingness to listen and attempts to resolve the issue.

It reminded me of our business of managing adverse events for manufacturers and our need to do everything we can to be empathetic with consumers that have less than optimal experiences with a client’s product. First, they are reaching out to you in hopes of getting answers or help. Engaging the consumer to understand their experience is everything. It helps them, other consumers, and yes, the manufacturer. Even when it’s something that is critical or uncomfortable to hear, that engagement helps everybody better understand how a product is performing under the best and worst of circumstances. And ultimately, that helps everybody.

Rick brings over 30 years of professional experience to the SafetyCall team. His contributions are broad in the areas of clinical toxicology, pharmacology, poison control, product post-market surveillance, and drug and dietary supplement safety. He has helped to shape national policy relating to product safety in many areas and regulatory jurisdictions including, EPA, FDA, and CPSC regulated products. Rick also enjoys his academic affiliation with both the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy and the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Natural Product Research, which is an FDA Center of Excellence. He enjoys national speaking engagements where he shares his vast knowledge of product stewardship including best practices related to adverse event post-marketing surveillance and regulatory reporting of incident data.

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