- Tue, November 01 2011
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
Roger Dooley of Neuromarketing blog has a great post on the contagious nature of complaints. Negative impressions have a way of spreading, says Roger, even when they aren’t valid.
He tells this story of an experiment by Martin Lindstrom, author of Brandwashed:
We set up a table in the middle of the restaurant, and four actors were hired to pretend to be friends sharing the conviviality of a meal. They all ordered the soup, since it was the only starter on the menu, thus allowing an element of control. After breaking some bread and taking his first mouthful, one of the actors called for the waiter and proceeded to deliver a three-minute rant about the scalding temperature of the soup. As the soup continued to be served to the other tables, the complaints began rolling in. By the end of the dinner, 26% of the guests had made similar complaints. Each bowl had come from the same pot, so either they had extremely sensitive tongues or they had all been influenced by the initial complaint.
Negativity spreads fast. Take the “nocebo” effect as another example from Roger—subjects given placebo pills with no side effects will report nausea if they’re told they might have that side effect.
In other words, if people expect something to be bad, they will experience it as bad.
As Roger says, watch out for contagious negativity: “Fix the problem. Apologize. Anything you can do to mute the complaining quickly will prevent contagious dissatisfaction from spreading.” (I can wait till Roger’s book comes out.)
That’s good advice. React swiftly and graciously to criticism on social media, in your office and around town.