Guest Blogger Eric Krell: If Customer Reviews Are a Marketing Tool, Is It OK to Edit Them?

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As a reporter, writer, and synthesizer of insights (a more accurate title these days), I've long wrestled with the question of whether I should clean up my source's quotes.

As a reporter, writer, and synthesizer of insights (a more accurate title these days), I've long wrestled with the question of whether I should clean up my source's quotes. If a CMO describes "averse" economic conditions when she clearly means "adverse," can I change her quote for her benefit (as well as the benefit of the reader)?

Zappos kicked a similar question into the realm of marketing ethics, according to this nifty article on Slate, "Awsum Shoes!," that asks whether it's ethical to fix errors in customers' reviews.

Zappos.com corrects grammar and spelling errors within its product and service reviews, Slate's Michael Agger reports. Interestingly, Zappos uses Amazon's Mechanical Turk, the tool that assigns tasks to any computer user for a very small fee. In essence, Zappos.com is crowd-sourcing a portion of its marketing effort.

And this effort qualifies as a marketing activity: An NYU business professor's research indicates that well-written reviews sell more products than poorly written reviews (even when it comes to negative reviews).

"While the ethics of comment refinement are still ill-defined, the importance of consumer reviews is unassailable," writes Agger in the articl -- I mean, "article" -- which contains a wealth of information and links about online reviews. I highly recommend reading it, and bless it with five stars.

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About the Author: Journalist Eric Krell is a frequent contributor to 1to1 Magazine and Customer Strategist.

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