EA Battlefront 2 Scandal
When it comes to outperforming competitors, a company’s reputation can mean as much as the products or services they’re selling. When a brand gets it right, their strong reputation often leads to customer loyalty which in turn leads to higher lifetime value and future purchase consideration. One only has to look at the recent EA Battlefront 2 scandal to see what happens when reputation swings the other way. For those who aren’t avid gamers or Reddit enthusiasts, the short version is that EA required customers to pay substantial amounts for a significant portion of the content in the new Star Wars video game in addition to the $60 price tag already attached to the game. EA’s response to one customer made it to Reddit and quickly became the least popular Reddit post of all time, earning 683,000 down votes with the second-worst post of all time coming in at only 24,333.
So what became of the EA debacle? After a solid week of jokes, memes, and general EA disparagement, droves of fans began to cancel their pre-orders in protest and many more who were planning to buy the game are now electing not to. While the pay-to-win game mechanics are at the heart of the debacle, it seems to be EA’s response to the situation that garnered the most backlash, turning EA into the pariah of the internet for more than a week now. This particular meltdown falls more in the realm of PR than anything else, but similar situations happen every day across the internet in the form of star-rated customer reviews.
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Customer Opinion and Reviews
Customer reviews are on the rise and are being trusted more than ever. With the pervasiveness of sponsored content and paid influencers on social media, it can be difficult to find unbiased reviews on the internet. That’s why people often trust one another’s unpaid opinions more than a company’s direct statements when assessing which company or brand to buy. While companies can’t make customers speak highly of them, they do have control over how they monitor and respond to reviews through a practice known as Reputation Management.
One aspect of Reputation Management aims to control a brand’s perception online by aggregating reviews earned on sites such as Yelp, Google, or Trip Advisor (just to name a few) and appropriately responding to them. We use specialized tools to pull all the reviews a client receives in one platform, so we can measure customer sentiment and respond to reviews. By understanding how a client’s brand is perceived through reporting dashboards, word clouds, and helpful graphics, we can measure how different marketing activities we’re activating are influencing how customers perceive our client’s brand and how that perception is changing over time.
Response Carries the Weight
More importantly, we’re able to reach out to individuals who had a negative experience and gain more insight into why they provided the review that they did. By providing a genuine human response that’s specific to the content of each review, we’re able to help disgruntled customers feel heard and offer solutions for the future. In the event we’re not able to directly help a customer, we can inform the client about what needs to change to improve reviews in the future. For example, one of our hospitality clients we provide Reputation Management services for was consistently receiving negative reviews regarding certain amenities customers expected but never received. We relayed this information to the client who can now choose to offer those amenities to their customers, helping to increase their average star rating on Google and Yelp in the future.
While not every response carries the weight of EA’s recent mishap, average review scores can be crucial to a company’s success. Anyone who has used Yelp to look for restaurant choices knows how detrimental even a 3-star average review can be to prospective customers. And while you can’t control the way people choose to talk about your brand, you can control how you choose to respond. If you can’t keep track of and respond to reviews across the hundreds of review sources consumers depend on to make decisions, the message can end up controlling you instead of the other way around.
If you’re looking for help managing your brand’s reputation or digital advertising presence, visit our website or contact us today to see how we can start helping you.