Negative online reviews can ripple across an entire organization, slowing sales and impacting morale. Reviews are often the first place people look when they’re considering a product or service, and businesses are keen to receive positive words. High praise on platforms like Yelp or Google has become so valuable that some organizations have resorted to paying customers for it. While this strategy—find a happy customer, reward them for sharing their experience—might seem like an elegant solution to the problem, it only exacerbates existing issues. Here’s why.

A study published last year in Marketing Science looked at the correlation between compensation and online reviews. It found that people can feel ingenuine when paid to review a product or service, leading them to question their initial positive experience. On average, a business might end up actually receiving fewer online reviews after introducing monetary rewards.

So, paying or incentivizing people to review can actually slow things down. But it’s also a question of truth. A business owner sees a problem with reviews, and thinks money is an easy fix. But, as so often quoted on inspirational posters, money can’t buy happiness. If people are leaving a lot of negative reviews for a business, it’s probably because something is off. Reputations aren’t built in people’s wallets, they are built with smiles, kind words, and excellent service.

The best approach to gaining positive reviews is self-reflection and communication. Are your employees treating customers well? Do your processes run smoothly? Are people getting what they paid for? Are you outperforming expectations? It’s not easy to take a long, hard look at these questions, but the rewards for this reevaluation are worth it. Business owners who take the time to truly examine their system are going to earn their good reviews.

As a leading digital marketing company in Utah, TMD Marketing & Advertising is here to help businesses grow smart in the long-term. We’re not about those get-rich-quick strategies. Get in touch if you are seeking honest, effective help with your digital marketing.