Unbelievable! Reviewers Blamed for Movie Flops!

by Colin Shaw on October 3, 2017

It was a slow summer at movie theaters and Hollywood is blaming an unlikely culprit: the online review site Rotten Tomatoes!

The New York Times reports that studio executives aren’t fans of the way the website aggregates reviews from critics and audience members. If you aren’t familiar with Rotten Tomatoes, it assigns movies a percentage score based on the relative number of positive and negative reviews. A score of 60 or above gets a red tomato icon. Lower scores are marked with a green splat.

Executives say the site overlooks nuances in reviews, and they don’t like its definition of who qualifies as a critic. And they especially don’t like that the Rotten Tomatoes score now appears on the movie ticket purchasing site Fandango. Oddly enough, Fandango, which owns Rotten Tomatoes, is itself owned by two movie studios.

Blaming Others is Not a Winning Strategy

This is a classic example of companies blaming other people for their own failure to focus on what customers want.

I often see companies and employees who are quick to blame someone else in their organization whenever a problem occurs. This happens when executives and managers blame poor customer retention on marketing or an ill-trained sales staff. And it happens in everyday customer interactions. You contact a company because you have an issue with their product or service, and you’re told “Well I don’t know who told you that,” or “They shouldn’t have done it that way,” or any other number of things that imply that someone else in the organization screwed up.

Blaming someone else is a sure sign of a company that is inwardly focused instead of looking at ways to be more customer centric. It is far better to simply admit that things aren’t right, apologize and explain how you’re going to fix the problem.

Review Sites are Helpful – If a Company Bothers to Listen

It doesn’t surprise me that Rotten Tomatoes and review sites Yelp and TripAdvisor have become popular. People are looking for experiences and purchases that will leave themfeeling good, and the best way to judge this in advance is to see what other people say. The motel off the interstate might be a good rational choice because it’s cheap and convenient, but when you read that the manager is unhelpful and the place smells like dirty diapers, you might happily spend more money to stay at a place where the staff goes ‘above and beyond’.

At our global customer experience consultancy, we address the emotional side of a customer’s experience by helping companies identify their Emotional Signature – a measure of their emotional engagement with customers. Emotional Signature is one of the building blocks of a customer-centric strategy that leads to better customer experiences and greater value for a company.

Given the price of a movie ticket these days, patrons reasonably want to know whether a movie is any good before they plunk down $50 or more to take the kids to the Cineplex. Research shows that 34 percent of American teenagers now check Rotten Tomatoes before they buy a movie ticket and there is stiff competition from video streaming services like Netflix.

In blaming Rotten Tomatoes for this summer’s movie going slump, studios are looking for a scapegoat instead of working to find out what their customers really want and how best to give it to them. The amazing thing is that customer feedback is easy to get from the user reviews on the Rotten Tomatoes site itself. Studios could use this information to inform their decisions about what kind of movies to make in the future.

One studio executive told the Times that his mission is to destroy Rotten Tomatoes! When a company takes this approach, it sends a clear message that it is not listening to its customers. If next year brings more films that don’t perform well at the box office, the studios – and moviegoers – will continue to be disappointed.

Do you use Rotten Tomatoes? Do you think it causes movies to fail? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

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Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s leading Customer experience consultancy & training organizations. Colin is an international author of six bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker.

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX

Colin ShawUnbelievable! Reviewers Blamed for Movie Flops!