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If You Get Negative Reviews, Be Grateful

Blog, Marketing, Small Business

The Negative Impact

Like many others, I’ve struggled with weight issues my entire life. You name the diet, I’ve tried it: low carb, no carb, counting calories, etc. I’ve had varying degrees of success and failure, but the problem persists.

At the age of 56, I can’t decide whether to keep up the fight or just surrender to the buffet.

A few years ago, while obsessively tracking my calories, I would weigh myself daily. Every morning I’d step out of the shower and onto the scale, to see what progress, if any, I’d made the previous day.

Progress was painfully slow and in minuscule increments, while even a tiny misstep seemed to undo a week of successes. If you can’t relate, you probably know someone who can.

I don’t remember why, but I skipped a weigh-in one morning -I was probably running late for work. I followed my diet the entire day, faithfully recording each consumed calorie on a yellow sticky note. The next morning, I stepped out of the shower and climbed onto the scale, eagerly awaiting the results.

I’d gained 1.4 pounds.

When I arrived at my office, my “work wife” Sherry, a dear friend of mine and lifelong Weight Watchers success story, could tell something was bugging me.

She asked, and I related the above to her, expecting (and hoping) for some sympathetic commiserating. Instead, she said this:

“Be glad. Every time you step on that scale, you get the data you need to know moving forward.”

My personal battle of the bulge continues to this day, but Sherry’s words have stuck with me.

Developing a Formula 

In the modern age, complaints take the form of negative online reviews, which are on display globally and permanently.

Don’t you envy the days when all a business owner had to worry about was bad word of mouth and maybe a strongly worded letter?

That last bad Yelp! review you got will be read by most of the customers you will have for years. The other side of that coin is that so will your response.

What will you do with the data you received as you move forward?

It seems like a simple formula: courtesy, of course, always, followed by every reasonable effort to “make it right”. Most of the time, that will suffice. Sometimes, it won’t.

There will always be those who won’t be happy no matter what you do – they will never move beyond their first impression. This can be especially frustrating when that bad first impression is the result of a misunderstanding or error on the customer’s part.

You and your staff did everything right, but the customer dropped the ball and blames you. When that happens, all you can do is remain courteous.

CUSTOMER JASON:
I ordered the super deluxe model from your website and when it got here the box was caved in on one side. Luckily the unit wasn’t damaged, but you really should be more careful when you pack boxes. The unit wasn’t broken but it’s not the same color as it is on your website, and it’s a lot smaller than I thought it would be. You said it was ten inches on each side, you people must be using a different ruler than the rest of the world. It looks cheaply made and I wouldn’t be surprised if it falls apart in six months. I’m really disappointed. Needless to say, I’m never ordering anything from you again. Buyer beware!

 

YOUR RESPONSE:
We’re sorry to hear that you are dissatisfied with the super deluxe model, Jason. Please be assured that our staff handle and package all shipments with the utmost care. We are as disappointed as you are to learn that the packaging was damaged in transit once it left our hands. As consumers ourselves, we know how important it is that we provide customers with all possible information regarding our products, and we make every effort to provide multiple photos of all products, as well as accurate data and product information. At this time, the super deluxe model is only available in white. Nothing is more important to us than your satisfaction, and we’d be more than happy to either replace your super deluxe model or refund your purchase price, whichever you prefer. You can call us at 555-555-5555, write to us at returns@ourwebsite.com, or simply send your super deluxe model back to us in the mail with a copy of the invoice we sent with it. Please let us know if there’s anything else we can do, and we look forward to the opportunity to make this right for you.

 

CUSTOMER JASON, SIX WEEKS LATER:

Too little, too late! This was going to be a birthday gift for my cousin Floyd, and his birthday was yesterday! You had one chance to get my business and you blew it! Why would I give you another chance when there are a million other companies out there selling this stuff? I pity anyone who gives you a chance after the way you treated me! Toodles!

 

YOUR RESPONSE:

We are always ready to go the extra mile to please our customers, Jason, but we understand your disappointment and sincerely wish we had met your expectations. Again, we will happily refund your money or replace the super deluxe model if you change your mind, 555-555-5555 or returns@ourwebsite.com. Thank you for your feedback and we hope you will consider giving us another chance.

The Importance of Objective Understanding

I’m no customer relations expert, so I’m sure I missed a few points in that example, but you get the idea. If I read a review like this about a business I was considering buying from, I’d keep reading.

If there are three or four reviews like this but five hundred positive reviews, I’m going to give the company a shot, because I know how some people are, and so do your customers.

As an author, I’m of course delighted when one of my books gets a five-star review, and, yes, I’ll admit it, I gloat over every word in those reviews.

The worst review I’ve gotten was a two-star review. It upset me. Not because they gave me two stars (though that certainly didn’t thrill me), but because they didn’t write a single word of review. They cared enough to click on the two stars, but not enough to tell me why they didn’t like the book, and that drove me crazy.

I am dying to know what they didn’t like about my “product”, so I can consider it when I move forward with my next book.

Maybe it wasn’t important – maybe the book just wasn’t for them. But maybe it WAS important: maybe my syntax was bad, or I inadvertently copied an idea or character from someone else’s book (I don’t read other people’s books, I’m too busy writing my own).

Welcome the opportiunity.

In any case, I’d welcome the opportunity to address their criticisms. I might need that data moving forward.

It’s tough, I know, but when those negative reviews come in, put yourself in that customer’s shoes, and respond in the way you’d want to be responded to if you were in their shoes. And your social media team should do it promptly: every minute that review goes unanswered gives potential new customers the opportunity to take the review, and your silence, at face value.

Think of your response as advertising, because that’s what it is for those potential new customers. You want – you NEED – a top-notch social media team working for you.

Black and white headshot of Steve Gans.

Steve Gans, Content Writer

Steve Gans is. a content writer at Rise Visible and lives and writes in Clearwater, Florida and is a pubished author. He is a graduate of Western Illinois University and is owned by three cats.

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