“Did you read that review someone posted about our store on Facebook?”
Your heart drops. You know from the tone of your panicked employee’s voice that this cannot be good.
You frantically find your phone, open up Facebook and navigate to your page to read IT.
And there it is. The stars – or lack thereof – that ruined your week…maybe even your entire month. Heck, your stomach probably still turns when you think about the reviews that threaten to “ruin” your business reputation.
Here’s the thing:
We’ve all dealt with less than stellar business reviews. In fact, because most business owners understand that it’s nearly impossible to make every single customer happy 100% of the time, many of my clients choose not to include reviews on their social media.
Unfortunately, disgruntled customers will always find a way to get their message out. Whether it’s through Yelp, online discussion boards, or just through good old fashion word-of-mouth – when an unhappy customer wants to share their experience, they’ll find an outlet.
The easy thing for me to do, would be to tell you to “let it roll off your back” or “take it with a grain of salt.”
But advice like that doesn’t help you grow, and it doesn’t solve the issues that will likely stem from a bad review.
Stay calm and assess the situation.
Human instinct is to immediately respond to the reviewer – quickly ticking off all the reasons that their problem is the result of their inability to be pleased.
Slam on the breaks.
Let’s take a deep breath, take a step back and assess.
More than likely the review falls into one of two categories: one star or three star.
Let’s be honest, most one star reviews are from super angry people who haven’t put a lot of thought into their reviews.
“The smell in this store was very strong and gave me a headache.”
If you own a store that specializes in aromatherapy, there’s not much you can do to win this customer over. But when you’re in a good place, review the comments again and try to think of ways you can make the experience better for other customers that might have similar issues with your store.
Now the three star reviews – those are a different animal.
Three star reviews typically aren’t from disgruntled customers who are just desperately unhappy. Three star reviews are usually from people that have taken time to think about the good and the bad, and they’ve written a thoughtful review that is really focused on giving you constructive criticism.
It’s easy to tell yourself that the three star reviewers fall into the same category as the one star reviews…and that there’s nothing you can do to improve your store because the problem is them, not you.
As hard as it is, take a good long look at the three star reviews. Break them down and take a good hard look at what the reviewer is saying. Make an honest effort to implement a plan that will help you make improvements so other shoppers don’t walk away with similar feelings.
Three star reviews can help you grow, if you’ll let them.
Respond to legitimate concerns.
After you’ve had a couple of days to calm down, really reflect on the comments from the negative review and implement noticeable changes, reach out to the reviewer.
Do not – I repeat, DO NOT – reach out to the reviewer while you are still angry.
Check out Amy’s Baking Company’s infamous Yelp! response to find out exactly why you should take a few days to reflect before responding to a negative review.
When you’re in a good place and can trust yourself not to personally attack the reviewer, address the concerns. If you know the customer and can do so privately, reach out via phone or email. If you don’t know the customer, but can reach back out to them via the review site, post a simple message:
“Customer service is our top priority and I sincerely apologize for your bad experience. Each of our employees has taken part in refresher on our customer service training, and I’d love to offer you 10% off to come back, give us another shot and post another review.”
Let it go.
You’re singing it again, now aren’t you?
As soon as you finish with the chorus…let’s talk about what you can do after you’ve reflected and responded to the negative review.
The final step in dealing with a negative review is to let it go.
If you’ve truly assessed the complaints and taken steps to improve your store so that other customers don’t have a similar experience, you can feel good about boxing up that negative review and putting it on a shelf, never to be opened again.
Pick yourself up by reading all the positive comments you’ve received over the months or years.
Negative reviews hurt, but good can come from them. Growth can come from them.