“If I could leave no stars I would!…I’ll be sure to tell all my family and friends about his rude [expletive] customer service…”
The above review (edited, of course) is real. It belongs to a family-owned restaurant that has been popular with MY family for years. And I can’t believe this person’s experience is true. It’s one bad review in a sea of better ones. But it’s not unique to this business. Sites like Yelp!, TripAdvisor, Google and Facebook make reviews not only easy to find, but difficult to manage. What’s a business owner to do?
Understand that some bad reviews are unavoidable.
According to research on the subject, a consumer is 21% more likely to leave a review after a bad experience than after a good one. Why? There are countless reasons for this, but a few common ones include:
- If a customer is disappointed, they may want to protect others from the same experience.
- If a customer believes they’ve been lied to, ignored or otherwise wronged, they may seek some sort of retribution against or reparations from the business.
- Sometimes, negative reviews are nefarious. I once had a client getting lots of negative reviews from people employed by a competitor. But that’s not typically the primary explanation for lots of negative reviews.
You probably knew when you started your business (or agreed to manage it) that you couldn’t please everyone. Maybe the menu at your burger restaurant doesn’t include gluten-free bread or a vegan patty. Maybe your hotel doesn’t offer free breakfast or free parking. Maybe your office isn’t open on the weekends. You know you won’t please people seeking those options! So it comes with the territory that customer experiences won’t be all sunshine and rainbows. But that doesn’t mean you can’t tip the odds in your favor.
What are they unhappy about?
According to a study by Corra, 52% of negative reviews center around customer service issues. The good news? Those are typically avoidable.
Some customers might run straight to every review site on the internet if they think they’ve been wronged. Some people are like that. But in my experience, there’s typically some inclination that they’re unhappy before they go public. If you get a lot of calls, emails, tweets, private messages or any other communications about a specific employee or issue, do something about it before it goes viral.
If you already have negative reviews to deal with, take inventory. What are people upset about? Do they not like fees they feel were hidden? Are they dissatisfied with the wait time to speak to someone about their problem? Is a disgruntled employee ruining their experience?
The best defense is a good offense.
Are your employees trained to address customer issues? Are they empowered to do so?
One of the primary reasons I love to shop on Wayfair, aside from its easy-to-use app and good prices, is its stellar customer service. The person answering the phone is the SAME PERSON authorized to provide a refund or exchange. I once had an issue with a bed I ordered. My husband had to fix it himself, and I wanted them to know so they wouldn’t have other customers calling about that product too. As an apology, they gave me a 10% refund for the inconvenience.
So treat your employees well. Happy employees make happy customers. Reward them for a job well done. And give them the power to make customers happy. It’ll go a long way.