You’re rolling through your day, checking things off your to-do list left and right, feeling just fine. Then a single question slams the brakes on your productivity, ruining your entire day: “Did you see the bad review someone just posted posted on Facebook?”
Your heart drops. You know from the tone of your panicked employee’s voice that it’s really bad.
You frantically find your phone, open Facebook, and navigate to your page.
And there it is.
The stars – or lack thereof – that will ruin your week…maybe your entire month.
Heck, your stomach might turn years from now when you think about reviews that threatened to ruin your business reputation.
But here’s the thing:
We’ve all dealt with less-than-stellar business reviews. In fact, since most business owners understand that it’s nearly impossible to make every single customer 100% happy all the time, many choose not to allow reviews on their social media channels.
Unfortunately, disgruntled customers will always find ways to broadcast their displeasure. Whether it’s through Yelp, online discussion boards, or just through good old fashioned word-of-mouth, when an unhappy customer wants to share their experience, they’ll find an way.
So, what can you do to turn a bad review into a growth opportunity as a business owner?
Step 1: Stay calm and assess the situation.
It’s instinctive to humans to immediately respond to bad review by mentally listing all the reasons why a customer’s problem is the result of their inability to be pleased. But wait!
Slam on the breaks.
Take a deep breath, take a step back, and assess.
More than likely, the bad review falls into one of two categories: one-star or three-star.
Most one-star reviewers are super-angry customers who haven’t put much thought into their reviews. They’re on a tear.
But three-star reviewers — these are more-refined, more sensible critics of a product or service. Three-star reviews are worth looking into, spending time with, and taking on in ways that can turn the tide and bring the reviewers back into the fold as happier campers.
Three-star reviews usually aren’t from disgruntled customers who are desperately unhappy. Three-star reviews are usually from people who have taken time to think about the good and the bad, and they’ve written thoughtful reviews that are focused on offering constructive criticism.
It’s easy to tell yourself that three-star reviewers fall into the same category as one-star folks, and that there’s nothing you can do to improve your business because the problem is them, not you.
As hard as it can be, take a good long look at three-star reviews. Break them down; pay close attention to what the reviewer is saying. Make an honest effort to create a plan that will help you make improvements so other clients and customers don’t walk away with similar feelings.
Three-star reviews can help you grow when you respect them!
Step 2: Respond to legitimate concerns.
After you’ve spent a couple days calming down, truly reflect on the comments and make prudent changes to address them, then reach out to the reviewer.
Do not – I repeat, DO NOT – reach out to the reviewer while you’re still angry.
When you’re in a good place and can trust yourself not to respond emotionally, address the concerns they expressed. If you know the customer and can interact privately, reach out via phone or email. If you don’t know the customer, but can reach 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 a refresher course on exemplary customer service, and I’d love to offer you 10% off to come back, give us another shot and post another review.”
Step 3: Let it go.
The final step when dealing with a negative review is to let it go.
If you’ve truly assessed the complaints and taken steps to improve your business so other customers and clients don’t have a similar experience, you can feel good about boxing up that negative review and sending it packing.
Pick yourself up by reading the many positive comments you’ve received while you’ve been in business.
Negative reviews hurt, but good can come from them.
Keen insights and growth can come from them.