Losing Sleep Over a Negative review? - Part Two

Part two of this article was never published until now… we’re continuing our discussion on how to deal with “Bad Reviews.”

After all, there is a reason that you decided to go into business for yourself, to be your own boss. It obviously wasn’t for the freedom! Was it?

Focus on your goals Every morning remember why you are doing this, remember what it is that you are trying to provide. The product, the service. Whether it’s hot apple pie, that mom used to make, selling that hot new solar-powered power drill or providing tech support to your clients. It’s important to stay true to your objectives as both a business and an individual.

When receiving or hearing about that negative review, there is a sudden urge to micromanage or to enact drastic changes. Micromanaging can be self-destructive, time-consuming, and ultimately, a significant distraction as you lose focus on what you’re supposed to be doing, running your business. Think about it; this is what your competitors want; they want you to fail. Unfortunately, Social Media, in a way, ensures a form of isolation.

Sean Parker, the billionaire early Facebook investor and Napster founder, says Mark Zuckerberg knowingly created a monster with addictive social media. Parker, speaking at an Axios event, pulled back the curtain on Facebook’s early days, saying it was designed to consume people.

And all this time everyone thought that Facebook was designed to enable people to communicate with each other.

Nope, all the sharing and liking were used as a drug to get people hooked on checking Facebook non-stop.

How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible,” said Parker, referring to Facebook’s earliest mission. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains, Parker said. The candid interview wasn’t the first time a Silicon Valley insider had sounded the alarm on the digital dangers of social media and the internet. However, in light of the mass disinformation dump on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and everywhere online during the recent presidential election, the real-world consequences have become far more clearer and frightening.

Published on November 09, 2017. By Garett Sloane.

Before you reply to a negative review, do your research, ask questions. Read the bad review, circulate it around your staff members, tear it apart, and as mentioned before, ask questions. Try to think of the circumstances and the reasons this review was given to prepare a response. Look at the details, is the information provided in the online review too precise? Meaning, would a client know the actual numbers, would they know your recipe? For example.

Do not wait too long to respond.
Timing is always a key factor. There is an old saying that goes, tackle something while it is fresh in one’s mind. The faster a negative review is addressed, the more manageable the discussion. Make information available, clear up any possible misunderstandings, and reply to any initial inquiries. A negative review can quickly be turned around with a quick response. Customer service shows professionalism and integrity.

It’s outdated; the publisher will not write a retraction, or even allow you to refute the claims.

Not knowing about a negative review can place you in a precarious situation, it’s difficult, but it does happen. Do you remember in our earlier article how I mention that a lot of the news posted on the Internet, is deemed fake? So read the review with a grain of salt, if it is indeed, really bad or damaging, then address it, even if it is outdated and post it in a forum on your website, on Social Media, or have it in a booklet by the cash register. Include the authors name, the publication, the date, and provide hard evidence that the comments made are false.

For example, if you serve 2000 hotdogs in a week, and only one person has complained, what does that say. Back the comment with hard facts, a smart client will be able to see through the fog and the noise. These are the types of clients, which in the end, you want, successful people.

Customer reviews come in many different flavours today. From the written text to nothing but acronyms, to the modern day style of hieroglyphics, the Emoji. You’ll have days where you’ll read a review, and you’ll find that you can manage a reply. Other times you’ll read a review and second guess yourself.

In some cases you can establish contact, if that is an option, do not be alarmed if the response is not as warm and fuzzy as you might expect. This parts very important, listen, do not judge the person, but at the same time do not ignore the client or the situation.

Ignoring a negative review does not make it go away; in hindsight, it may make things worse.

Remember in English class when your teacher always said keep your questions open-ended. Well, here we go again, it’s important to ask questions where you can get the information you want.

Here are a few examples: “What do you think we should do?” “Why do you think a (service, product, or dish) didn’t work?”

Asking for specifics will help you understand the feedback clearly and weed out that bored ten-year-old boy.

With a common goal in mind, you have provided your client with more information and listened to what your client has to say. Now what? How do you turn a bad review into a positive one?

  • You are responsible for your actions.
  • Don’t make excuses and don’t be afraid to admit you were wrong.
  • If your apology is sincere, the more credible you’ll be in your client’s mind.

Customers who bought your poutine, for example, did so under the promise that despite substituting the cheese, the taste and quality would be the same. These loyal customers received a shock and openly took it upon themselves to voice their opinion.

Case in point: In 1985 The Coca-Cola Company replaced the original formula of its flagship soft drink, Coca-Cola (also called Coke), and introduced New Coke, which didn’t have a separate name of its own, it was merely known as “the new taste of Coca-Cola” until 1992 when it was officially renamed Coke II.

However, the public’s reaction to the change was adverse, even hostile, and the new cola was a major marketing failure. The subsequent, rapid reintroduction of Coke’s original formula (the original formula was re-branded as “Coca-Cola Classic” and was put in the market within three months of New Coke’s debut) resulted in a significant gain in sales. This led to speculation that the introduction of the New Coke formula was just a marketing ploy; however, the company has always maintained it was a genuine attempt to replace the original product.

New Coke was on the market in the United States for only a short period, but it remains influential as a cautionary tale against tampering too extensively with a well-established and successful brand. It was discontinued internationally in July 2002.

Why is this example important. Consider this, if someone has gone out of their way to leave a negative review, turn that negative into a positive one. You’ll still have to solve the problem, or at the very least, oust a competitor, if it turns out to be Corporate espionage. When a grievance is legitimate, all you have to do is solve the problem.

In business, we must remember that we must learn at every opportunity; you can only wear so many hats before something slips through. Pay attention, make necessary changes and use it as a chance to improve your business model. 

“Now offering new red colour sneakers with white souls.”

Clients will appreciate a business that’s willing to adapt to their needs and acknowledge changes you’ve made. At the end of the day, by leaving a negative review, the client has given you a chance to improve.

Learn to excel at customer service, whether or not the review is justified. Letting someone know they’ve forced you to make changes can go a long way in cementing long-term support for you and your company.

Find that happy place. Imagine a world without negative feedback. You would have no way of knowing how to improve; there would be a complete lack of customer interaction. No matter how terrible a review, or how arduous the customer, think of the rewards that come with staying positive. Sometimes merely accepting your shortcomings and doing the best with what you have is enough.

Consider this; chances are you’re not Target Stores in Canada or Volkswagen in Europe for that matter. At the end of the day remember to treat yourself. Have you ever left a negative review? If so, how do you feel the business handled it?

Published in Evolving Media Chronicles, Fall 2018.
Written by Jeff Poissant, RGD
Edited by Kevin Burns

A photo of Jeff Poissant, owner of Evolving Media & Design Inc.

Jeff Poissant, RGD
Senior Creative Director and Media Specialist
Celebrating 24 years in business

Designer, Photographer, Videographer, Writer,
Consultant, Web Developer, Service Provider,
Your strategic partner to promote your business.