Matthew Gates 7m 1,712
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
You have worked hard to build up your company and invested a lot of time and money into your business, your products, and your services. You have learned Business 101 from experience, mastered Business Ethics 201, and even learned all about Business 600 from almost failing to get out there, but you pushed through, kept on going, and now you are a reputable company that has repeat customers, a fan base of your products, a few sponsors, and commercials going for you.
Maybe you even have a small-time celebrity to endorse your products or services. Whatever the case may be, your business is your livelihood, your money, your paycheck, and your financial stability. In other words, you are making enough money now to have hired a few part-time or full-time staff members who you have grown to trust. You feel as if everyone is family and working hard to make your business a successful venture. Then it happens for whatever reason: A bad review from an unhappy customer.
A bad review can be in the form of several things: A bad comment about your company could have been left in the comments section of a page on your website; your business could have received 1 star on a rating site; someone wrote about you on Google Plus for Businesses and gave you a bad rating with an undesirable comment, or worse — they have reported you to the BBB (Better Business Bureau), and once there are complaints on there, it is hard for your business to recover. Fortunately, complaints anywhere are not going to stop other happy satisfied customers from continuing to come to you for their needs and wants.
One bad review is most likely not even going to affect your company status. A customer could have had a bad day or even one of your employee’s could have gotten snippy with a customer, and upset the wrong customer, which is why you should train your employees to be friendly no matter what and do all they can to live by: “The Customer Is Almost Always Right.” If in doubt, have a manager or personally handle tough customer situations yourself. It is only when you start receiving multiple bad reviews when you should start worrying about the reputation of your business.
The best way to handle a bad review is not to defend yourself and tell the customer that they were wrong, but to actually talk with the customer and figure out WHAT THEY NEED in order to make things feel right again. How much is it really going to cost your business to go out of the way and provide a little extra for the customer? For example, I remember ordering about 10 items from a company. I received only 9 items and called up the company.
They immediately knew I was not lying, they did not accuse me of anything, but rather, they said, “We are sorry Mr. Gates, we actually have the item right here, which was supposed to be shipped to you with the other items, but the packaging changed the Shipping and Handling price. We are going to ship it separately and that will not be of any charge to you.” End of conversation, end of the phone call. They made it right and shipped me my item. I wish they had called me before I received my items to make me aware of the fact that one of my products was not shipped, but they knew exactly what they did.
Once I gave them the order number, I did not have to explain anything else. Good communication across the company but only slightly poor communication to the customer — an email or a phone call would have sufficed. However, this is not any reason for me to be upset or mad at the company.
Lets go to my second example of a mistake on my part, but due to bad communication on the company’s part. If there is anything ALL COMPANIES can do, it is to be better at communicating with their customers, especially through online orders. I ordered two HUMP DAY shirts from GEICO and I never received them. They sent me an invoice but never replied to any of my emails regarding the status of my order. I had ordered this shirt as a gift for someone. Their birthday came, but the shirts did not. It had been over 3 weeks and nothing. I wrote them an upset email, demanding that I be refunded or that I would go to the BBB, which I did end up reporting them.
The next day the UPSP delivered a package to me that I had not remembered ordering. I had moved across the country and wondered what this package was doing here. I happened to change my address and the USPS followed through and shipped my order to where I ordered all my mail to go: across the country. I ended up having to ship it back to the person for a now-belated birthday present. This was never the fault of the company at all. I managed to call the BBB as they were getting ready to process the paperwork.
The BBB informed me that once a complaint is filed, regardless of whether it is legit or not, the complaint remains filed as a complaint and gets posted to the website. Fortunately, the BBB had not processed the complaint I sent in and informed me they would destroy it and not process it at all. For those illegitimate complaints or complaints that eventually get resolved, they still remain on the BBB permanently.
It is up to the company to resolve issues and make comments against the complaint. It was not the fault of the GECIO, the third party company, nor the USPS. The fault strictly lied with me for changing my address, then ordering a product, and forgetting that I had changed my address. I called GEICO and even wrote them an email apologizing for my own error.
So what can you do to recover from a bad review? You can probably start with this list!
- Know that ALL of your customers are your number one priority. It is the customer who allows your business to thrive.
- Communication is key in any relationship, whether it is a personal, professional, or business relationship. Communication can either make you the best or the worst company in the world, so do your best to be available by phone, email, or online chat.
- Train all your employees to provide the utmost care and respect to all your customers and give them lessons in dealing with sad, rude, mean, miserable, horrible, upset, or bad customers. Have practice or training sessions to see how your employees would handle the situation. Afterwards, put it to practice in real life business situations where they believe the customer calling on the other line is a real customer.
- Work with the customer to deliver them the products they ordered and ensure they received it — you may have to request a signature if you find too many customers are not receiving their package.
- Never accuse the customer of lying – they may have their facts wrong, but they believe they are right. Work with them to figure out the exact issues and what went wrong.
- If you are dealing with a customer who is complaining, they are most likely not happy. The best thing your company can do in that situation is not argue with them, but support them, and be as understanding as possible.
- Do not negatively attack or accuse the customer by phone, email, or comments by telling them they are wrong – they ordered a product or a service from you, not because they felt like causing trouble with your company, but because they most likely wanted something your company offered and that is why you exist in the first place.
- If your unsatisfied customer complains on a public website such as Yelp, Google Business, or even this website, you will want to explain the exact issue from your point of view to give reviewers of your company a chance to see both sides of the story.
- Remember to provide only facts, not opinion. The general favor will always lie in the customer’s opinion, not the opinion of your company.
- Remember that everyone has bad days and the last thing you want to do is contribute to someone’s bad day, especially if they are angry with your company, so if you can, do your best to make their day better, whether you offer incentives in the form of a gift card, a current discount or a discount on the next order.
- Remember that one unsatisfied customer is not just one unsatisfied customer. That one unsatisfied customer may have access to hundreds of people – between friends, family, and co-workers, and they will easily spread through word of mouth that your company is horrible and not to buy from you, thus causing you potential losses in hundreds to thousands of dollars, so treat every customer like they are all of your customers.
- ALWAYS BE WILLING TO ADMIT THAT YOU OR YOUR COMPANY MADE A MISTAKE TO THE CUSTOMER. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO APOLOGIZE. ALL COMPANIES MAKE MISTAKES. Amazon.com, one of the largest and oldest online retailers, has sent me the wrong product or a defective product at least once or twice in the times I have ordered from them. Companies are filled with human beings and human beings make mistakes. Your customers are more willing to sympathize with your company if you are willing to accept that your company made a mistake and are doing all you can to correct it.
There are so many small things your company can do to amend a mistake or make a customer happy and avoid negative or bad reviews about your company. Even if a customer complains about your company and then retracts the statement or comments on their own complaint stating that your company worked with them to fix the issue, this will go a long way in showing that your company has good customer service and support. Do all you can to show all or your customers that they are your number one customer. Happy customers are returning customers.