The democratic nature of the internet means that everyone has the ability to voice their opinion. Reviews on platforms like Google and Facebook are an important part of this democracy.
The fact that your customers can leave a review about your business is, generally speaking, a good thing. Great reviews help convert more prospective clients into bookings. Unfortunately, there is a negative side as many artists are only too aware.
Here, we discuss the best way to deal with a bad review if you’re unlucky enough to receive one.
Resist the urge to panic
The discovery that you’ve received a bad review is often met with a number of negative emotions. Depending on the situation, you may experience feelings of shock, injustice, frustration or anger. When as an artist you pour your heart and soul into what you do, it’s perfectly understandable to feel all of these things.
Bad reactions and decisions are usually made during times of heightened stress. The first thing to do is to prevent yourself from responding immediately. It can wait, at least a few hours until you’re able to assess the situation more objectively.
At Team Micro, we rarely receive bad reviews but it does happen. I used to react badly, especially when I knew the review was unjustified, but I quickly learned that the most productive way to deal with the situation is with a calm approach.
Be honest with yourself
As difficult as it may be, try to put yourself in the shoes of your customer. Deciding whether or not the bad review has any legitimate merit will determine how you respond to the review.
- Was the review justified?
- Could you have handled the situation differently?
- Given the customers level of understanding, would you have felt the same?
- Or are you certain the customer is 100% at fault?
Try to work it out
Ultimately your preferred outcome would be for the customer to remove the review. This is not always feasible of course, but consider if there is anything you can do to remedy the situation.
If your customer has raised legitimate points in their review, is there anything you can do to make it right?
If you provided a great service and treatment outcome, is the review due to skewed expectations? Was your customer expecting something unrealistic? Are they part-way through the treatment or healing process? Do they understand the process?
You may choose to invite the customer back to your studio to carry out any additional or remedial work. If you choose to do so, I recommend you first ask the customer to remove their review. They can always repost it later if they remain dissatisfied.
At Team Micro we received a bad review about two weeks ago. The information contained within the review was entirely false and libellous, and was born of a misunderstanding on the customers side about what had been agreed. Following a brief email exchange with the customer, we reached a compromise, he removed the review and our client was happy with the outcome. Win-win.
If the customer is simply being unreasonable, it may be the case that nothing can be done to remedy the situation, but it’s always worth trying to work it out first before taking any further action.
Know when to quit
The ability to leave a review gives the customer a certain amount of leverage. Be aware that whilst some reviews are legitimate, sometimes customers use bad reviews (or the threat of a bad review) simply to get something they want.
- More treatment time for free
- A full or partial refund
- Additional services
It is important to recognise when a customer is trying to taking advantage of you. As much as you might want the review to be removed, sometimes there is no remedy and you need to know when to say no.
Respond to a bad review
My personal belief is that you should respond to all reviews, good and bad, whenever possible, however this is especially important when you’ve received a bad review.
Prospective customers reading your reviews do not generally expect a flawless five-star rating. Think about the restaurants you’ve been to, the tradesmen you’ve employed, or the tourist attractions you’ve visited. Very few have the elusive perfect score.
That said, it looks bad when you receive a bad review and fail to respond to it. The customer is generally smart enough to interpret the information in its entirety, but they have no opportunity to do so unless you tell your side of the story.
- Responses should be professional, non-emotional, non-opinionated and to the point.
- Never indulge in trading insults, passive aggressive comments or point scoring.
- Pretend that your reply could end up in front of a judge. Be truthful and stick to the facts you can actually prove.
- Above all, hard as it may be, remain respectful to your client. This speaks a thousand words to anyone who is considering using your services.
Appeal a bad review
It is possible to ask Google to look at the review and decide if it would be appropriate to remove it.
Bear in mind that Google has their own policies on review removal, and may not decide in your favor. We’d like to think they look at your case in detail and will make the right decision, but this isn’t always the case. Furthermore, it is harder to remove a review that is probably legitimate. This action is best reserved for reviews that are spurious in some way.
The process is not as straightforward with Facebook. You cannot remove a negative Facebook review, you can only report it, and only after you have commented on the review. It is also possible to disable reviews on your Facebook page altogether, however this is not preferable in most cases as your positive reviews will also be hidden, and no-one else will be able to review your business on Facebook.
Consider legal action
As a last resort, you might consider professional legal advice if you really want the review to be taken down, and have been unable to resolve the matter with your customer.
Any kind of legal action is inherently stressful and expensive, and does not guarantee success. Consider your options carefully before taking this route.
Your legal position will depend on the laws that govern your country or state, however as a general rule, comments made in reviews that are truthful or cannot be disproved cannot be challenged in court. Reviews that can be proven to be untruthful and damage your business or reputation may be considered libel, and you may have a case.
Should you communicate with your customer after a bad review?
Whether or not you should keep channels of communication open with your customer, or indeed continue to provide treatments, after they have left a bad review for your business, depends entirely on the situation.
As a general rule, I would advise against further contact with the client. They have made their feelings known, you’ve tried to resolve the situation, and perhaps the review was removed. Or perhaps not. In either case, the relationship has effectively broken down, and any further interaction with the customer is likely to result in a negative experience.
There are some exceptions though, where it would be preferable to continue communication. The most obvious exceptions are as follows, and there are many more depending on the circumstances.
- Continued service is needed to resolve an issue
- It is necessary to facilitate removal of the review
- You are trying to avoid legal action
Contrary to common belief, a bad review will not kill your business. Most businesses receive bad reviews from time to time, and although they can be hard to accept, especially when you have an otherwise perfect review score, this really is something that goes with the territory.
Consider the time and energy you will spend trying to get the review removed or revised. Sometimes a better strategy is simply to move on. You can also focus on getting more reviews on Google or Facebook to offset the negative review you received.