A client recently called me in a panic because they had received a 1-star negative review on a Facebook review. Thankfully, she had the good sense to pick up the phone and seek our advice based on her history with Cazbah. The situation was a little bit baffling, though not really uncommon:
An existing customer had worked with our client on a number of occasions, and one of the owners had gone out of his way to provide literally dozens of quotes on projects for the now disgruntled customer. Reading the comment on the negative review, the story did not align with what was being reported. Talking with our client, she was extremely upset because the comments had even been personally attacking the owner who had worked with the customer directly.
I referenced a prior article written by my colleague, Mike Farney, which addressed negative reviews and how to handle them. I am happy to report that his recommendations still hold true. In this particular case, I was able to convince the client to take a deep breath and see it as an opportunity. Since they already had an established relationship with this customer, I suggested first contacting her personally to talk through the details of the discrepancy and how they can make it right.
This client takes their customer service very seriously, and to see somebody say such negative things was first interpreted as being very personally hurtful. She was even tempted to take the opposite approach by defending their case. There are some situations where this approach has actually worked (See an example here). I told her that yes, it could possibly work in her case, but for each story of a bold response working, there are many others which backfire dramatically. Extra attention on a negative review is something you definitely do not want if you can avoid it. It is better to encourage your many satisfied customers to leave positive reviews of their own, completely unrelated to the negative review. That naturally will push down the visibility of the negative reviews and counteract any negative consequences.
This situation is still developing, and I will edit this article with another update over time. I will add one thing to Mike’s prior advice: Take every bit of negative feedback as an opportunity to objectively evaluate the situation. Was there any truth in the feedback at all? Social media offers the attraction of relative anonymity, leading people to say things they would be unlikely to say in person (I like to call it “Facebook Muscles”). Don’t give in to the temptation to respond in kind. Take the positives away from each situation, be better at what you do, and everything will work out.