Sooner or later… it is going to happen. Just like you can’t go through life without ever catching a cold, you won’t own a service business without getting a few bad reviews. The worst kind is the unexpected or unfair bad reviews as those can really drive you crazy and for good reason!
I’ve seen bad reviews left because the HVAC company wouldn’t discount the final bill $500 under the threat of review. How crazy is that? And while I hope you never have to cross that path, it isn’t far-fetched to have a customer demand a bad review.
My contracting company has garnered a bad review because we don’t offer a particular service. Unfortunately, this customer couldn’t respect the fact that we are not the Walmart of home services and stick to one particular niche really well (patios and decks).
It’s frustrating and painful.
Now not all bad reviews are unwarranted – although they can be frustrating.
In 2018, whether we like it or not, reviews are part of marketing your service business whether that is HVAC, plumbing, handyman, patio/deck, or painting. A Local Consumer Review Survey revealed that 85 % of the consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations — cementing reviews as social proof. So, if you ever get a bad review, you need to be able to get past them like a pro! Here’s how:
STEP 1. DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
The most important thing of all… DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY. This one is two-fold.
First, don’t let the bad review bother you outside of business hours! Don’t lose sleep over it. Don’t let it ruin your weekend. Bad reviews are a part of the business. You can’t control them.
Second, a personal reaction is a mood setter for the entire process and will affect all actions. If you set a bad mood, it will be felt in everything you do and you might end up giving it your best without having anything to show for in the end. The client will still be unhappy and you, more frustrated than ever.
STEP 2. IMMEDIATELY TAKE THE CONVERSATION OFFLINE
After you get in the right mindset, the single most important thing to do is to TAKE THE CONVERSATION OFFLINE. Leave a simple and “peaceful” message commenting on the thread, one that includes the mention of you fixing the problem asap, and then never address the problem online again. It’s best to have a standard message ready before you’ll need it. In the heat of the moment, flooded with frustration, it can be challenging to think of nice, neutral things to say. Think of a generic response to a bad review and save it until you have to use it. Generic but empathetic.
Pro Tip #1: Apologize for the issue in the generic response. For example, you might say “Ms. Jones we’re sorry about the overstay that got on the patio furniture while painting the exterior of the home. That generally isn’t an issue. Please contact us @ __________ so we can take corrective action.”
Pro Tip #2: Remember that how other people read your response is more important than how satisfied the customer is with your response. In other words, you might not be able to make that customer happy, so focus on showing the customer that you care. That ties in with #1.
STEP 3. ACT SWIFTLY AND DE-ESCALATE THE CONFLICT
Whatever the problem will be, you need to deal with it as soon as possible, act swiftly so that it won’t have a chance to escalate. Think of a bad review as a small fire. If you’re quick to respond and put it out, there’s hardly any damage left behind, but if you give it a chance to spread, then it has the potential to burn the house down! The sooner you act, the better. It will also have a tremendous impact on your unsatisfied client. People tend to deal poorly with frustration so you should limit the amount of time the dissatisfied customers are subjected to it. Don’t think in terms of who’s right and who’s wrong, just have your interest in mind and deflate the problem before it bursts. It will make for a far better ending. I can assure you.
STEP 4. RE-EVALUATE YOUR PROCESS AND IMPROVE YOUR SYSTEM
Now that the problem is still fresh in your mind, the best thing to do for your business is to figure out what systems and processes you can implement to stop it from happening again. It might have been your fault, or it might not have been. That’s not the focus. What can be done to prevent it, is. Was there a misunderstanding? Was the client superficial in hers or his assessment of the situation? Were they unnaturally quick to react? It doesn’t matter. Just make sure you do what it takes to prevent it from happening again. Be extra clear. Offer a direct line for complaints, whatever it takes, so that bad experiences don’t end up as bad reviews anymore.
STEP 5. DON’T TRY TO CHANGE PEOPLE’S MINDS, JUST THEIR FEELINGS
Let’s face it, some reviews will be based on a subjective complaint. DO NOT TRY TO CONVINCE THE CUSTOMER THAT THEY WERE WRONG. Instead, offer them a discount or simply swiftly fix the issue with the promise they will delete the bad review and never post one again. Being right doesn’t mean you’ll be winning. Admitting you were wrong is one of the hardest things a person has to do. Some people prefer starting wars to avoid it.
STEP 6. DROWN THE BAD REVIEW WITH POSITIVE ONES
Out of sight, out of mind, they say, and this can’t be truer than in the case of bad reviews. You should try to DROWN THE BAD REVIEW WITH POSITIVE ONES so that it loses its influence completely. Do a few extra good jobs in the aftermath of a negative review. Give a few discounts out of the blue. People will be moved and they’ll instinctively share their experience online. The enthusiasm of a genuinely happy customer can usually be felt through the way they write and it’s a very contagious feeling.
Pro Tip #3: Get an automated review building software and start using it now!
STEP 7. SPIN THE NEGATIVE SITUATION INTO A POSITIVE ONE
THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO EVERY COIN. That is the way life goes, it’s just a matter of perspective. A negative scenario can be turned on its head and glow with positive vibes. This is not some hippie mambo-jumbo, it’s simple spiritual hygiene. We tend to be extra affected by life’s unexpected blows and there’s nothing unhealthier than this. Think of a bad review as a good way to practice your diplomatic skills, a good way to improve your business and a wakeup call to be quick on your feet. Think of a bad review as the perfect fuel for getting better!
Now that you’ve gone through how to handle the reviews, the bottom line is that you should take a quantitative approach. Not personal. Some people lose sleep over bad reviews. I did in the beginning, but 1 bad review won’t ruin your business, especially if you know how to handle the situation like a pro.
If you follow these steps and you’re still dealing with a dissatisfied customer, you need to move on. Alfred, Batman’s butler, once said, “Some people just want to watch the world burn.” It’s no longer about you now, it’s about them.