Your first reaction may be to lash out or respond with an emphatic “Hey! That’s not true!” But experts and owners who’ve been on the receiving end of negative feedback say there are more constructive ways to deal with less-than-glowing comments that will ultimately benefit your business in the long run. Here are their tips:
Take a breath before responding, says Warren Whitlock, who offers more advice for small-business owners at www.warrenwhitlock.com. “Someone else may jump in, or at least you can reply with confidence and positive energy.”
So You’ve Gotten Your Fırst Nasty Yeıp Review Or Snarky Twitter Commemt Photo Gallery
“It’s best to wait a few days to respond to negative feedback,” agrees Holly Furgason. “I’ve learned over the years that a few days will help you reflect on what could have been done differently and what needs to change going forward.”
Respond directly to the complainant whenever possible, says Whitlock. “People need to know you care even more than they need information. Once a person feels they are heard, most warm up.”
Be authentic. Tell the truth and acknowledge the problem, then offer a solution, Whitlock advises. Let them know, “here’s what we’ve done to improve.”
Kill them with kindness. “The best advice I have for anyone who receives a bad review is to react with the customer in mind,” says Kelly Snailum. “You cannot react defensively, even if you don’t think they are right. You have to take up the ‘customer is always right’ philosophy and realize that something happened to this person at your studio that made them feel like you or your employees did not care. They will likely turn into your best client if you show them you care about their opinion enough to address it.”
Offer a solution. “If you stay open- minded and put yourself in the customer’s shoes (or non-slip socks), usually a solution can be implemented,” says Furgason. “This may mean brainstorming with other studio owners and teachers, or asking a friend in management for advice. But often it will be a simple operational change or policy that you can put in place. Once you have found a solution, share it with the reviewer.”
Reply to the review. If you don’t know who posted the comment and can’t respond personally, post a public response to it. Give your side of the story, but don’t contradict the reviewer. “Remember that your goal is not to make the reviewer ‘wrong,’ ” says Whitlock. “Stand up for yourself if need be and provide additional information to help all readers learn.”
Ask for the review to be removed. Yelp and other sites will only do this in extreme cases, such as when a review contains threatening language, personal slander or racial slurs or there are numerous identical reviews that have clearly been cut and pasted.
Think of feedback as a gift, says Furgason. “Most people who have a bad experience will just disappear and you never know why they stopped coming, so you can never improve. When customers take the time to write a review, they give you an opportunity to grow and to change.”
loST in TranSiTion Owner: Kelly Snailum of Remedy Pilates and Massage in Scottsdale, One day I was sitting at Starbucks and decided to pull up my business’ Yelp account. I had not been on Yelp for a while, so I took a minute to read through our reviews (which typically make me smile). That’s when I saw it: a bad review. And not only a bad review but one written by a client who had recently signed up for a membership and was coming in all the time.
This was what she wrote:
“2 Stars: They are just OK, not impressed…they have canceled approx 3 or 4 times in a 2 week period. They are nice about apologizing but still it is an inconvenience when you schedule and they offer that you take another class that you are not really interested in.”
As an owner, it felt awful. I pride myself on being dependable and reliable and I value my clients’ time as much as I expect them to value mine.
A FEW BUMPS IN THE ROAD
At the time, we had recently expanded our studio space to add group classes. We had a limited schedule and had hired new instructors specifically to teach the new classes. Unfortunately, in our discovery phase, we had a lot of class cancellations, instructor no-shows and some general issues that were not the norm for our business. I was aware that this particular client had been put through the wringer, as I was one of the people apologizing and offering alternatives every time her class was called off. Before I saw the review, I had already offered her a Pilates session in lieu of her canceled TRX class, so she was already feeling better about the studio at that point.
A CALL TO ACTION
After I read her post, I reached out via phone. I let her know that I had seen her Yelp review and wanted to rectify any negative perception immediately. I gave her my personal contact information and assured her that making her happy was a priority for me and she could reach out to me anytime.
OUTCOME: The client eventually took the review down. She started attending one of my Pilates classes. Once she tried it, she loved it, and now she comes two to three times a week. Meanwhile, we have ironed out the kinks in our group-fitness scheduling system. Turning a.
Situation Around Owner: Holly Furgason of Blue Sparrow Pilates in San Francisco and Oakland.
Recently I received negative feedback from a client who had been with us for a few months. She first posted a review on Yelp, then she emailed it to me, saying she felt bad Yelping it, so took the review down, which was very kind of her—and unusual.
She said that she liked the Pilates instruction and studio; however, she wrote, she would not be coming back because of the
way we handled class cancellations for under¬enrolled group classes. At the time, our policy was to cancel a class 24 hours in advance if only one person was enrolled. This client was very consistent and came to the same class every week, though others in the class attended more sporadically.
PICK UP THE PHONE
I called her on the phone after I got her email. I don’t think emailing her would have been helpful in this situation because you can’t get a true read on the person’s feelings in an email (i.e., are they really angry or just annoyed). I listened to what she had to say, told her I appreciated the feedback and said that I would get back in touch. I didn’t offer an immediate solution, because I honestly didn’t have one; I understood her perspective but needed to come up with a solution that also protected my business.
She still was not happy with the situation, but she seemed to see both sides better after we spoke. Often people just want to be heard.
Outcome: We implemented a new policy: We assess enrollment over a quarter and only keep classes on the schedule that on average meet our minimum requirement to run a class. Not only has the reviewer been coming every week but also in dealing with this complaint, I believe I have saved other clients from experiencing the same dissatisfaction.
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