No business likes to get a negative review, but the reality is, no business is perfect. Even companies known for having exceptional customer service will occasionally receive a negative review from time to time.
When you receive a negative review, it is key to learn from the experience. Martin Bomba, the co-owner of Window World TX (4.5 rating based on 251 Google reviews), is one of the best at turning a negative review into a teachable moment for his company and a positive experience for his customers. As the leading Window World franchise in the nation, Martin and his team know how to win customers over during tough situations. We want to share some of Martin's expertise with you, so here’s a quick conversation we had about learning from negative reviews.
Question 1: What's the hardest part of receiving a negative review?
Martin: It's never easy to hear criticism, but if it is a legitimate complaint or issue, it can be a learning experience. Because there are a few mean-spirited reviews that are not legitimate, it's sometimes tempting to discount all reviews as "customers that are impossible to please." The hardest part for me is learning that we did not perform up to a customer’s satisfaction and to our own expectations.
Question 2: What are some of the things you've learned about your business after receiving a legitimate negative review?
Martin: We have learned several important lessons through negative reviews. We have learned that there are processes that could have been better, communication that could have been more effective and quality control that could have been better.
Question 3: What changes have you made based off these lessons?
Martin: After these reviews, we have taken steps to improve interoffice communication - as well as communication with the customer. We have also created positions to help ensure quality control and a smooth process after the sale, up to installation completion.
Question 4: What's your best advice for other business owners when a legitimate negative review shows something isn't working the way they think it is?
Martin: My first piece of advice is don't procrastinate. A negative review is not like a fine wine - it does not improve with age. Respond to a negative review within 24 hours, if possible. When responding to a negative review, do not take it personally. Being rude, defensive or aggressive in a response does not reflect well on you or your company. Be humble and helpful in your response. Take responsibility if the issue was your company's fault. Offer a clear solution to the issue, and follow through with that plan in a timely fashion. Lastly, when the promised solution is delivered, politely ask if the customer will consider revising their review.
How to Ask For Review Revisions
Martin's advice on asking for a review revision after an issue has been resolved is key to reputation management. Here's how to ask for review revision in more detail:
- Respond quickly – As soon as a negative review is posted, Martin and Leadhub connect to begin working on a strategy to respond to the situation. A safe window for responding to reviews is 24 hours, especially negative reviews.
- Don’t take it personally – This is where having a reputation management specialist helps a business owner. As Martin says, it’s hard to bite your tongue or admit you were wrong – especially when a customer was rude or not 100% truthful in the review. Some third-party assistance can help bring perspective to the situation – and ideally, prevent the situation from becoming worse.
- Take responsibility in legitimate reviews – In the event that fault genuinely lies with your company, it is important to take responsibility rather than to go on the defense. This practice shows that you are willing to listen and communicate with your customer base. Owning mistakes not only makes them feel heard, but shows your willingness to take responsibility when the situation warrants and make things right.
- Smooth things out with the customer after the solution has been delivered – After posting a response, it’s usually best to take the conversation offline as quickly as possible. In situations such as these, having a spoken conversation with the customer is a proven method for finding the best solution for both parties and is most likely to lead to an amicable resolution. If you and the customer are able to reach a solution that both parties can agree on, you can ask them to update their review to reflect the outcome. One of Window World TX’s most glowing reviews on Google came from what was originally a 1-star review. That’s the goal.
We want to thank Martin for sharing his advice on this topic. It’s not easy for business owners to talk about negative reviews, but they’re a fact of life for every company. Hopefully, you can turn those experiences into teachable moments to improve your operations and customer service.
For more tips on reputation management, check out part one of the series, Top 5 Mistakes You Can Make While Managing Your Online Reputation.