When you get behind a computer, you can feel invincible. Social media, and now social distancing, have only added to this phenomenon,. We’re talking about the powerful notion of “taking it to the internet,” also known as online reviews.
Many of us base our decisions on online reviews when deciding on restaurants and purchases, often taking the reviewers (who are total strangers) at their word. What we don’t know is the details that surround the ability of one person’s “poor experience” or what the company may have done to alleviate the situation. Let’s face it, some folks just have an ax to grind. Here is what you should know both as a business owner and a patron.
Patrons: Do Unto Others
Nobody likes to hear the words “I was disappointed.” Those three words from a customer are like nails on a chalkboard to the ear of a business owner. In most cases, owners and managers will want to do whatever they can to satisfy an unhappy customer.
It’s important to remember that if you have a complaint about an experience, social media and the internet aren’t the only ways to voice your displeasure. In fact, a phone call is less likely to get lost in translation and will often lead to a quicker resolution. If someone is unhappy with something you have done, you would undoubtedly prefer that they let you know directly, as opposed to broadcasting their displeasure to the world. Keep that in mind when you have a complaint.
We experienced a pandemic that forced us to rely on delivery and curbside pick-up for items we would normally shop for in person. As a community, we did an incredible job rallying to adjust to unprecedented changes, but that may have also meant cutting others some slack.
For example, if you order a takeout meal and it isn’t ready at the exact time specified, it’s good to remember that everyone is struggling with new ways of doing business. Things won’t always go perfectly as planned. Posting a review that blasts the restaurant is counterproductive and does not tell the full story. Someone looking back at your review a year from now might believe the establishment is lacking in service without knowing the extenuating circumstances.
Business Owners: Take it with a Grain of “Salt”
As an agency, we are tasked with helping customers respond to unsatisfied customers, so we can see both sides. There are some customers with a “Veruca Salt” mentality. This spoiled and demanding brat in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory wanted what she wanted when she wanted it, including a goose that laid golden eggs. Frankly, some customers will never be satisfied, but in general, most people are fairly reasonable.
It’s true that with online reviews and social media, customers can be extra harsh in their criticisms as they feel relatively anonymous behind their computers. When possible, it’s best to take these conversations offline, but you’ll want to show publicly that you responded and hopefully resolved the issue.
If you have a dissatisfied customer, first listen without interrupting. As hard as criticism can be to hear, it can provide a valuable learning experience. Try to get all the information, then reiterate back what you heard, so the customer feels understood.
The next step is service recovery, and this can run the gamut. In some, the customer just wants to be heard, so listening and letting them know what steps you will take to correct the issue may be all that is required. In other situations, you may need to make good of a bad situation by removing a charge or providing credit toward a future visit.
Regardless of how you ultimately address the situation, thank the customer for sharing their concerns with you. If one customer has a complaint, it’s possible others have experienced the same issue, but simply stopped their patronage without telling you why. This could be an opportunity to rectify a situation that has been costing you business.
Need help with your social media or online reputation management? Give us a call.