How to handle negative reviews - book from Jay BaerIt’s hard to believe, but it was over 2 years ago that we wrote this blog post about embracing negative reviews. We focused on 4 major areas:

  1. It’s easier to keep an existing customer than gain a new one
  2. Timing matters
  3. It’s about conversations
  4. It differentiates your business

I was pleased to read this interview with Jay Baer, who is a NY Times best selling author and recently published Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers. The book looks fantastic and happily he echoes a lot of what we wrote about over two years ago with respect to handling negative reviews. He also mentions some other great data and tips from that interview:

  • Speed and empathy are important. But don’t make the customer switch channels. We highlighted speed as a key attribute in our post, but didn’t focus on empathy, which is so critical. It’s so easy to take negative feedback personally, especially when you and your business are so intimately linked. But first step is to always put yourself in the other person’s shoes – if you had their experience, how would you feel? Take as much of the personal nature out of it – think of it as you’re consulting a friend and it’s their business and they got this feedback. The point about switching channels is great – it’s hard for small business owners to be current on all the tech out there, so if you want to get feedback primarily from one channel, promote it. My only suggestion on his comment was he was suggesting not to ask for a call in response to a Facebook post. For small and local businesses, you’re biggest differentiation is that you are local and personal. So, I would still respond on the same channel where the feedback was left (as Jay suggests), but in that response I would suggest the customer come by in person and/or call. That personal touch is something your big box competitors can’t do as easily.
  • Answer all your feedback – I believe that Jay is referring to negative feedback, but I’ll go a step further and suggest you answer every piece of feedback, positive or negative. This does two things. First, it shows you are paying attention to everything that your customers say. You may think you don’t have time to do this, but I’ll suggest this is the most effective marketing you could ever do, so either make the time, or pay somebody to respond to your positive feedback, and you focus on the negative. Secondly, it gives you a chance to put more content online that describes what you do and what makes you great. That is good for your Local SEO! Think of your responses as a mini-blog post. Instead of having to write original content on your own, use your customer’s own feedback to generate new content.
  • If you keep getting the same negative feedback, there’s a good reason – It’s tough to be told we aren’t perfect. But there’s a big difference between that demanding customer that won’t be happy no matter what you do and the customers that tell you that the same thing is wrong. When I speak with local business owners, they almost always tell me a story about the former type of customer, and they use that as the reason they don’t want to do online feedback. But the best businesses tell me about the latter type of customer, and how they made a positive change to their business based on prioritizing critical feedback.

This book is at the top of my reading pile, I’m sure it will be great! If you are small business owner I suggest you pick add it to your reading list as well.