As nice as it would be to always please everybody with your business services, it just isn’t going to happen. Sooner or later, you’re going to encounter someone who isn’t pleased, and they’re going to have the capability to do some damage to your reputation. Fortunately, there is a way you can mitigate this damage.
The first thing you need to remember is that, while your unhappy customer or client may not be correct, they are always right. What does this mean? Simple - even if they misinterpreted what they were entitled to through your services, you have the obligation to make them happy. This is not to say that you kowtow to every demand a customer makes, regardless of how ludicrous it is… you just need to make sure they stay happy.
How can you do this? It all boils down to communication.
Chances are, you’re going to find out that a client was unhappy by reading a review that they leave somewhere online - perhaps on Facebook, or on Google, or on a third-party review website. What they will have to say may upset you. That’s fine. Nobody likes to hear that there is something wrong with one of their endeavors. You have every right to be a little upset - just don’t let that upset seep into your conversation with your unhappy client.
After all, in their eyes, they have every right to be upset as well.
Therefore, once you’ve regained a cooler composure, you need to respond directly and politely to the negative review. While this initial interaction should be public, offer to continue your conversation in a less public way, in an offline forum. If the reviewer accepts, try to come to a mutually beneficial compromise with them. This will help to insulate you from a rash decision.
This brings up another important point - while you may really want to, you should never just remove a negative review. Not only will that make it look like you are hiding something (not good), it also squanders the opportunity to make lemonade out of your reviewer’s lemons. Again, try to make whatever issue your reviewer had right, and ask them to revise their review once things have been settled. If you play your cards right, the result could be a much better review, describing the care you put into fixing their issue.
Whenever they are, you have another opportunity to embrace by responding to them.
I can almost hear you now: “Wait, if a reviewer is happy, doesn’t that mean I’ve done what I had to do?”
In a way, yes. If someone is willing to leave a positive review of your services, you clearly were able to strike a chord with them. However, while responding to a negative review could be somewhat accurately seen as damage control, responding to a positive review has a very different motivation to it.
Look at it this way: anyone who is willing to take the time out of their day to speak highly of you online is an invaluable ally to have. Positive reviews and negative reviews are very different things, especially in that people are generally more inclined to leave negative feedback if they have the opportunity.
Reflecting on this, it only makes sense to take the time and respond to positive reviews as well. A positive review is more or less a confirmation of a successful onboarding process - to keep these contacts engaged, you need to continue communicating with them beyond the point that their invoice is settled.
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Seán is the Managing Director at Aniar IT Services and has been working in IT for over 20 years
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