How to deal with a bad client review
A bad review from a disgruntled client can have a catastrophic effect on an accountancy firm. But there are other ways of dealing with this than begging the client to remove it.
Ping! An alert pops up on your screen. Amid the usual daily onslaught of messages and push notifications, this one grabs your attention. You open it up and your heart sinks. Someone has left you a one-star review on a review site.
Your stomach flips and your mind swirls with an anxiety-induced fog; you have so many questions. Who? How? Why?
You’re desperately trying to read the review but the words are blurring together as you panic and catastrophise the situation – “this is it” your brains tells you, “my business is ruined!”.
Sound familiar? If it does then don’t worry, you’re not alone.
In today’s world people can play it fast and loose with their feedback. If they’ve got a complaint (legitimate or otherwise), there are myriad ways that they can voice their displeasure.
Gone are the days of writing a strongly worded letter to the manager. Nowadays we take to Twitter, or a Facebook page or any one of a variety of review sites. If you’ve got an axe to grind then all it takes is a few clicks and a couple of sentences and you can let the whole world know your feelings about a company. If you’re feeling really vengeful you can copy and paste that review to several places across the web in a few minutes.
There isn’t any decent-sized business out there who hasn’t had to deal with an unhappy customer. And increasingly, you’ll have to deal with what those customers say about you in a very public setting.
Rightly or wrongly, nowadays it’s par for the course. Naively I used to believe that simply being good at what you did would protect you from negative reviews, but as I have become wisened and older I realise how foolish that opinion was – especially in an arena where you may have to be the messenger for the foibles of HMRC.
Of course, if you spend enough time on review sites you can see certain patterns emerge. People who are happy enough with things tend not to review it. It’s those that are ecstatic, incentivised or annoyed that are inclined to leave the reviews. A little browse around TripAdvisor always throws up some gems.
“It took nine hours for our flight to get from the UK to Antigua but the Americans at our resort said it took them just three.” – moans one unhappy customer.
“There was no sign telling you that you shouldn’t get on the hot air balloon ride if you’re afraid of heights.” – writes another consumer.
While reviews like those are good for a giggle, it’s also worth noting that those one star reviews have skewed a business’s Net Promoter Score. Maybe not by much if you’re a huge company with thousands of good reviews; but if you have only collected 10 reviews so far and one is bad, it can mess with your figures and have an impact on the purchasing decisions of future customers.
So if it happens to you, what do you do?
First of all, don’t panic. While your inclination might be to find the customer and beg them to remove it, that strategy rarely works. In doing that you’re not addressing the issue and it makes it look like you’re trying to censor people. There is a much better way of dealing with it.
- Publicly reply. Address the issues in the review and if appropriate, say you are looking into them.
- Follow up with the customer. Contact them privately to let them know that you value their feedback and would like the opportunity to improve things.
- Follow through. If you said you’d take an action then make sure you do it when you said you would and feed it back to the customer. They might not change their rating or review for you, but they’ll at least see that you care about them.
- Own it. No business is perfect and everyone makes mistakes.
- Learn from it. Chalk it up to experience and try to improve if there is anything your end that needs addressing.
If you ever get a review in error (it happens) then you can contact the review site to get it moderated or removed, but that can take time. In all instances, a public reply is necessary – even if it’s to say that you think they have the wrong business or aren’t a customer!
Even though a one-star review might feel like a blot on your report card and a black mark against your name, just remember that it’s not the end of the world as long as you deal with it professionally. Even 17% of Trustpilot’s scores on their own site are one star!
A final thought on the reviews culture is to have a good communication strategy with your clients. If they feel that they can come to you first and foremost without resorting to a public review, you’ll hopefully be able to resolve any issues they have before they feel angry enough to go public.
And in the interests of karma, I always try to leave positive reviews for companies who have served me well. Trying to get people to review things that they are satisfied with is really hard. So having experienced both sides of the coin, I try to pay it forward a little in my own life.
Most small businesses are just out here trying to make a living after all.