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How to Answer an Angry One Star Review

Online Reviews.

Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, Local Search Directories like City Search…there are lots of opportunities for your customers to share their first, 3rd or last impression of your business. These can be extremely helpful for a few reasons:

  1. Correct misinformation.
  2. Demonstrate you’re listening and you care
  3. Find out and address issues before they become ISSUES
  4. Mend current and future customer relationships in a public forum.

After my last blog on a customer experience, and the subsequent exchange with the owner (collected in The Upsell Society Facebook group), I was approached by Neal Cropper who owns a great local pet store named Growlies for Pets. He wanted to show me, from what I could see, his first one star review on his company Facebook page.

It’s a great opportunity to look at an angry review and how to respond.

Customer relationship

So at face value, that looks pretty bad. There’s a lot of anger in this post and I can imagine it would probably freak out a lot of business owners. What do we do? Should we leave this on our Facebook page? What if someone sees it? I mean, look at those first and last sentences and their pretty specific direction to future customers and on future success of the business. But, what I found most interesting for a person that upset, is that it had no specifics. Nothing in this review specifies a particular wrong or detailed event. With no examples, the one thing they do point to is how “rude” the business is and their “maliciousness”. I’m sure both are true from this person’s experience but they are also very subjective. One person’s “rude” is another person’s “getting to the point”. So, nothing specific to address here other than lots of emotion.

Here was Neal’s response:

Neal answered not knowing what the incident was or how it came about and he still did a lot of things right here.

  • Empathy – he demonstrated shock and remorse that this was the customer’s experience. No accusations or defensiveness, just recognition of their feelings and disappointment that Growlies would have anything to do with it.
  • Readily contactable – immediately, Neal put himself out there as available. Not to a phone tree or an assistant but a direct line to the man in charge.
  • Learning opportunity – though the incident remains a mystery from the customer’s complaint, Growlies shows they are interested in an open conversation to dig into this problem and try to make sure it never happens again.
  • Apology – He said “sorry”. And meant it. No qualifiers. No buts. A straight up, sincere sorry.

About half an hour later (the only reason the timestamp is earlier is due to the EDIT Neal made in the first post), things got interesting.

Facebook customer service one star review

So this wasn’t actually a customer service complaint at all.

It was just someone not getting what they wanted, not matter how inappropriate, and taking their frustrations out to hurt the business. Kinda gross.

Of course in most instances, a customer service complaint wouldn’t lead to this outcome. As much as I’m sure some businesses would like it to not be something they did or didn’t do. But, in this case, Neal did a great job not only addressing the “customer” (love air quotes when they’re used properly) but also informing future readers/customers on the Facebook page what really happened.

  • He summarized the story, sticking to the facts as his staff relayed to him.
  • He didn’t make it personal or emotional. No blame game here.
  • He explained why he and his staff made the decision they did. In a nutshell: safety.
  • He requested an update to the one-star review in light of these new details.

There are so many opportunities for customers to share their feedback about their customer experience. And there are as many opportunities for organizations to respond to that feedback, not only to the customer specifically but everyone else that reads those reviews to form an impression of the business. Make sure your business doesn’t miss those opportunities to build better customer relationships.
Even if they’re trying to use your store as a back door to get into someone’s home. (And please do like Growlies and don’t let them).

Thanks to Growlies for letting me share their story.

And if you’re picking up what I’m putting down, please sign up to The Upsell Society Newsletter for more tips, ideas and exclusive content.

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