There’s no such thing as bad publicity
‘‘The best pizza in town!’’
‘‘Punctual, great service, value for money.’’
‘‘My lawn has never looked so good! Highly recommended.’’
A good recommendation is a small business’ best friend. But what used to be based on who you know is now far more widespread thanks to the internet. The everincreasing popularity of social media and review sites makes it even easier for consumers to tell the world how great their favourite businesses are.
Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. When a small business doesn’t meet expectations, it doesn’t take long before an entire community knows about it.
Social media makes it easy for people to discover great local businesses based on their neighbours’ recommendations. But what if feedback about your business is negative?
‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’ couldn’t be truer for small businesses.
Believe it or not, bad recommendations don’t have to equal bad business. In fact, they actually offer a unique opportunity.
But we’re much more likely to remember a bad review than a good one, so if you’re keen to turn a less than rosy recommendation into something positive, read on:
1. Don’t delete comments. If there’s one thing that annoys customers more than a bad experience, it’s having their reviews removed from the public eye. Deleting comments, even if they paint you in a bad light, makes it look like you’ve got something to hide. Thank the writer for their message, let them know you’d like to rectify the situation and then suggest taking the conversation offline. Ask them to send you a private message or give them your customer service email address.
2. Respond politely and professionally. Be humble and open and always be professional. Keep the conversation civil, even if your customer is getting angry, and always take the moral highground. Remember, this is your reputation at stake, and if you’ve already got negative feedback against your name you need to work hard to correct prospective customers’ perception of you.
3. The customer is always right – even if they’re wrong. Never point the finger, even if you’re not to blame. Sure, they may have been the one who got their booking times mixed up or didn’t read the conditions properly, but if their network is big it could be you who bears the brunt of the situation.
4. Go out of your way to make amends. Even the most disgruntled customer will appreciate a business that goes the extra mile to right a wrong. Send the complainant a discount voucher for their next visit (don’t tell them to mention their experience next time though – make it as easy as possible!), a gift or something for free. If it really has been a terrible experience, a partial or full refund wouldn’t go amiss either. Whatever you choose to do, make it your mission to turn your customer’s frown, upside down. Turning a bad experience into a good one is a sure-fire way of retaining existing customers and attracting new ones.
A lawn well done is the best advert a contractor can hope for. But the opposite can be true if the job isn’t done right.