The busiest sales week has come and gone. And in its wake, you may have landed a bad review or two. Take it in stride — with an influx of non-regular customers, many of whom waited until the last minute to order, yet expected a vast selection and immediate delivery, someone is bound to complain. At the same time, it’s important to respond to criticism (and correct mistakes) quickly.
“Reading a negative review about your company can feel like a punch to the gut,” said Megan Krause, senior editor of Vertical Measures, a Phoenix-based digital marketing agency. “But once you get over the initial impact, there are lessons to be learned and a silver lining or two.”
For instance, the more reviews you have (good or bad), the higher your Google ranking. Furthermore, feedback draws your attention to problems in your business and gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to service.
Here are some best practices for handling online reviews and protecting your shop’s reputation.
Monitor your social media channels. It’s not all about Yelp and Google. Disgruntled customers have lots of options to air their grievances. Check every place you have an online presence, including Facebook.
Answer promptly and succinctly. In last year’s Floral Management, Manny Gonzalez, then owner of Tiger Lily Florist in Charleston, South Carolina, advocated for a speedy response kept short to avoid sounding defensive. His formula: apologize, thank them for the feedback, ask for details and offer a solution.
Stay Positive. Keep your tone upbeat, even if the review is scathing. Express gratitude for the customer’s comments and respond with civility, being sure to say that you take feedback seriously and will do what it takes to mend the relationship and offer assistance to fix the situation.
Ask for Specifics. If the review did not explicitly say, ask the customer to spell out what went wrong. Remember, this makes you aware of processes you should change in the future to make your customers happy. With this info, offer a brief explanation that shows the flub wasn’t “business as usual” (example: you got the recipient’s address wrong, road closures delayed deliveries).
Offer a Resolution. When in doubt, ask the customer how you can fix the situation. Some people want a new arrangement, others prefer a refund and some just want acknowledgment. Accept their answer graciously and do your best to solve the problem so that the purchaser will come back again despite the mishap.
Empower Your Staff. Words no customer wants to hear: That’s not my responsibility. In New York City, Nic Faitos, president of Starbright Floral Design makes sure that every employee, from designer to delivery driver, knows he or she has the power — and the duty — to remedy any conflict. A written protocol for handling mistakes helps employees think on their feet.
Evaluate the Naysayers. Not all reviewers are legitimate. The Internet is full of trolls. A few years ago, a Twitter user, “Thuggy-D,” engaged in a now-infamous exchange with Wendy’s. He was just a bully looking to incite some online drama. Click on reviewers’ profiles. Notice countless instances of them picking on other businesses? Do not engage. Move on to focus on to those you can convert into repeat customers.
Mackenzie Nichols is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.