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April 18th, 2018

Today’s blog/video is all about how to handle a bad review and what you can learn from Dominos in how they handled some pretty harsh criticism.

Whether it’s happened to you yet or not as a business owner, knowing how to handle a bad review is imperative to keeping your reputation in check. With the plethora of online platforms for reading reviews, disgruntled clients can leave a really bad mark on your business in front of thousands of people with just a few strokes of the keyboard. So you have got to know how to deal with reviews in the way that shines a positive light on your business. Whether it’s on Facebook, Google, Yelp, or any other platform, make sure that you’re tracking everywhere and anywhere someone could be leaving a review of your practice. It is hard to get a grip on a bad situation if you don’t even know that there is one.

First thing’s first, always reply to every single review! Positive or negative, you need to reply. If it’s positive, great! Say a big thank you, tell them how much you appreciate their loyalty to your establishment and how much you are looking forward to their next visit. But the negative is what you really want to focus on today. So when you come across that negative review do not I repeat do not reply immediately. Give yourself some time. If you jump right back in and reply, you’re probably going to be defensive, which does not look good OR you are going to over apologize and sound like you really really screwed up, not good either. So instead of flying off the handle, take a little time. Read it and walk away. Mull it over, get some outside perspective, and overall just take your time in constructing a reply Because this should not be a simple act. It needs to be calculated.

There’s a few things to take into consideration in how to structure your reply. Now remember the customer is not always right. But neither are you. You have to be able to step out of your own ego and look at things that you may have done wrong. That’s part of taking the time to construct a reply. Our ego is the first thing that jumps out when we’ve been criticized so we get defensive, but if we give ourselves time to be introspective, we can see where we may have fallen short and can come to a much more mature and professional realization about how to handle situation or a bad review. So here’s the 4 parts to piece together a professional reply…

#1 Admit That you Screwed up and Apologize:

Be honest with yourself. If you were running behind and got them started late, own up to it. If you double booked somehow, admit it. Owning up to your own mistakes or your own deficiency in some way is the first step in respecting and validating their stance and their feelings about the situation.

#2 Don’t Make Excuses but Explain the Situation.

You don’t want to wallow in a big story of whatever led to that crappy situation. No need to go on and on about how you’ve had this or that family drama. Or whatever the case may be. That’s not their concern and it doesn’t matter. You are the professional you are expected to act like it and leave that personal stuff at the door even though we all know that may not be possible all the time. Simply state that yes you screwed up, and here’s why. If you double booked, it may have been a technical issue, or you may have simply forgot to put something in your schedule. Say so. When you can be adult enough to admit when you’ve screwed up and not make excuses but just explain the facts of what happened, You’ll be taken much more seriously. Commit to improving. You always want to show that you will learn from this situation and grow as a professional. You may even be specific if you double booked, you can say that you’re switching your scheduling system to a new platform to prevent anything like this from ever happening in the future. When they can see that you’re taking the initiative to not only remedy what happened with them, but prevent it from happening to anyone else as well, They’re going to trust that you really do care about the client experience, and you’re committed to taking criticism’s heart and learning from it.

#3 Don’t be Defensive but Call-Out BS When Needed

Now let’s get one thing straight, if the bad review is BS, call it out. I see all the time therapists saying they’ve had bad reviews left by people who never even came to their business. I had that happen myself. Some random person found my business Facebook page and left a one star review because she disagreed with something I said in a comment on a random post from somebody that was totally unrelated to my business. Thankfully, when I reported that to Facebook saying the person had never done business with me, they took it down so it didn’t hurt my view rating. Now, if it’s a different situation where the person is just one of those that isn’t pleased by anything anyone ever does, like the client who gets mad that you don’t give them a discount just because of their awesomeness, at least in their mind or the client who is upset that you cut their time short despite them being 20 minutes late to their appointment. Well, call them out. Don’t be an ass about it. You still have to be professional, but you can state the facts very clearly. Agree that yes, their time was cut short because they arrived late and you had another client right after . It wouldn’t be fair to put all your other client 20 minutes behind just because they couldn’t show up on time. Again, state it professionally but don’t be afraid to call out some BS when you see it.

#4 Invite Back or Offer Some Sort of Compensation

Lastly, if you want the client back If you’re really trying to remedy the situation, ask them to come back and give you another try. You may even offer a discount or completely professional depending on how bad you screwed up. When you express that you want to show them you’ve learned from the situation and you improve things based on what they’ve told you, they’ll feel validated and like you really truly do care about pleasing your client. Then once you’ve gotten them back in and you’ve wowed them and you remedied the whole thing, ask them to go back in and update their review with their most recent experience. When people read their initial complaint, read your reply to it, then see that they did take you up on it, went back and were then pleased with everything, your great reputation is really solidified. So let’s look at Dominos for a quick second. Dominos wasn’t exactly known for having good pizza for a long time. But they rebranded in the sense of their core mission and revamped their recipes and everything to make it better and it really was. So take a look at this commercial they ran, I think this was back in 2009 or sometime around there, but take a look at how they portrayed their own screw up and how they won customers back. You can see how they owned up to their own mistakes learned from them, grew, and made things better And in the process convinced a lot of not so happy customers to come back and try them again. They even made it part of this big turnaround marketing campaign We can take some notes from them and apply even to our small practice and a not so-great yelp review,ok?

Now, let’s talk for just a quick second about preventing bad reviews. A bad experience for a client should be caught before they leave and have the ability to leave a review. So pay attention to how a client is acting before they leave. Their verbal and non-verbal cues can tell you a lot about what’s going on in their head. And for the love of all that is holy, please explain your policies and procedures when they book an appointment. And no, even with online booking. Some people do not pay attention to all that stuff you email to them, like the fact that they need to come 15 minutes before their appointment time, or there will be paperwork to fill out those sorts of things so be sure that you’re spelling this stuff out for them several times. And maybe even work in an extra few minutes for all of your new clients in case someone doesn’t know this is their first time. Remember, clients can’t read your mind and they may not know how this stuff works, so you have to spell it out for them. We tend to have this curse of knowledge, like everyone knows to show up a little bit early to fill out paperwork the first visit, or that if they’re getting Thai massage they need to wear comfortable, movable clothing or whatever the case may be for your practice. You have to think of this stuff from an outside perspective.

So, I hope this gives you some insight into how to handle a bad review and if you’ve had one of those recently and you’re struggling with how to reply, let me know in the comments and I will help you apply these five concepts into your response.

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