Design a site like this with
Get started

Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Or is it?

As a strategic communicator working at a business that depends on social media and other digital platforms to bring in business, you might find yourself dealing with bad reviews as a result of unhappy clients. No matter how hard you try to be the best customer service provider, there is bound to be someone who is unhappy and takes to the Internet to voice their grievances. Because of platforms like Facebook Reviews, Yelp, Google Reviews, and the cell phone that allows encounters to be recorded, customers have the opportunity to rate and oftentimes berate businesses and its employees. Tim Leberecht, a self-proclaimed “business romantic” was right when he said in his TED Talk that companies are losing control and they should consider accepting it. People will talk about you and your brand and there’s nothing you can do about it. Or is it?

Some unhappy customers can get pretty irate. But it doesn’t seem to happen in person as much as it happens online. I refer to the angry online posters as “keyboard warriors”. I guess if you’re happy, you don’t think about going online to post a review. But if you’re upset about the service you received, one of the first places you might go is Facebook or Google to let the world know what a terrible company you’ve just dealt with. As the marketing manager at my company, I am responsible for reviewing the comments left by customers. Needless to say there have been some interesting ones. Here are a few scenarios (and real-life situations) that have stood out to me over the years:

The “I Made it Up Customer”: This customer sat in our customer lounge and waited for his vehicle’s service and maintenance to be completed. He previously talked with the service advisor who laid out the plans and he agreed to the terms. But he went to the lounge and posted an unfavorable review online. Our service advisor marched right into the lounge and confronted him about the bad review. The guy apologized and promised to remove the review, but he never did.  

The “That’s Not Exactly What Happened Customer”: This is the type of customer review I see the most. A customer complains online that we didn’t do something when said we would do. One review stated: “Supposed to get my hood fixed, and painted, they didn’t fix the grill or get the hood painted, won’t be back.” And you guessed it, that’s not exactly what happened. We don’t even paint at our business. Let’s say we had planned to contract the work out to another company. Well, when our service advisor offered to have a shop foreman look at the hood with him and discuss it, he refused, left the store, and complained online instead.

The “I’m Gonna Scream Until I Get a Discount Customer”: This is another popular customer we have that tends to post unfavorable reviews. This customer goes online to complain that they were overcharged or that we did not perform the services we said we would. Despite having paid their bill, the customer will still go online to bash our company. But we have to stand firm when it comes to pricing and remain confident in our work.  

The “I Overreacted Customer”: This one is a doozy. I recently received a notification with this review. (We’ll leave the name out to protect the guilty.) “By far the worst experience I’ve ever had buying a truck!! Almost like pulling teeth to get the salesman to do his job!! I purchased a 2020 glider a month ago, I wish I didn’t from these guys. Hands down (XX XXX) is the worst salesman I ever had any dealings with. From commercial vehicles to 4 wheelers. I never had any issues like I did with him! I wish I could give no stars!”

Wow. Here’s the problem. This particular salesman drove almost four hours to meet this customer and made sure he had everything he needed. I don’t know how many salespeople would do that. Once the sales manager spoke to the customer about this online review, he determined what was at the heart of the problem. He was upset that the salesman did not bring him a second set of keys. That’s it. This rant was over a second set of keys. The sales manager promised to get him a second key in the mail and the customer followed up by removing the review, calling him a “great guy”, and stating that we were “good people to work with on purchasing a truck.”

These are just a few types of customers that have posted reviews to my company’s online platforms. We have many others with different situations. Now, my company does receive positive reviews and we appreciate the people who take the time to post them. But how do you handle the bad ones? We can’t just ignore them. I take the company’s online reputation seriously. When I am alerted to a bad review, I send it to the appropriate manager who then contacts the customers – if we were given their real name. Most of the time it can be worked out over the phone. But when we are dealing with a fake name or unable to contact the customer, I will personally write a note under the review expressing the desire to resolve the problem. I’ll leave a name and phone number for the customer to reach us. Rarely do we get a response. But my hope is that potential customers see that we are making an effort to resolve the issue.

What I’ve learned is that customers want companies to listen to them. Listened to – not just heard. They want to feel like they are valued and appreciated. And I do not feel that is too much to ask considering they are forking over their hard earned money to our businesses. When companies take that extra step and interact with the customer, the outcome is pleasant (most of the time). Although a company might operate in a brick and mortar building, its online reputation can keep a potential customer from entering your business. People rely on the opinions of others to choose where they’ll do business. Companies have to keep their online reputation intact. Their bottom line depends on it. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: