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Addressing Bad Reviews

Last week my sisters, their spouses, and my wife and I spread my mother’s ashes at one of her favorite places in the world--the beach at Avalon, New Jersey. To get to the beach, my wife and I drove from Durham, North Carolina to Avalon, a distance of 440 miles.

As I drive an EV, I spent some time planning my route, including where I would charge the car. Part of the planning included reading reviews of the various charging sites. None of the sites got good reviews. Many respondents talked of inoperable chargers and incredibly slow charging speeds. Indeed the reviews were so bad, I thought of renting an ICE (internal combustion engine) car for the trip.

My wife suggested we take the EV and consider any charging mishaps an adventure. So off we went. We stopped for 4 charges, two on the way to Jersey and two on the way home. We had no problems at any of the stations including the one with the most pathetic reviews.

As leaders, it seems we are at the mercy of poor reviews even if they do not reflect reality. What is a business to do?

One thing is to ask satisfied customers to write reviews. I get annoyed when I am constantly accosted by vendors to give them a five star review. However, I understand the imperative of having good reviews to counteract the poor ones. I also believe a gentle reminder that current and potential customers rely on reviews seems reasonable.

Another is to respond to negative reviews. In my experience, the best way to respond is not to argue with the review but rather to apologize that the customer did not have the experience that your company strives to provide and suggest they contact you so you can make it right. Such a response sends the message to readers that you care about customers and are willing to address concerns in a proactive way.

Finally, and most importantly, continue to offer an excellent service or product. Ultimately, the best comment is word of mouth. If your current customers are raving about you, they will attract new customers for you.

One of the disadvantages of the social media age is that everyone has a megaphone; don’t let those who misuse it drive you too crazy.


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