The heart-sinking feeling of receiving a bad review. The words wash over me, makes my blood run cold, and my heart sinks to my toes.
My face flushes. I want to hide. I want to run. I want to cry.
Is there truth in this?? Or did this person have a bad day, a bad month or even a bad year?
What can I say? Should I ignore it? Run away? Fight? Defend myself?
It's happened to all of us (and if it hasn't happened to you, it will). It's part of owning a business.
When you serve the public, you're sure to tick off the public, too.
Even if you are trying your hardest...doing your best...working all hours of the day and night...
even if you are pouring out your heart and soul...
Someone is bound to NOT be happy with your services.
So what do you do??
1. Push your emotions aside. This is business. Even if they are irrational and accusing, YOU have to stay calm.
Pull up all the logic you can and be the bigger person. Keep a level head, even if you are feeling crushed, embarrassed, and defensive.
2. Apologize. What can you take ownership of? What can you genuinely apologize for so the person feels heard? Whether it's a red-faced angry client in your lobby, a scathing email, a ranting phone call, or a public 1-star review, FIND what you can apologize for. People just want to be acknowledged and listened to. It's your job to NOT be argumentative. Instead, do what you can to admit where the wrong took place.
3. Refund. There's nothing more powerful than a full refund. It will stop the complainer dead in their tracks. Money speaks and leaves the offended person speechless, which is exactly what you want to happen. You want the complaining and the slander to stop. So, if you can, write a check and give them their money back. Once, we had a mom so angry with our program that we refunded an entire semester. She was stunned. We never heard from her again and the bad-mouthing stopped. What could she say? We listened, we apologized, AND we wrote her a check. Problem solved.
4. Change. Even if your irate client is irrational, wrong, exaggerating, misinformed, or a jerk, there is likely TRUTH inside of their complaint. There always is. So what can YOU take ownership of? What can you do to take that feedback and make positive change? How can you adjust what you are doing? If one person complains, it's likely that 9 others are out there thinking the same thing. So don't let your emotions override your logic. Step back. What can you improve? What can you adjust? Use this time to learn and your business will continue to improve and grow.
I've had angry clients, seething reviews, and irate clients. It's never ever fun and some of those experiences will always be with me. I choose to become better because of them. I choose to improve. I choose to make changes. I choose to rise above and NOT be sucked under.
It's YOUR choice, too.
You can't be perfect. It's impossible.
But you can be BETTER and you can always improve. THAT is in your control. And then, move on. Focus on the clients who love you. Focus on all the GOOD you are doing in the world. Don't let one or two people pull you down. Acknowledge that life might be really hard for them right now. Release them. Let them go.
And get back to serving those that still sing your praises.
You're doing good in the world! Don't let anyone stop you from keeping on.
About the Author
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!