Learning From Bad Reviews

Service-based businesses can be tough with platforms like Yelp, Google, and Facebook reviews. As a small business owner and people pleaser, we want to make everyone happy!

Owners pour their life into their businesses and genuinely want to see customers enjoy themselves. When they see customers that don’t enjoy their experience, it stings a little.

Reviews are biased. In thinking about who writes a review, it is largely dissatisfied customers. Consumers are more motivated to speak their minds on the internet about negative experiences than positive ones. Knowing this fact, it doesn’t make reading bad reviews easier.

To help increase the chances of your small business survival, you are forced to ask customers who had a good time to go online and leave a review or else the percentages will skew higher toward negative than they actually are. Even then, most satisfied customers still don’t take the time to go online and rate their experience.

I once received a review that said, “It looked like this place was built by a 3rd grader that was high on weed. It’s just a dusty old warehouse filled with pizza stickers”

I owned an interactive pizza themed pop-up museum. This museum was in an 11,000 sq ft historic theater with beautiful architecture protected by the city. The museum cost upwards of ¾ million dollars. I sure hope for ¾ million dollars with artists brought in around the country is not something a 3rd grader on weed could accomplish. If so, that 3rd grader sounds like a trust funded prodigy! But alas, this is the review I received.

Two valuable lessons learned from this experience:

Negativity is a reflection of the person spewing the hate. There could be a bunch of reasons why someone was compelled to write that review. Maybe they were having a bad day. Maybe they didn’t attend with a fun group of people. Maybe they didn’t read online what the museum was all about before attending. Maybe some people are just naturally negative people! Maybe they’ve never put themselves out there for the world to see and just don’t know the work involved. Maybe they are cowards hiding behind the internet. Whatever the situation may be, a troll review should be viewed as that. A review written by a troll.

Haters give valuable information for improvement. Even though a negative review may sting, they still give valuable information to improve. In the example above, if the quality appears to be done by a 3rd grader, there is a gap between perception and reality. The takeaway here is, go through the list of installations, identify what could look more polished, what are the fastest and cheapest improvements that could be added and voila a better final product than if the review had never been posted.

As much as it stings, bad reviews will happen. You can’t always win over 100% of the population. Successful entrepreneurs take a step back and look at the situation from a wider perspective. And remember, it only takes 51% of the electoral college votes to become president. If you’re above 50% in likeability chances are you’re well on your way to success.

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