Q&A :: Discussing Online Reviews

At the end of 2013 I sent out a Content Call to our mailing list asking for input on five different questions. Thank you to everyone who sent in their replies. I have a feeling this question is on a lot of designer’s minds ~ the worry that comes with online reviews…

Question #1
How do you get over the fear of getting a bad rating on Wedding Wire or Yelp, etc for something even minor. It makes me feel like I need to be absolutely perfect and that puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on me.

It’s essential to do your best work always and if your best isn’t good enough for someone and that results in a bad review unfortunately that is just part of our modern day business strife. It should not stop you from doing your work or hang over your head. Most consumers who write and read online reviews know how it goes…the more strongly negative the review the greater the chance that the person writing it is the one with the issue. I think mediocre reviews are almost worse than scathing reviews. If we put forth our best work and fall short (which can happen to anyone) all we can do is handle it with great care and respect. I bet some of your favorite companies, restaurants, retailers, etc. have received negative reviews along the way. It won’t change your opinion if your love the company/product.

You might combat your fear of negativity by asking happy customers to review you either for your own website or on another site. Happy customers are usually more than happy to say so in a testimonial.
Alison of Floral Artistry, Vermont

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I totally agree. The fear of bad ratings on Wedding Wire and elsewhere is one of the largest stressors in my life I would say. I know I have a tendency to focus on the negative and I make it a point to try not to do this. We gets tons of fabulous feedback and then the 1 out of the blue negative email sends me over the edge. I hold myself to a high standard and anything less than perfect or exceeding my client’s expectations can be quite upsetting. A good thing to keep in mind is that Wedding Wire will sort your reviews from 5 stars down to 1 so even if you get a bad for a more recent wedding, it will go under the 5 star reviews. I doubt that brides realize this right away. I think that when brides come upon our reviews and scroll down, they are already feeling really good about all the 5 star reviews we have that by the time they get to lesser reviews, they have already emailed me! I use Yelp a lot and know that there will always be someone out there with something negative to say, I hope that brides give me the same benefit of the doubt.
Amy of Crimson and Clover, Maryland

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As a business owner you do have to be cognizant about every single client that walks in your door and make sure that you put your best foot forward each and every single time you respond to their questions, provide competitive pricing and provide the best product that you can. Not everything will be perfect as we all know but sometimes you just have to let go of the fear and manage your business to the best of your ability. One bad review is not great and people will be able to see thru it.. lots of bad reviews well then that is really bad for business.
Alex of Exquisite Designs, Illinois

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This used to keep me up at night! The reality is that you can’t please everyone no matter how hard you try. I’ve had a five star rating consistently and I recently got a two star review on Yelp. It killed me!
The client’s comments are actually untrue but I decided not to address it because no matter how valid my comments would be I’d come across being defensive. People who really use Yelp can read through the odd bad review.
So that review is still there, I still have my 5 star average and guess what? It hasn’t affected my business one little bit.
Susan of Three Sisters – Custom Flower & Events, California

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I know I used to worry a lot about a bad review and I work very hard to please my clients BUT no matter what there are some who can’t just leave a nice comment there always has to be something negative. For example, I had a couple of brides who could not say enough about my amazing flowers, my great attitude and job well done BUT I have very poor spelling when I write emails (this I know it is not my forte) why does that even have to come into the picture? oh well I guess I just work harder. Its out there no matter what we do its bound to happen. Just take your time and think about how you want to respond to the claim , Don’t do it hot headed. your good future clients can see though some of those reviews.
Tracy of Park Place Design, Michigan

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There have been times where I have waited to request reviews from folks until I got a thank you note, for sure, but the Wedding Wire folks think the best way to overcome a less than stellar review is to get lots more good ones. Responding to at least some of your good reviews is a good way to make sure you are not just “correcting” the bad ones also.
Polly of Robin Hollow Farm, Rhode Island

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I have leveled with the fact that at some point, despite my best efforts, I will get a bad review. If a customer is upset and doesn’t let me know, there is next to nothing I can do about it. I try and educate my customers about the importance of letting me know if they have any problems with their flowers- that it’s not complaining, I want to know so I can remedy the situation or be aware of problems that might also be affecting other customers.
Kelsey of Crabapple Floral, North Dakota

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I always call two weeks after the wedding and ask if everything was just as they expected. This way I can head off any miscommunications if there were any issues, refer back to our contract and notes. Then if there are questions and I’ve answered them I let them know ahead I’ll be sending them a link for a review and ask if they’d please take the time to write one for me. I assure them I loved working with them and would love to work with other brides just like them.
Dana of Della Blooms, Maryland

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There are always so many details that never get into a rating ( if it is not the one you wanted). In your heart you know how you did . Learn from it. You have to rise above it and keep telling yourself that.
Kris of The KRISanthemums, Oregon

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Always stressing the details and years of telling myself telling myself that ‘good enough’ really is good enough.
Althea of Rose of Sharon Floral Designs, Arkansas

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No matter what I do, that fear is always there. It actually doesn’t happen very much, but it has happened, and it’s like a punch in the stomach when you read it. There are no wedding vendors with whom I associate that are in this business to disappoint their customers. I think we as vendors are hyper concerned with doing a good job and making sure our customers are happy, and the thought of anything else does not even enter our minds. To avoid bad reviews, we ask a lot of questions and make certain that we are on the same page. Still, there are times where a customer may not be happy for one reason or another (whether it was a mistake we made, a miscommunication of expectations, or just an unreasonable customer). And the only thing we have in our arsenal to deal with these occasions is our reactions. In the rare times that this has happened to me, I’ve learned a lot. The customer wants to know that they’ve been heard, so I hear them admit to anything you may have done to cause the problem, let them know you’re sorry this is happening, and then resolve it in a way that is fair. If we made the mistake, we get in front of it, apologize profusely, and issue a refund if a refund is deemed necessary. If the bad review is posted online, we respectfully apologize and ask that the customer call us to resolve.

The biggest thing that helps us avoid bad reviews is managing our customers’ expectations. There’s a lot to this, so I won’t go into it, but the main thing is never fear handling it. Get in front of the problem before it becomes a bigger problem, be very clear what the customer is to expect from you, and sympathize (they want to be heard, so hear them). Do what you can (without being walked on) to please the customer.
Courtenay of Courtenay Lambert Floral and Event Design, Kentucky & Ohio

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Thank you to all of you who sent in this answers – really great thoughts and advice!

Have a question you’d like to receive feedback on from other designers – please email it to us.

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