Making Them Choose

Regarding poor internet reviews for stone fabricators, I’ve heard a well-known speaker advise “Bury that thing.” I disagree. You want to put the occasional poor review front and center.

I’ve written previously about how to respond to poor internet reviews. Although those articles remain relevant in the sense of “how”, they may not adequately address “why”. How can a poor review be turned in your favor? By forcing customers to make a choice. They’ve read the complaint against you and read your response. Your response will have given them the information they need to evaluate whether or not to do business with you. Make them choose.

In a sales situation, it’s all about qualifying the prospect. You need to find out if your customer can afford and has the ability to pay for the project you’re about to propose, otherwise you’re wasting your time. A poor review with a proper response can have nearly the same qualifying effect. If your prospect doesn’t appreciate how you’ve handled the situation and if your response has no value to him, you don’t want this customer. Do everything you can to help difficult customers self-sort.

All 5-star reviews aren’t only impossible to obtain, they aren’t believable. You’re asking your potential customers to believe that you’ve never had someone turn into a difficult customer. You’re asking your potential customer to believe that you can sniff out every difficult potential customer before they sign a contract. You’re asking a potential customer to believe you never screw up.  No one is that good and when it isn’t believable, your credibility suffers.

If you had to do a job three times to get it right or refund a customer’s money, own it publicly. Yes, it’s humiliating; that’s good for you, it makes you not want to repeat it. More importantly, it shows a potential customer what you’ll do if their job comes off the rails. Plus, when you ‘fess up, it stops the metaphorical bleeding. You’ve expressed your regrets and made amends. Any potential customer that doesn’t appreciate that is kicking you while you’re down. Let them kick you before you sign a contract, please.

Do I practice what I preach? I’ve written columns on my first liability claim and on my getting sued in small claims court. I lost, that’s another column, but it brings home my point here. I’m forcing potential customers to choose between believing that a licensed Florida building contractor with a 4.63 customer satisfaction rating would risk a formal complaint against his license to beat an 84-year-old man out of a $200.00 sink, or believe that the sympathetic old man perjured himself and the judge fell for it. Potentials must choose.

Nearly all your customers have been on the other side even if it was just as wait staff in a restaurant in their youth. They haven’t forgotten how, despite their best efforts, events beyond their control (a slow kitchen instead of a slow truck) reflected on their performance. If your response to a poor review strikes this chord, you’ve won a customer you want.

Let’s face it, poor reviews are fun to read, the angrier the better. Glowing reviews get pretty dull after about the fifth one. The upside to a poor review is that it keeps potentials reading; they may skim through another 15 glowers just to find another turd. It’s human nature. One of the funniest videos I’ve ever seen is of author Richard Dawkins reading his hate mail aloud.

Responses to poor reviews should get potential customers rooting for you. They’ve read the good ones and they want to believe, but you’ve got to give them the ammunition they need. I’ve had customers ask me about the customers that have given me poor reviews and we often share a good laugh. That bonding is priceless and is how 5-stars are created from 1-stars.