Leaving a Negative Review (or; A Permanent Scar on Local Businesses)

by Amber — September 25, 2021

Small businesses and their livelihood need to be nurtured more than ever before. It’s time we take a good look at what happens when you leave a negative review.

Angry Asian man pounding his fist on the table, over the top anger in his negative review

I often tell my kids that it’s ok to have ‘BIG FEELINGS’, it’s what you do about them that counts. This applies to adults too… and importantly, to anyone leaving a negative review online.

I’ve done it before. Allowed my anger, disappointment, and frustration to travel through my fingers and into the worldwide web. Hoping to let a business know just how terribly they have inconvenienced me. But when you stop and think, it’s not all about me, is it? There are many others involved in this story.

Here are a few things to consider before leaving a negative review

Let’s say you frequent a business where you usually have great experiences, but suddenly have a poor experience and you need to tell someone. Before you leave a review about the bad service ask yourself these 3 things:

  1. Have you left a positive review in the past?
  2. Is it fair to leave a negative review based on that one poor experience if you haven’t left reviews of any of the positive experiences you’ve had? Keep in mind that reviews are forever and they affect the rating of the company.
  3. Did you calmly talk to the person helping you about the way your were feeling? And if they weren’t able to help you, was a manager or an owner called in?

Remember, you’re dealing with human beings and human beings are known to make mistakes from time to time. It doesn’t mean the company they work for is a bad place to spend your money. But it might mean that the person who has provided you with bad service may need some extra training.

What should I do if I receive poor service and feel like something needs to be done?

Always reach out to the business itself first. Whether you ask to speak to someone on the spot, phone them, email or message them on Facebook, this should always be your starting point. This gives the company a chance to really show you their customer service skills. It gives them a chance to hear your side properly, along with the details, including date and time. In this way, the business can take the time to train the staff on how to better handle the situation next time.

What will this accomplish…

You might find out that they were short-staffed that day and your waitress had twice as many tables to serve as she should have. You might find out the person behind the cash register is new and learning how to use the computer, or still learning about the products in store. Communicating your experience gives the business you’re dealing with a chance to grow. They can learn from your observations, and become a better and stronger company in a positive and constructive way. It’s a far better option than being publicly shamed for being human.

The important thing to consider is: are you being fair?

Monitoring reviews for our family business has opened my eyes to the world of unjust reviewers. Like the man who gave us a one star review because his Dungeons and Dragons character sheet was thrown out. As a former D&D player I realize that he put a lot of work into that, but it was a piece of paper on an empty table to our server. She had never played D&D. Do we deserve to have that on our permanent record? Or the gentleman who insisted we owed him a few hundred bucks because we weren’t open when he came by to eat. Yes, it was an inconvenience, but we closed when we usually close. We did our best to explain that to him, with no luck.

The learning curve from negative reviews

What did these reviews teach us? To be more careful about what we throw out and to make sure our hours of operation are clearly posted. These are simple things that could have been resolved with a quick chat or a note to the team providing you with service. We learned and we grew, and we like to think that we provide better service as a result. However, the reviews these folks left are still there and not reflective of the changes we’ve made.

Ok, I still want to leave a negative review

If after considering and doing all of the above you still want to voice your opinion, please mention how it was resolved in your online review. It is important to anyone reading your reviews to know how a business will take care of them if there is a problem. Because, I think we can all agree that, shit happens but it’s how we resolve it that really counts.

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