I was sitting in the parking lot of Meijer's after having been cleaning all day. I saw the alert from Thumbtack that I had a review. Eagerly, I clicked the link to where I read: __________________.
My heart dropped. What? My team had been at this small townhome for more than 6 hours (12 hours of work). I had seen a pic of the ceiling fan with thick dust from one of my team members telling me it was going to take longer than expected.
I was brand new to business (3 months in). This could really ruin things for me! A 1-star review and someone was ripping my company apart in the comments. I stopped and reread it, cringing at the language with some sentences in ALL CAPS.
I gave myself 5 minutes. I knew I needed to respond and call the client and be open to hearing her side of the story. Before I dialed, I told myself the goal was to listen, not defend.
Just like the written review, this client was MAD on the phone!
Kelly (name changed) mentioned she came home, and there was some syrup left on the kitchen table, and the half bathroom sink faucet wasn't shining. I asked her if she would like for me to come the next day to fix her concerns. I empathized with her that it is frustrating to go home and find those issues after working all day.
Kelly agreed to let me come over first thing the next morning.
She asked me, "do you want me to take down the review?"
I calmly responded, "Ma'am, if you think that review is what we deserve, leave it up. We are not perfect, but I believe our work and our integrity will speak for itself. So, I'm not going to ask you to take it off."
The next day, I came by and cleaned off the little spot of syrup on the table and checked on the sinks to make sure they shined.
I brought over a small flower plant and wrote a handwritten note, thanking her for allowing me to come back and resolve her concerns.
My phone rang later that evening and Kelly was in tears. She shared how the card had touched her, that she had already called Thumbtack to take down the first review and that she had replaced it with a 5-star review. She proceeded to tell me that her life was very hard at the moment because her daughter was in jail, and she was solely responsible for her two-year-old granddaughter while working full-time.
This was an early valuable lesson for me in understanding people and business. Sometimes the narrative does not go this way, and there's nothing you can do to make a client happy. But sometimes people are dealing with battles we have no idea they are facing and choosing to be understanding rather than defensive can go a long way.
So, when you get a bad review, stop and asked yourself these questions:
● Can I humbly listen to criticism and own it when my company may have fallen short?
● Is there a way I can remedy this situation by valuing a person's feelings over money?
● Is it possible that client frustration may stem from outside circumstances unrelated to our cleaning service?