This week’s theme on the blog seems to be customer service and online reviews, but that’s not by design. It’s just the way it happened as I have been writing my posts. I’d like to pretend that these issues that relate to small business were planned for Small Business Week, but it’s just dumb luck.
On Monday, I shared a sign from a restaurant that found a creative way to battle a negative Yelp review. One customer had apparently posted about how the restaurant served the worst meatball sub he had ever had, and it got me thinking about the way we describe things and use superlatives.
Back in the seventies my family would take annual trips to St. Petersburg, Florida. One of our regular stops was a great restaurant called Aunt Hattie’s that is sadly no longer in existence. I remember after our first visit my dad went around telling everyone he could that:
“The pecan pies were THIS big”
And with each telling, the physical description of the pie kept getting bigger and bigger. So much so that we would imitate him by signifying with our arms that the pies were possibly bigger than hula hoops.
Yes, the pies were big, but they weren’t THAT big.
I was reminded of this yesterday when my daughter came back from the grocery store and told me to come out to the car to help her. Apparently the bucket of cat litter weighed:
We all do this. We exaggerate. We embellish. And most of those embellishments actually happen “in the moment”. When you’ve just finished a meal at a restaurant, you are likely to tell someone that it was “the best steak ever” or perhaps, “the worst chocolate cake on the planet!”
Most likely, neither of those is true, but we don’t remember other steaks or chocolate cakes. The customer service might have been bad, but was it the worst ever? Probably not.
Whether people say AMAZING things about us, or HORRIBLE things, we need to take it with a grain of salt. An occasional bad review will not kill you or your business. It happens, and it should just want to make you work harder.
On the other hand, a few good reviews aren’t going to put you over the top. For every customer who tells the world that you have the best customer service or the most amazing sandwiches, there are other would-be customers who come to you with great expectations. Again, you just have to keep working hard to live up to those reviews.
As people talk about you, both positively and negatively, both online and offline, we need to filter those reviews. Process them. What do they really mean? Don’t let them depress you or give you an overinflated sense of importance.Remember that we often will exaggerate in the moment. I think this is especially the case when we put our thoughts into words on an official review site like Yelp or Facebook. We want to sound intelligent and trustworthy, and for some reason that means we overcompensate with a use of those superlatives.
Here’s a tip you can use as you read the reviews others have written about your business: read them while replacing the superlatives. Replace words like “great” and “best” with softer words, and then do the same with negatives, like “worst” and “horrible”. See if it changes your understanding of the review, and helps temper your reaction.
Positive reviews are a wonderful thing, and negative reviews can be annoying, yet instructive.
Continue to do your job and do the best you can. Prove the bad reviews wrong, and show the world that you’ve earned the good ones. Just learn to temper your reactions as you read them both.
Are you regularly monitoring your online reviews? How are you trying to keep it real without overreacting?
- Yelp reviews; keeping a healthy perspective is best (coverboom.com)
- Monthly Mash: Customer Service Tools and Non-Designer’s Design (customersthatstick.com)
- The Benefits to Experiencing Everything and Picking a Silo Later (thecontentcocktail.com)