3 things you can learn from bad customer reviews

By Matt Doyle, Vice President and Co-Founder of Excel Generators, a builder of custom homes.

Bad reviews are serious business for any business. They can be harmful to your reputation, even if they are only passed through word of mouth. Nowadays, they can live forever online.

I build houses as a business, so when a single customer relationship breaks down it can affect my team for a whole season, if not longer. It’s worth it for me to do a thorough review for every bad review that happens. In doing so, I have learned that they can be very informative.

In this little guide, I’m going to cover three important things you can learn from bad reviews.

1. They can help you identify communication failures

Sometimes you will find that a bad review is coming. Maybe it’s because you dropped the ball or the customer just didn’t get the service. The reviews that really hurt, however, are the ones that come out of nowhere.

When these bad reviews happen, it’s often because the customer got stuck. They might not have received an email response to an important question they asked. They may have tried to call you, only to get a busy signal a few times.

Communication is key to resolving any issue before it escalates, so you should act immediately if you ever receive a bad review because a customer couldn’t reach you. Review your policies, train your staff, update your contact information – anything you need to do to make sure every customer can reach someone.

2. They can help you create better posts on your services

Bad reviews can happen because the customer did not understand the service and therefore had unrealistic expectations of what was possible.

In my home construction industry, tensions can arise when a client does not understand the boundaries of building codes and zoning restrictions. I just can’t give them whatever they want without breaking safety standards or breaking the law. Even if a customer is angry with something that is the result of a misunderstanding, it can be an opportunity for you.

Use these reviews as a guide to improve the way you describe your services. You cannot assume that every customer will be aware of the limitations of your industry. Bad reviews like this can point you to where knowledge gaps exist so that you can better explain your services.

3. They can help you direct your training resources

Sometimes bad reviews happen because a client is angry with the treatment they received from one of your team members. If you have team members who abuse customers, a bad review can help you identify them. However, sometimes your team members are simply limited by inexperience and inflexible guidelines.

You can use these bad reviews to find out where your training may fail for everyone. A common source of interaction complaints are customers who must hear the hated phrase, “Wait, let me transfer you. ”

This can happen when your team members don’t have the information they need to answer important questions. They also may not have the authority to make the requested adjustments. Think carefully about how you can train your employees to provide more direct service in the future. Sometimes you just need to trust them more.

The opinions expressed here by the columnists of Inc.com are theirs and not those of Inc.com.

Joseph P. Harris