People today have found a new way to bully and inflict pain. They can do it anonymously or at a distance and this gives them the power I wonder if they lack in their daily lives. These people go on Urban Spoon, yelp, Facebook pages or other review sites and slam your business. They have no obligation to contact you first. It seems akin to a drive by shooting where the shooter just doesn’t care who is hit by the shot.
I know that reviews are helpful and I admit that I read them when selecting a hotel or place for dinner in an unknown city. But I am also smart enough to know that places are rarely a zero or a five star…the truth is somewhere in the middle. I have talked to enough people and received enough solicitations to know that some people hire companies to get good reviews. Yep. They pay a company, who create profiles and give you amazing reviews. To these business owners, I am sure they feel like this is simply another form of advertising. I never wanted any part of this for my shop.
Likewise, I am not stupid and knew that some of my employees posted good reviews to bring our numbers up. They felt that some of the reviews were lies. What? People go on sites and lie? I believe so. I am sure it would be hard to prove, but have seen shows on tv investigating these types of situations. Sometimes people feel that the only way to build up their business is to tear yours down. They and their friends post amorphous comments like “they were rude”, “the cake was dry”, etc. Often you can tell from the review that they never placed an order with you.
Then there are the real hit and run artists. You show them the order. They smile and say it is great and pay and leave. They go home and stew about what they didn’t like. They are as angry at themselves for not complaining, as they are at you for the perceived errors on their order. Because they did not have the guts to talk to the store about their issues, they find their power in the review. I believe these people write the most scathing reviews -again in response to their own anger at their meekness. This is the place for them to be invincible and feel powerful. They blast your company for something that could have been fixed if they had just said something when they picked up the order.
I find the same to be true when people send emails and are much more vicious in those than when you speak to them by phone or in person. The danger of our world of technology is that people feel insulated from their actions. Since things rarely take place face to face anymore, people go further than they would in person. Even if their anger is justified, an anonymous review is not the proper solution.
There are things that people SHOULD do when they are unhappy with an order. The first is to say something as soon as they notice the order is wrong. Notice I did not say scream at the poor counter person who handed you the order….just calmly explain that the order is wrong and tell them what needs to be corrected. The second is to determine whether the error justifies giving them time to fix the error (if possible), whether it deserves a discount/refund or whether a combination is due. Only if the company fails to treat the problem professionally and doesn’t try to make it right, do I believe you are justified in writing a review about your experience.
In another blog, I will address how to handle the irate customer in your shop, but for now, let’s just talk about email and review bullies. I personally think they are cowards. They may cost a company some business, but, in the end, a company’s reputation will stay strong. Karma will get the bully. And maybe, someday, people will realize that performing a cyber hit and run is wrong. Hey, a girl can hope!