Pet Boarding & Daycare

Handling Bad Reviews with a Winning Attitude

Handling Bad Reviews with a Winning Attitude

By Khris Berry

Sally S. began working with pets at a young age. She honed her knowledge, saved her money, and found a mentor in the pet services business. After some time, Sally opened her small pet care facility, Sally’s Dizzy Dog. Her business ran great for a while with just a few novice mistakes; a missed tax filing here, a disgruntled customer there, but Sally learned and Sally’s Dizzy Dog prospered. 

As Sally’s business grew, so did her dependence on additional staff. She found that more and more her services were carried out by employees and she did not have control over every customer interaction.

And then the day came that Sally got her first bad review on social media. It went something like this:

“I just came from Sally’s Dizzy Dog and oh my gosh, this place sucks. I dropped my dog off and returned 1 week later to a depressed, unhappy pet – in fact, he slept for 3 days. I called to let them know and they said he was happy and active. I know this was not true because he didn’t act like himself.  I think he may have been traumatized. Don’t go here – these people are terrible.”

–Barbara V.

Sally read the review and immediately was flooded with emotions. She was furious, embarrassed, concerned, and bewildered. How did this happen? She valued the connections she created with customers at Sally’s Dizzy Dog and had pride over the quality of care her staff provided for every canine guest. To make matters worse, Sally realized she didn’t have a personal relationship with the client who reviewed her business.

Here’s where our story takes a turn. How Sally handles this very public, very deflating opinion could determine the ongoing success and define the reputation of her business. Some Sallies would respond immediately, defending the honor and quality of work at the shop. Some Sallies would google how to write a response to a bad on–line review. Some Sallies may ask friends and family to help draft a response which would deflate the original opinion. Which Sally are you?

To handle adversity such as a bad review, it takes a calm, rational approach which highlights the values of your establishment. Authenticity can be visible to readers—even on the internet. Think about what makes you and your business unique and special in the first place. Are you known for the quality of care you provide? Perhaps you are known for your personal touches at customer service or your staff’s ability to remember personal details about every pet. Whatever your truth, this is the time to draw upon it and allow it to shine through in your response.

A qualified business owner would look at the review and certainly determine if there was merit to the reviewer’s opinion. If so, then it’s okay to let them know. Sometimes an apology is all that is needed to appease a customer who felt slighted in some way. After reviewing the situation, you should be able to determine if the reviewer has a valid complaint. If it’s frivolous, they will know it, and hopefully you will too and can respond appropriately.

Each sample response allows Sally to have a public conversation with the unhappy customer. As with any differing opinion, it is always important to acknowledge how the other person feels and then state your viewpoint and offer a solution. After all, tomorrow is another day and an unhappy customer today is an opportunity to open a dialogue which can turn them into your biggest advocate.  It’s all in the way you say it!