When you work very hard to build something significant, and someone makes what sounds like an unjustified remark, it hurts. If you don’t restrain yourself from attacking it can turn into a circus in all the wrong ways. Ever see a minor complaint turn into a public relations disaster? It seems like it happens all the time these days and companies still miss opportunities to turn customer griping into chances to amaze larger audiences.
Negative Reviews Can Make Your Service Better
When someone makes a complaint in public or gives you a bad review, it’s going out to the whole audience of the platform your member chooses to use. If you respond the right way, it can be a chance to show a small audience your good intentions. React badly, and the situation will escalate until it seems like the whole world is watching.
The great thing about complaints online is that if you respond well you can turn the situation around. You can take a publicity blotch on your reputation and use it as fuel to shine even more than you already do. Pay attention, apply some energy, listen with a sympathetic attitude, and respond with solutions; the rest is just detail.
Best Bad Review Responses
- Be alert to what your past and present members say online
- Answer politely, you have everything to lose by being snarky
- Always respond and address the problem
- Engage the person and attempt to move the discussion offline
- Fix the problem and be seen to do so
To respond, you need to pay attention; after all, if you don’t know about it, you can’t respond to it. The only thing worse than finding complaints are the festering complaints that pile up and catch you unaware. One of the simplest strategies to respond promptly is to automate the process with a Google Alert for your business name.
Your members and guests can turn to many different channels to review your fitness center. Yelp is the best known for being a review site, but the big social media platforms are perhaps even more of a risk. Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit can all flare up into a frenzy if you act rashly and fight back by posting something angry or negative.
Your Personal Response Is The Small Gym Business Advantage
If you are just starting out, it will be tougher to deal with bad reviews than if you are established and growing. But the flip side is that you can respond with more authenticity and authority than a faceless middle manager in a big box gym corporation.
Remember Bally Fitness? That was a big company that couldn’t seem to take care of simple things like customer service. The company became a case study in shoddy customer service and mismanagement. It’s easier to make things right if it’s your small gym business and not a branch of a giant bureaucracy.
Opportunity Or Disaster – You Choose
The emotional response to criticism is the best way to make the situation worse, and fast. A brand fighting with customers is exactly the kind of behavior that attracts the attention of the whole Internet. That’s the lesson that spawned the Streisand Effect. Barbara Streisand learned what not to do the hard way when she unintentionally set the standard for what not to do and what happens when you try to suppress negative feedback.
Turn a complaint or criticism into a chance to impress a few people and start some great word of mouth marketing by making it right. The problem with fighting with members is that it’s so exciting as a spectator sport. Outbursts and hostility toward unknown entities can be the source of their future fame. When it costs nothing for the audience to watch an escalating situation and it’s easy to spread the word. If only building brand recognitions was as easy as destroying it.
Unhappy Customers Can Be Your Best Investment
But if you feed the one then others will try to do the same right? Sure, and it means you keep getting free attention; that’s a good thing as long as you handle it positively. The free publicity you can get from serving an unhappy customer makes it worthwhile to spoil them a little bit. So keep it positive and keep solving problems.
Prepare yourself by setting up alerts and respond positively when it happens, go to extremes to fix problems and turn negatives into positives. Remember that negative reviews are a chance to show how great you really are. Be thankful that you have an opportunity to receive honest feedback and to serve your customers.
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Fagan, Lawrence. Cancellation: Inoculation or Escalation? January 20, 2014. https://blog.gyminsight.com/2402-cancellation-inoculation-or-escalation/ (accessed September 16, 2015).
McGovern, Gail, and Youngme Moon. Companies and the Customers Who Hate Them. June 2007. https://hbr.org/2007/06/companies-and-the-customers-who-hate-them (accessed June 11, 2017).
Zabonick, Rachel. Marketing: Responding to a Negative Customer Review. April 19, 2017. http://clubsolutionsmagazine.com/2017/04/negative-customer-review/ (accessed June 11, 2017).