Jenn Haines: Stop Ignoring Your Reviews

October 4, 2017 | 2 min to read

By Jenn Haines, owner of The Dragon

You know that feeling, right? When you get that notification that you have a negative review?

It's a visceral feeling—a combination of defensiveness, anger, and frustration. Your first reaction might be to lash out. Your second reaction might be to ignore it. That’s better than lashing out, right?

Sure. But as small-business retailers, we pride ourselves on creating businesses that have an advantage over online or big-box stores: we give you that personal shopping experience. We do our own play-testing. We cultivate communities. We greet all our customers and treat them like real people.

Why should that stop in our online interactions?

Negative reviews offer two opportunities:

1. It's an opportunity to learn.

It's easy to assume the customer is wrong or just "doesn’t understand." But take a closer look—that bad review might highlight ways to improve. Respond that you’ll be investigating the issue, and thank the customer for bringing it to your attention.

Like this:

Review:

The staff was rude to my wife when she asked about getting [a certain publisher's] books on her pull list saying they didn't like to stock them but would order them only if she wanted them.

Response:

I am extremely sorry you felt my staff were being rude to your wife. It's true we don't stock [that publisher's] books for the shelf, but we have no problem ordering any comic a customer wants. I will be speaking to my staff about how this was handled, as no one should be made to feel bad about their artistic tastes.

2. It's an opportunity to market your business.

The point of responding to reviews isn't necessarily to communicate with the people who leave them. It’s to communicate with the people who read them.

A lot of people check out a business online before going there in person. While most people won't dismiss you because of a negative review or two, they will gain more respect for your business if you have responded to those reviews in a fair and respectful way.

Like this:

Review:

Very overpriced as usual [for a brick-and-mortar store]

Response:

Hi [reviewer], we do strive to provide the best possible shopping experience we can. We all know that brick-and-mortar stores can't compete with the Internet in pricing, but our goal is to provide something different from an online shopping experience. I'm sorry we didn't meet your expectations.

Responses like these two humanize your business. They put a face on the company and show you care about your customer’s needs.

There are several reasons why customers leave negative reviews.

Sometimes they're disappointed you don't carry a product line they like. Sometimes they're disappointed that you can’t match the low prices of an online retailer. Why not take that opportunity to show why you make those decisions, and why you're excellent at what you do?

It's not always easy to figure out how to do that. It takes time and practice. Take a deep breath, wait a few hours, and formulate a response that will benefit you. Do it for every single review—including good ones. That customer took the time to promote your business, and you should acknowledge that.

Above all, remember to remain true to your goals as a friendly local gaming store, and you can’t go wrong.

Jenn Haines (B.Ed, M.A.) owns The Dragon in Guelph, Ontario. She is a recipient of the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailing Award and the YMCA–YWCA Women of Distinction Award in the Business category. She is also a board member of ComicsPro.