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Joakim Ditlev

Business ratings: Why you can’t please every single customer

By on Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 in Online reputation management

Long before I joined Trustpilot, I helped my friend, Michael with some Danish translations. Michael made a living from selling shoes on eBay and was totally obsessed with keeping his business rating perfect. Then one day, it happened – a customer returned a pair of shoes that was as expected but the delivery was really slow, so the customer complained. As a result, Michael’s business got negative feedback and his rating and overall image had a scratch.

Repairing business rating in vain

business rating - good or badMichael, my friend, was all over the place trying to make up for the mistake – he offered free delivery on next delivery, wrote emails and a long personal letter (that I translated as the customer was Danish) which he even sent via snail mail explaining his side of the story. When communicating with the customer he also begged him to change the rating on eBay. He spent more than an entire business day on this single customer, and even though he walked those extra miles he never got the result he was hoping for: His perfect business rating was forever lost.

Back then I found it strange that Michael would spend so much time neutralizing this single complaint. He got hundreds of positive ones already, so why spend so much time on a single case? I still think his effort was wasted – here are three mistakes Michael made in trying to improve his business’ reputation:

#1 Michael took the complaint personally

A common mistake that we sometimes see on Trustpilot as well is when the merchant takes the complaint personally. It usually happens to smaller companies whose business is their baby. I read what Michael sent to his customers and it was clear that he got emotional about it. Rather than trying to defend himself, claiming that his version of the story was right, he should have instead seen the negative feedback from the customer’s point of view.

#2 Michael didn’t realize the power of an imperfect image

Nobody’s perfect and everybody knows that. A recent study found that 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad ratings. If people can’t find any beauty spots they’ll start becoming suspicious – to be more exact 30% suspect censorship or fake ratings according to the same study. Poor Michael didn’t have a clue.

#3 Michael forgot that the customer is always right

In the age of transparency where anyone can speak out loud, your company can be in the line of fire for no particular reason. Digital marketing expert Mitch Joel has written about the customer service paradox where we see, more and more, that ‘the customer is always right’; however, at the same time, the openness afforded by social media means people are complaining about little things sometimes far beyond the reach of what companies can control. The customer may not always be right, but when dealing with customer complaints online, you need to acknowledge that– no matter if you think it’s unfair. Michael did not think about that. But he did realize that it’s extremely difficult to please every single customer.

Now it’s your turn. Do you have a story to share about a review or business rating that did not go as expected?

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Speak your mind!

  1. I had a similar issue. Having just recently joined Trustpilot and my 5 star reviews starting flooding in I eventually got a negative one. I lost sleep over it and offered the customer the world to make them happy. Then a colleague said to me “why dont you look at the review in a positive way”? As I had responded to the customer via the review and via personal email he saw that this gave SB credability and shows potential customers that even though there was a compalint, I had responded straight away for all to see. As my company is an adult sex toy company, customers are cautious when buying. I hope that this one negative review can show that we are a reputable company who take customer care seriously!

    • Joakim Ditlev says:

      Great story, Beverley. Thanks for sharing! Acting quick on a negative response can sometimes be even more powerful than straight 5-star reviews.

    • Julie-Anne says:

      I agree entirely with Beverley – there’s nothing worce than the feeling you experience when you get your first negative review – especially if you’re a small business.

      But, once you adopt the mindset that negative reviews will happen, and you just need to deal with them accordingly, then they become a lot less daunting.

  2. You provided us some really good ideas! I’d like to add is that you can increase your social

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