Our brain is wired to protect and keep us safe. When confronted with any type of criticism or negative feedback, we go into fight, flight, or freeze mode. Our mental barriers go up, and we feel it in our bodies. We feel anxious, angry, and we feel threatened. These are all normal.
Below are nine tips on how you can professionally handle negative feedback due to your pet sitting business’s online reviews.
#1 Take a breath. Don’t immediately react.
Take a breath and don’t react. My manager, Michael, gave me a rule to not respond to an email that made me angry for 24 hours. Once the 24-hours lapse, I have a different outlook on how I am going to respond.
#2 Reread the review or email at least three times.
You probably don’t want to but take the time to read it through, make sure you understand it, and let it sink in.
#3 Think of the feedback as a learning tool.
Remember, your most unhappy customers are your most significant source of learning.
Ask yourself, “What did this customer expect? Why did they expect it? Where was the misunderstanding? Why did it occur? What changes can I make to ensure that this never happens again?”
Try to put yourself into your customer’s shoes and viewpoint. It is going to help you immensely.
#4 Compose a professional and polite online response.
Also, include thanks and appreciation in your response for bringing the matter to your attention.
I had a negative Yelp review years ago from a guy who was actually in the wrong. I rose above the situation and wrote an extremely professional response. So many customers called the office and said, “Oh, I saw your response on Yelp. You seem like a wonderful person and I want to work with you.”
#5 Respond offline with a phone call to ask questions and discuss the issues.
Call your customer to have a heart to heart talk and discuss the issues. Once you have resolved the problems, you can post again online and comment on how you agreed to the outcome with your customer.
#6 Request that fake or misleading reviews be removed.
If you believe a review is from a past employee, who is angry with you for some reason, you can request to Facebook, Google, Yelp, or any other review site that it be removed.
I once discharged a woman who was in my Pet Nanny Coach Community Facebook page. She created a fake profile and posted an outrageous review on my page. I contacted Facebook, and they immediately took the review down.
#7 Go the extra mile by sending a care package to the pets.
You may also want to offer a 100% refund. If my company or sitter is in the wrong, I will always give a 100% refund. We also follow up with a care package to the pets.
In my opinion, even if we believe that we were in the right, I still think that having the last touchpoint with the customer be positive.
There will be customers that are just pains in the you know what, and you don’t want to send them anything. That’s understandable. I have not sent the care package as well in other situations.
But in some cases, you might find that it’s warranted and may make you feel better about the situation. It might land better with the customer that’s unhappy so that they’re not spreading negative feedback to other people about your business — something to think about.
You can use a company like sendoutcards.com, where you can easily send a greeting card attached to a care package. Etsy.com is another good way too.
#8 Encourage your happy customers to write reviews.
Create a system out of this. We send out a survey after every single pet sitting service, asking for feedback.
If the feedback’s positive, you can ask then politely, “Hey, would you mind sharing this on Yelp? Or would you mind sharing this on Google? I want to spread the word about my company, and I want to attract amazing customers like you.”
We also have a system where my manager regularly sends a personalized email to two customers once a week. It’s a great way to build up your reviews.
#9 Separate criticism from judgment.
Try not to take it personally. It can be tough since we are animal people. We have a lot of love in us, so when people come at us, we feel hurt, and it’s easy to take it personally.
Do your best to try to remedy the situation. If you are not wrong, know it’s about them, not about you, and just try to separate that. It’ll just be easier on your mind and your soul.
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