Clemency for All! A Guide to Surviving Online Reviews

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Surviving Online Reviews

It was the spring of 1996 when I was falsely accused and later convicted of a crime I didn’t commit. My mother swore she overheard me say a forbidden “curse word.” Truthfully, I was innocent on all accounts, and I argued my case in a rather dramatic fashion that only a 9-year-old girl could, but sure enough I was nabbed, booked, and convicted. I was sentenced to a bar of soap in the mouth and a few grueling days without Television.

Fast forward 20 years and I found myself in my office at work acting no more reserved or under control than I was that spring day in 96’. I was checking up on our company Facebook page when I noticed our rating had plummeted overnight. Upon investigation, I found that the 1-star review and comment that followed it were completely unsubstantiated. I looked into finding out the identity of the person who wrote the review only to discover that they had left similarly distasteful and unfounded reviews on other funeral industry professional’s pages; in other words a bully who hides behind the safety of his digital anonymity knocking down different companies credibility review by review.

My next step was contacting Facebook to have them remove the comment and the rating. If you have ever tried to reach Facebook, you would have a better chance of capturing Big Foot. I couldn’t explain my situation to anyone in detail, all I could do was report the post, and select between two reasons I didn’t like the review, they were:
First choice: “It has nothing to do with Facebook”
Second choice: “I think it shouldn’t be on Facebook”

How unbelievably unhelpful, Facebook! Neither of these choices was accurate, and I couldn’t elaborate any further other than selecting one of those choices; nonetheless, I selected the second choice and continued pouting in front of my computer. When I checked back later to see if Facebook had removed the unsubstantiated comment, they had but my elation was short-lived when I noticed the one-star rating remained. So now our company has a phantom one-star review with no comment or explanation, gravely affecting our rating leaving us with a paltry 4.5/5.

Has this happened to you? Have you received a review that was either exaggerated or unfounded? Chances are any business has. So enough griping, how do we fix it?

Customer Awareness: Simply put, we need to be asking customers for their reviews. We are leaving a free piece of marketing gold behind with each family we serve if we aren’t asking for their feedback. Invite your clients to leave reviews online, and be specific, mention Facebook and Google. We have the power to gain a positive review; it’s our job to ask for it.

Provide an experience: Think about the last review that you wrote. Whether it was for a restaurant, hotel, or concert you had to have been inspired by a really incredible experience or a really terrible experience in order to spend the time and write the review. What can you do in your funeral home to inspire client families to leave feedback? Provide an experience they will want to share. If you choose to focus on providing an exceptional and personal funeral experience for the families you serve, then you will have a greater chance at receiving a positive review.

Expect a review: Change your mindset to expect and anticipate being reviewed. Think of every interaction you have with the client family as a chance to be reviewed, observed, and rated. Also, keep in mind, reviews aren’t always about people, but also about places and environments. If your facility is in need of a cleaning service or a power wash, the families who visit with you are noticing. The dusty chandelier and the worn carpet may be ignorable to you, but clients notice these subtle negative cues. So unless you want the public hearing about your need for a Dyson, clean it up! Again, if you expect the review, you will be prepared, ready, and excited to receive one.

Practice, practice, practice: Professional athletes, attorneys, teachers, and medical professionals are expected and required to continue to study and practice well after they have received their degree(s). We owe it to ourselves, and the families we serve, to do the same. Challenge yourself to read a business book, especially business books that are universal and not just within the funeral profession (we recommend the book entitled Look by Jim Gilmore). When we are better educated and more knowledgeable, it is then that we can improve our overall professional performance and influence our client families to share their experience with the public.

Lastly, a word of caution: be careful to engage publicly. When we receive a negative review, we naturally want to object and fire back. But I would caution against this publicly. If the review is unsubstantiated, let it go. If it is a legitimately poor review, which does happen, invite the person to call or email to go over the problem in a greater detail. Otherwise, ignore and focus on attaining the next positive review!

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