Reviews: the Good, the Bad, and the Grateful

This doesn’t really fit in any category but I’m in a mood to write it.  Online reviews are an important part of doing business these days. We certainly get our fair share of the good and bad, but ultimately what’s important is our customer. We recently got a terrible review online. The guy gave a long and detailed description of a job gone bad and how terribly inept, unresponsive, etc, etc. we were. You can bet that got our attention and we looked into it right away.

customer reviews speech bubbleThe thing is that we couldn’t find this fellow in the system at all.  And we couldn’t find a job that fit the description around the time he mentioned.  Not to mention, anything that went as bad as this guy’s job could not escape notice around here.  We are certain something is wrong with the review.  Do not think I am saying we never mess up- a company this size has its share of problems (usually from some kind of lack of communication- it’s our constant challenge) but we try to be right on top of every problem.  We try to get things resolved quickly for everyone’s sakes, including our own.  But this review doesn’t ring right.

So I wrote up a response nice and polite saying something was out of whack here, and asked the fellow to please contact me directly since we can’t find him in our system.  I went into how we see four possibilities; this is what I wrote:

  1. That this could be a fake review (from a competitor) meant to hurt us.  Your story has the feel of truth so we don’t think this is a fake review.
  2. That we could have actually messed up this much on one job.  However it is extremely doubtful that all of this could have happened without my knowledge.
  3. That we have an employee who did this on the side representing himself as the company.  We have not ruled this out yet.
  4. That you have mistaken a different company for our company.  While this happens more than you’d think, and we have yet to completely rule this out, we are not leaning this way.  Which takes us back to option #3.

At this point we do think the reviewer has the wrong company, but a misbehaved employee is not out of the question.  Now High’s, like lots of companies these days, has an SEO company.  Our SEO guy said responses should be simpler (that I shouldn’t post those points on a response) and we should just apologize even if we didn’t we do anything wrong, which is what we did, but we don’t like it.

The interesting thing about online reviews is that few people leave good reviews without being asked.  If you leave good reviews without being asked, you are the exception.  But bad reviews are easy to come by.  And it’s even more interesting than that: if all things are equal, a big company and a small company will get the same percentages of bad reviews.  That means if you annoyed 1% of your customers (which is a lot really) but only serviced 100 customers this year, you’d get one bad review.  But if you service 100 customers a week, you’d get one each week!  Looking at the two online you’d say one was good and the other terrible.  But it is really the case that one just has less overall reviews to balance out the inevitable bad reviews. And it gets even more interesting.

In our case we don’t do a very good job of asking for good reviews; we should but we don’t.  But let’s say that same, smaller, competitor is very good asking for reviews and gets ten good reviews.  He could well have a much better rating than we do just because of our volume!   The easy answer is that we should do a better job asking for good reviews, but you see the underlying problem.  The internet does more than “level the playing field.”  It can actually work against the larger operators.  Ah well…

Obviously we didn’t get this size by beating up on our customers for the last 30 years.  But it is frustrating to work so hard to focus on making sure we have top notch services, then also have to fight for the internet’s good graces on the back end. Anyway, thanks for letting me rant.  Enough of this.  If you ever have a problem with High’s Chimney, call us.  And if we ever gave you good service, you know we’d love to get that review.

One thought on "Reviews: the Good, the Bad, and the Grateful"

Mike P. says:

I’m researching fireplaces for a new build here in Texas, way out of your area, and just read your January ’15 response to a bad review. I was compelled to commend you on a well thought-out and written piece. It’s informative on all levels and succinctly addresses the problems with on-line reviews. It also confirms the “weighting” process I go through when using on-line reviews.

Thanks, and I wish you the best in your business.

Mike P.

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