When I speak about handling reviews I encourage you to write replies to reviews,
but write them for the other people who will be reading them, and don’t get into a he-said, she-said in public. When you have an upset customer it’s always best to keep that discussion offline, and out of email if you can. Your goal is to make your customer happy, so they’ll refer you and, if you offer more than just wedding services, maybe come back and use you again.
One of my favorite things to live by is that I’ve learned in business, and in life, that I’d rather be happy and successful, than be right. If I have to prove that I’m right, that means someone else has to be wrong. If I tell my wife that she’s wrong about something, how is that going to work out for me? If I tell a customer that they’re wrong, how is that going to work out for me?
Long term value
The long-term value of a customer relationship is the amount of money that you will earn over the life of that relationship. When a customer has a problem, that long-term value gets paused, not stopped. If you handle their issue quickly, and to their satisfaction, the long-term value not only continues, it could be higher. Customers will usually forgive you for getting something wrong, if you make it right – quickly. Some of my best customer and industry relationships are with people who first came to me with a problem. After handling it professionally, and quickly, they knew that if something else should arise, I would take care of it quickly and professionally as well. That ‘problem’ was really an opportunity.
Give until it hurts
I’ve heard countless examples of wedding pros who have offered customers more than would seem warranted to make them happy, and then they were rewarded with referral business, possibly more referral business than they would have gotten had nothing gone wrong. I know the owner of a DJ company, with 7 DJ’s, personally calls every customer on Monday morning if he wasn’t at their event, to see how things went for them. On one Monday, he called a mother who had hired their company to DJ her young son’s birthday party. The woman expressed that she wasn’t happy with the performance of the DJ. He listened, apologized (one of the most important things to do) and then offered her a partial refund. She appeared to be satisfied… but he wasn’t. So, he went to a popular toy store and bought a gift card, and then a note card. He hand-wrote an apology in the notecard, something to the effect of “I’m sorry that everything wasn’t exactly the way you had expected for your son’s party. Please buy him a gift from us,” and put the gift card in the envelope with it. He hand-delivered the envelope to her house. Within two weeks, he had gotten two referrals from her that booked him for events. A few months later he called to tell me he had heard that I was telling his story. I asked if he wanted me to not tell it anymore and he said, “No, it’s fine, I just wanted you to know that I have now booked 3 jobs now from that, not two!”
Another wedding pro told me that his company has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. A groom called after his wedding to say that something hadn’t gone correctly. After listening, and apologizing, the wedding asked the groom where to send the refund check. The groom said, “You don’t have to give us back all of the money.” But the wedding pro reiterated that they have a 100% money-back guarantee, and since everything wasn’t to their satisfaction they were refunding the entire amount. The wedding pro told me that they, too, had gotten at least two referrals who booked them from that couple. I asked him if anyone abused their 100% satisfaction guarantee and complained, even if nothing went wrong? He said “You would think they might, but it hasn’t happened, at least not yet.”
Both examples show how a little short-term pain, giving the refunds, can lead to long-term gain. Had they not handled their situations well it very well could have led to poor reviews, which could have cost them other business. I once had a wedding DJ approach me at a conference to tell me the story of a wedding where the power had gone out (not his fault). The couple went to the DJ at the event and demanded a refund. The DJ wasn’t an owner and had no authority to give a refund. It’s certainly questionable as to whether a refund was due, given the situation. The DJ would have kept playing but the wedding couldn’t have gone on without power, even if he had backup power for his equipment (the venue sent everyone home).
The customer wrote an email to the owner of the DJ company demanding a refund, and threatened to post 1-star reviews on the top wedding sites if he didn’t comply. Instead of taking a deep breath, trying to put himself in their shoes (their wedding was ruined), thinking about the possible consequences and trying to appease the customer, he wrote them back a stern email saying that no refund was warranted as it wasn’t his fault the power went out. The customer went and posted the negative reviews, exactly as they had said (or threatened). Now, the owner of the DJ company was standing before me asking how he could make those bad reviews go away. I asked him how much he would be willing to pay to erase them. Was it more than they paid him for the wedding? He said, “Absolutely.” I said, “So, now you’re willing to pay that much, why not when they first came to you?”
Doing the right thing, even when it’s more than warranted
He let his emotions get the best of him. Yes, they were bordering on extortion and unfairly targeting him. He called their bluff and he lost. Had he called me before writing back to them, I would have told him to think long-term, not short-term. I hope this never happens to you, but if it does, remember that you have an unhappy customer and your first mission is to make them happy. Try to see it from their side, as if you were the customer. Think about what you would you want to happen, and then act appropriately.
If you’d like to find out how I can work with you and your team, whether you’re a team of one, or dozens, reach out to me. I’ve worked with businesses both virtually (phone/internet) as well as on-site at venues, bridal salons, entertainment companies, and more. Through in-person sales training, virtual consultations & website reviews and mastermind groups, I can help you stand out in your market, no matter how crowded it already is. To find out how I can help you, contact me via email, text, use the short form on this page, or call 732.422.6362, international enquiries 001 732 422 6362.
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