A Cry for Yelp!

With a chainsaw in one hand and my iPhone in the other, I found myself absentmindedly checking the Float Shoppe email in the middle of a forest in Montana. I was helping my aunt clear and burn excess brush and fallen limbs on her property, a place I had come to for an overdue trip away from the running business. An email sent from Yelp about new feedback had popped into my inbox and I forgot about vacation to excitedly open it. My excitement crumbled to the floor as I read the e-mail. “We got a 1 star review?!” A combination of frustration and a sense of injustice rose in my chest as I frowned at tangles of fallen branches, thinking over the words this dissatisfied client had written to the world about us. It was a terrible feeling. Didn’t they know how much we care about what we do? That our attention is continually placed on making the experience perfect? Why didn’t they talk to us first? The reviewer’s words spun between my ears, loud despite the saw chewing through a thick branch close by. Chainsaws have a bad reputation, but they’re great at helping one process emotions. Thankfully, Dylan and I had read up about and discussed what to do when the day came that we received a bad review. My aunt, a fellow owner of a holistic wellness practice, offered empathy, encouragement, and advice that illuminated the positive aspects of feedback like this, affirming what we had learned. I stomped through icy snow, carrying an armload of branches, and dumped them on the burn pile we’d made. The advice is this:
  • First, remind yourself of why you’re doing what you’re doing. Then, remember all the positive things people tell you and of the difference you’ve made in bringing float tanks to your community. Consider that negative or constructive feedback is one of the most valuable things you will receive, and place it in the context of all the positive customer experiences that have occurred as a result of your float center.
  • Begin with gratitude. You’ve been given an opportunity to create a better environment for people to float. Defensiveness, pride, and other aspects of ego have no place in receiving negative feedback—that is to say, receptivity and gratitude are how to receive feedback. Then, examine every word and possible perspective to make sure you understand what the client means.
  • Place immediate attention on how and why it happened. Talk with anyone involved. Float about it. Create a plan to remedy the situation and put it into motion as soon as you have the solution. Track your progress, and continually reinvent until you’re sure it’s fixed. Once you’re sure, look back and see how you might have prevented the problem from happening in the first place.
  • Perhaps, it’s completely simple. Great! Fix it!
  • Then, write back to the client in either a private message or public. Tell them you’re thankful they brought the problem to your attention, and outline for them how you have fixed it. Welcome them back for a free session so they can see for themselves.
If you approach your clients from this place of respect and gratitude, you may find that the rest falls into place. Your care for the environment and the experience will be noticeable to others who walk through your doors, and their positive reviews will add up. That one person’s 1- or 3-star review will not make or break your business—only the way you respond will.