3 Ways to Learn From a Bad Customer Review
By Amy O’Connor
It happened, and it was awful. It crushed my soul. I actually lost sleep over it.
I got a bad review. A scathingly bad review!
Recently, I was speaking at a seminar and a participant wrote on a review that they found me “abrasive, loud and annoying.” I know… you can’t please everyone, right? I get that.
And truth be told, I received an overall 4.9 out a 5.0 rating for the seminar. That review was just one comment among many glowing reviews.
So why did it affect me so deeply? Why did it matter so much? Even I wasn’t sure.
So, I set out to find answers that might benefit all of us the next time we experience negative feedback. Here’s what I’ve got.
Step 1: Own It
Since receiving this negative review I’ve shared my story many times – in classes, in seminars, and now in writing. And, in a weird sort of way, it has taken away some of the sting, some of the embarrassment.
You see, now I own it. If I put it out there, then it’s mine to control and it can’t hurt me. Hah! Take that!
I’ve also found that when I share this story with live audiences, hands fly into the air all around the room and people share their own “you’re bad” stories: “Oh, me too! Me, too! I got a bad survey! I got a bad review! It was awful! I felt terrible.”
It was such a relief for them to share their “secret shame” publicly and discover they weren’t alone. Everyone gets a bad review from time to time and there’s something very freeing about saying it out loud.
Step 2: Put It in Perspective
Once I moved past the initial sting of the review, I was more bothered that it bothered me. So, I decided to take the issue up with my mentor. I asked him “how do you deal with negative reviews?” “How do you not let them get to you?”
After telling him the whole story, my mentor put the experience into perspective. He said…
“Amy, the people who love you and come to see you speak want to see the real you. The whole you. If you had given them a watered-down version of the Amy O’Connor I know, my hunch is that you would have gotten more negative reviews demanding the return of the sassy Amy O’Connor they came to see. Know who you are and understand that changing to please to a few offends the many.”
Step 3: Assess for Takeaways
Once you stop secretly wishing that the bad reviewer comes down with a terrible illness or severely uncomfortable rash (just kidding! sort of…), step back and listen to the message.
Take the snarkiness out of what they said and see if there are any lessons you can learn. For example, I know my voice is loud and carries very well.
The lesson? I could be more attentive during my sound checks and ask the sound technician to turn my mic down a bit.
I mean, there’s a real possibility I was too loud. And it’s true. Being too loud can be annoying. That was a good takeaway for me.
Bad reviews often have useful pieces of information that can help us improve in our profession. If we choose to get past our emotions and objectively analyze the message, we win!
Bad reviews suck. There’s no getting around it. They’ll continue to sting and I can almost guarantee they’ll never completely go away. But the next time you get a nasty survey or a bad review – own it, put it in perspective, and look for the lesson!
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