Last week one of my Business of Weddings members contacted me as she had been dealing with a difficult client. She had been floored, for want of a better word, by an email full of accusations and complaints of which many were false.
We all love to think all our clients are going to be amazing but the odd bridezilla, or groomzilla, will inevitably pop up in your wedding business so this blog post is how to manage bad reviews on your Google my Business if it gets that far.
FIRSTLY, DON'T PANIC
All businesses aren't going to have happy euphoric clients all the time, that is life. Every establishment has a complaints book, large companies have customer service departments, people send products or meals back if they don't live up to expectations and running a wedding business is just the same, you won't please them all and sometimes you may not get it right.
We are in the service industry and our goals are to make sure our clients have the best day of their life, we know there is a lot of expense and emotions involved as this is our job yet there are some clients you will never please.
I would challenge anyone in the wedding industry to tell me they have worked for 10 years and not had any unhappy clients. Some have been genuine complaints but some not.
Having unhappy clients is soul destroying when you have worked hard to pull off that gorgeous wedding yet they are disappointed. A wedding business owners mindset can be shredded, as my clients was, so here we look at this objectively as you are the CEO of your business.
It isn't a personal attack on you, albeit it feels like it, as many of you are solopreneurs and love your work. I hope this post will help anyone who works in the wedding industry.
RECEIVING A COMPLAINT
Usually if client wishes to complain the first port of call will be an email to you. This should be stated in your contracts that complaints must be made formally and not on a messaging platform like messenger or Whats App and within a certain time frame.
Emails can be saved and recorded, they will stand up in court if the complaint is serious.
Take an objective look at the complaint, if they do have valid reasons it needs to be addressed politely and professionally, you need to rectify and resolve the justifiable complaint.
Conversely you may get the 'nit pickers'. There is nothing worse than clients who do this, they are often putting so much pressure on themselves to have that perfect day they will pick up on anything, they aren't at all relaxed during their day and actively looking for anything they can complain about.
They tend to be a certain type. They are controlling personalities, resulting in being in a state of constant high stress therefore cannot relax and let others be in charge, even on their wedding day. They don't know how to relax and maybe even thrive on it.
Usually this type of client will struggle to focus on the positives but are usually encouraged by their calmer partner to, and not dwell on the tiny distractions they decided to focus on during their day, but sadly some don't and slip the net.
GETTING IT 100% RIGHT AND DIFFERENT CLIENT PROFILES
The wedding industry sets the bar high, we want 100% perfect weddings for one of the most important days of our clients lives, but things may happen. We all understand we don't live in a perfect world, albeit the wedding industry strive to, as all businesses do, but there is a unique pressure when it comes to weddings!
We are talking a high money spend and a life event, not just a store purchase or a meal in a restaurant.
I have had a couple who had so much torrential rain their marquee was swept away, couples who have lost very close relatives days before or after their weddings, fires, coach crash, not serious thank goodness, cakes melt, it happens.
Whilst we do everything we can to avoid such wedding day catastrophes, these clients are often the ones who breeze through their wedding day, they don't care, they aren't hanging onto the negatives. They will go into a restaurant and have to wait a little longer than thought, yet they choose to enjoy themselves, order that extra drink and soak up the atmosphere.
They are the same with their weddings, they are realists and are focusing on the fact they are finally getting married to the love of their life, a lifetime partnership of joy and being together, not on whether the place cards were put out correctly.
Then we get the opposite end of the spectrum, the ones who are constantly looking for a reason to find fault, start to stress about tiny details their guests wouldn't even know or care about.
They have lost focus and most important element of their day, marrying their dream partner.
No matter what you do, you won't please this type of client, they will cling onto all these tiny things and make a big deal of it as remember they are habitual complainers. The ones that will get uptight if waiting too long for their dinner in a restaurant and decide to complain.
THESE ARE THE CLIENTS THAT WILL LEAVE BAD REVIEWS
It is the controlling habitual complainer that will leave you a bad review.
If the complaints had been justifiable and you were able to resolve their complaint or genuinely apologise then they would have accepted this but these aren't habitual complainers, they had a genuine complaint.
If the complaint was petty and 'nit picking', nothing you could really address or didn't want to get involved into a ping pong match with, these are the ones that will hang onto the disgruntled mood, despite having a gorgeous wedding, and post a bad review.
Often they are just looking for money back after their wedding, this may sound presumptuous but I have seen it, thankfully not that often, and know the tactics they use.
SO HOW DO YOU ADDRESS A BAD GOOGLE MY BUSINESS REVIEW?
Don't ignore it, as the CEO of your business you need to address it and it is the perfect time to address their complaint publicly. You have to become your customer service department.
Write a empathic but firm response. Often there are two sides to a story, make sure you address key points they felt the need to raise publicly.
Customers can change their reviews, if your response has been well written they may feel more understood or just don't want to be seen publicly as a petty complainer so may change their review.
Do remember bullies are cowards, they will bully you privately in your inbox and messages, but when forced to go public they will often back off which is why I encourage you not to respond to direct petty complaints. If they are genuine yes, if they are purely seeking money back based on petty comments and observations then no.
Force them to go public with their grievances, as they will. If you dig deeper into their reviews you will often see a pattern that they have complained before about another business.
If the review is overstepping the mark you can report this to Google and ask them to remove or delete an inappropriate review of your business, there will be 3 dots on that review so click on this and you will be shown the options to report it.
Google will review it and if they feel your report and review doesn't fit in with their guidelines they will delete it, especially if you have responded.
THINK LIKE A CEO OF YOUR BUSINESS
After such a difficult few years for the wedding industry I am aware many are mentally exhausted and trying to deal with negatives like this can be the icing on the cake, I want you to disassociate your emotions attached to your businesses and think like the CEO.
You won't see giant companies CEO's stressing over individual complaints or checking why a customer has returned a product, they have systems, customer service departments to deal with disgruntled customers and your mindset needs to be the same. It needs to be objective and not emotionally led.
MY CLIENT AND I RESOLVED HER GOOGLE REVIEW
I wrote this blog post on the back of helping my Business of Weddings member quickly resolve her rotten review on Google.
We first went through point by point all the 'issues' her client had raised in her email. I describe them as 'issues' as actually many of the points were completely untrue or fabricated. We did this on a phone call.
My client was accused of stealing personal belongings, very strong, this referred to a 'luxury' room spray she had been told to spray around an exterior courtyard, it was mislaid as left on a windowsill and yet her email and subsequent review stated my client had stolen personal belongings, this is how bad it got.
I advised her not to respond as it was so petty and didn't want her to start the ping pong email game which I know would have been detrimental to her mindset. She was already extremely hurt and upset.
My client then received a message, demanding a response to her email as she was currently looking as to what to write in her review, it was very threatening. My client didn't respond so we knew the review was coming and sure enough it did.
The review was there headed up with BRIDES BEWARE so I typed up a response for my client to post.
We covered all the 'points' she had made including the 'stealing personal belongings' stating we were not responsible for personal belongings as this was in her contract and mentioning we can only assume she was referring to the 'luxury' room spray that had been sprayed around an exterior courtyard.
The response was polite, empathic, yet firm, addressing all the issues she felt aggrieved about publicly.
We also mentioned the alarming headline and the fact she herself runs a business all about being ethical, being kind, mindfulness, etc and it didn't align with all the values she portrays she has in her business.
Her online personna means everything to her, apparently the whole wedding was orchestrated around the photos and video, not interested in anything else, including her guests experience, she just wanted it to look amazing for her business and social media. This comment would have hit a hard truth.
I then noticed the review had been edited so it wasn't quite so aggressive, starting previously with BRIDES BEWARE had been removed.
The next morning my client went to check the review, as told her it had been edited, and guess what the review had been taken down!
Sometimes you will get genuine complaints, deal with them professionally and quickly but for some reason, particularly in a service based industry you will come across this.
Don't be bullied, don't feel like a rug has been pulled out from under your feet and if you need help just reach out. There are plenty of business coaches, like me, that would be more than happy to help you. It is a horrid situation to be in and can completely floor you.
If you have questions about this blog post please just contact me, I don't want anyone suffering silently when their business is attacked like this. It is not right, it isn't fair and there are many ways you can deal with this.