Dealing With Reviews
The “Joys” of Customers Venting on Social Media
by Adam Pratt, Game Grid Arcade & ArcadeHeroes.com
Another lovely spring season is upon us, and hopefully it will be a prosperous one for each of you. So far, this year has been solid for my operations, with the new route I detailed in a previous article becoming settled after spending a few weeks on chasing repairs. In the midst of that, I’ve noticed an uptick in an item of interest that will be the subject of today’s article – customer reviews.
Much of that interest has come from discussing the issue with fellow operators who have been sharing such data on Facebook for the closed “Arcade Owners – Behind the Cabinets” group. You’re welcome to join – if you’re an arcade owner or operator (there are plenty of groups that are for collectors out there).
Anyone who has run a business in this modern age of connectivity has had to deal with reviews that can come from anyone and at any time. For whatever reason, my business hadn’t received many reviews on sites like Yelp, Facebook or Google until the past four months or so. Most of these have come from Google, and so far, I would call them “mixed.”
When the reviews are good, they provide validation of what we’re doing, making for a nice little ego boost. When they’re bad, it can be anything from infuriating (when they make up details that didn’t happen or wild claims) to confusing (when they leave one star without any comment). Naturally, the standard human reaction is to focus on the bad instead of the good.
It can be difficult not to take the infuriating reviews personally, especially when they contain bad or false information that can lead a potential customer astray and hurt your business. Granted, not everyone takes a 1-star review at face value (perhaps because they’re usually poorly written or they use sensationalistic half-truths to get attention), but they can also be useful in some instances.
What I have to keep in mind is that customers are the lifeblood of our business –– it’s not the games, but the people coming in to play them. Recently, I received a 1-star review that detailed a problem I hadn’t been aware of. I could tell the writer was sincere, and even though he was giving my business a bad review, it allowed me to see something that could be improved upon.
It’s tough to admit to faults, but ignoring real issues will only cause something to get worse. Maybe the correction won’t bring that particular customer back, but at least it can prevent the next person from going through the same thing – something that could snowball until there is no one left willing to return.
With this particular review, I took the approach of giving it a brief wait, as opposed to responding with a snap judgment. I’ve learned that doing so can avoid coming off as unprofessional and rude, as the initial reaction is going to be based on strong emotions (at least they will be in my case). I gave it some thought and had to go through a few revisions before hitting “post.” I asked the reviewer to call me so we could discuss it. I didn’t know if he would bother, but after five days, I received a call during which he explained his side of it.
I found that he left the review with the purpose of getting my attention, and we had a conversation that ended up resolving the problem and the customer removed the review after he felt satisfied.
Will every situation work out this way? No. It always depends on the problem and the client. Defusing such complications is easier said than done. I think that it’s a talent that some people just have, while the rest of us (I count myself in the latter group) must work at it, situation by situation.
Still, I think there’s value in weighing a response, opening the door so that you can understand where they are coming from, getting the other side of the story if necessary and calmly being able to present your side as needed. Sure, there are times where someone behaves illogically –– they simply don’t like the rules or policies and wish to behave like they deserve to be treated differently from everyone else. In those instances, I’ve found that there isn’t a persuasive method at turning them around. Fortunately, those are also few and far between.
If you have ideas or methods for offering great customer service, especially for review situations, drop me a line! Perhaps with enough comments we can do a follow-up article down the road. Until then, I wish all the best to you in your operations.
Adam Pratt is the owner and operator of the Game Grid arcade near Salt Lake City, Utah. He also publishes the Arcade Heroes blog site and serves as an advisor for the web-based game supplier BMI Worldwide. He can be reached at [email protected].