Have you ever tried something that just didn’t go the way you had hoped and turned into a bad experience? Sometimes we can ignore them, others we feel propelled to let others know about our horrible encounters. We all come across these events in our lives not matter the person, place, or thing of focus. Bad customer service; blast them on social media. Malfunctioning product; unpleasant reviews on company website. Read a lackluster novel; ream the author out on GoodReads.
There is no easy way to handle harsh reviews, but I have come up with a few steps to help my fellow providers of any product or service to come out stronger after such abuse. Before we begin, I want to be clear that there is a very real difference between constructive criticism and plain rude comments. Constructive criticism is exactly that, a positive offering from a consumer to help strengthen the seller’s position within any market. Malicious reviews do not fall in this category, and sometimes can be a little hard to swallow. This is where my focus will fall because constructive criticism is part of everyday life, so we should be acclimated to these types of comments whereas verbal lashings for most are a bit further and farther in between.
*Disclaimer: I am an author, so this will be geared more towards my colleagues, but all suppliers are welcomed to cite whatever piece they find valuable from this post.
1. Read the comments with an open mind.
Do not attempt to read reviews or listen to customers with a turbulent or distracted mind. Whatever is going on in another part of your life, whatever has previously upset you either work related or otherwise, forget about it for all of the amount time it is going to take you to complete this process before reading/hearing any sort of cruel negative feedback. Clear your mind, steel it if you are new to this process, and continue to the next step.
2. Don’t take it personal.
Remember the first step. Read the comments with an open mind and don’t take it personal. I of all people know that this is hard to do especially when a reviewer is literally dragging your name through the mud, but we have to remember that to them whatever product or service they were provided with did not meet expectations and therefore has let them down. This can be heightened dramatically as the cost to the consumer is higher. No matter what the reviewer has said, don’t take it personally, and continue on.
3. Find the constructive pieces.
Unless the customer is literally just throwing profanities and cursing your very existence, during these times of frustration, we all just want our voices heard. Again, if the reviewer is just lamenting that you occupy space on this planet, it is best just to ignore it and/or advise them to provide feedback at such a time that it can contain constructive points. If the consumer is frustrated, but still explaining why pertaining to the product, then there is hope for something constructive and possibly a lesson to be learned. It may be hard to sieve through some of the not so helpful points, but again, remember our previous steps and focus on what can be helpful advice.
4. Do not respond.
This may be equally hard to do, but specifically to my fellow authors, do not respond! Unless you are on the phone or in person with the disgruntled customer, do not respond. List out the constructive points as you read the statements with an open mind. Even if you think you have the end-all-be-all comeback, do not respond. This is about learning to find what is helpful to better yourself in the future.
Revert to the previous step if you are face to face with an unhappy consumer: advise them to provide feedback at such a time that it can contain constructive points, and if it does contain such points, acknowledge them, but do not offer excuses or explanations. Just listen and give their concerns merit. Do not take anything said to you to heart. Remember, it isn’t personal. They just want to be heard.
5. Remember that you are not perfect.
No one on this planet is perfect. We all perform the same mundane tasks every day between bathroom usage and clothing rituals. You will never make everyone happy no matter the product or service you provide, but we can at least continue to understand that there is always room for growth and use these scenarios to our advantage. If a reviewer says that your story lacks dialog, try to add more in your next. If a customer states that your product brakes too easily at this certain piece, evaluate their concern and strive to make it better. We can take these moments of criticism and strive to make ourselves. Not perfect, but better.
We are all human, and life is a continuous saga of learning lessons. Be the bigger person, and better yourself from the experience. Take what you can from each lesson, and let the rest go. (Not to sound too “Frozen”-y.) Everything we do, we can get better with practice and determination. Never give up, just accept this new challenge and rise above it.
My husband will look at me at times and ask how I can stand to see some ill-intended comments. My answer is always that I take them and choose to grow from them. I refuse to let it get me down because then what does that accomplish. We all have too choose to be better, to strive for more, and with each new project, that is exactly what I do. In a way, I guess I am breaking one of my own rules with this post, but to all who have provided feedback on any of my works, I thank you for helping me reach for higher heights, and I will always strive for greater.
Let me know of any tips that I may have left out, or different ways you may cope with such comments. If you just need a listening ear, I am here for that also!