Advice for leaders who understand reviews are part of their brand

Corporate leaders invest significant resources and energy into building a strong, viable business. As a result, our egos can readily bruise when we receive a negative review—especially when we know just how much work goes on behind the scenes of a developing business. But your brand—or the ways your customers perceive your company—is a key part of that strength… see the conundrum? So now what?

Now pause with me for a moment. In Cazarin Interactive’s twenty+ years of business, we’ve had some bad reviews (who hasn’t, right?). And they have hurt. But in that span of time, we’ve also learned that customers have their own experiences, and their perceptions shape their reality. Where their understanding of reality conflicts with mine is irrelevant if it impacts their (or others’) trust in our company. What is relevant is whether their experience with our company is one I can stand behind. And as the business leader delivering that experience, I can only learn from the feedback, and do what is necessary to change the nature of that experience—and hopefully—the perception of our company.

In this way, while positive reviews are encouraging, negative reviews are a gift.

While it takes some practice working through that initial blow to the ego and finding the learning experience buried in there, you can also transform a negative review into a high-impact marketing opportunity.

  • Be timely. Monitor and respond to reviews within 48 business hours, if possible. It shows you’re paying attention, and showing that you’re listening is a great first step in shaping the perception you’re striving for.
  • Watch your tone. Turns out your mother was right— showing respect with a calm voice is better received than coming across as defensive or shifting blame. If the review is negative, an empathetic response will show you care. There are times when a customer will not be satisfied, no matter what you do to repair the situation. Keep “an experience you can stand behind” front and center in your mind throughout your interactions, and you won’t regret it.
  • Own your part. Your response to negative feedback should first and foremost begin with an apology. Recognize that this customer did not have the positive experience either of you had hoped for, but now they have presented an opportunity to transform their perception. Extend the offer to continue the conversation via phone call or email to better understand what happened, how the customer is feeling, and how your team can do better.
  • Restore the connection. Customer decisions are rooted in emotional connections, even if it’s as simple as risk-aversion. If you demonstrate care, listening, understanding, and respect, you can restore their trust and gain new customer loyalty as well. And don’t suppress that desire to shout at the top of your lungs for too long—go for a run later or get into kickboxing. You have needs too!
  • Implement real change. If the customer brought to light that marketing materials were unclear or processes could improve, clarify and implement changes to avoid a similar situation in the future.
  • Build your brand promise. Be seen as the company that values and utilizes feedback, learns lessons and honestly addresses customer concerns. Continue to learn, listen, and grow to better serve future customers.

Quick Takeaways

  • Biting your tongue at times and being empathetic will help you earn and gain loyalty in the marketplace.
  • Perception is everything—and you can shape customers’ perceptions of your company and team.

Learning to listen sincerely and opening your heart is not an easy process, but well worth it.

Resources used:





What do you do for your customers to intentionally shape their experience?
How do you deal with negative feedback?
Let us know if we can help you in any way.


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