How to Receive and Respond to Feedback and Reviews – Joyful Customer Delight Miniseries Part Six – Episode 79

Photo: Yellow stars lined up diagonally, dividing a baby blue and baby pink background. Text: The Feel Good Factor Podcast, episode 79. How to Receive and Respond to Feedback and Reviews – Joyful Customer Delight Miniseries Part 6

Let’s take a deep dive into the sea of feedback and online reviews for conscious business owners. Some of them are super important, and some are totally not worth your time. How do you differentiate between the two? And how do you handle them?

In this sixth segment of the miniseries, Keeping Your Customers Delighted, While Also Maintaining Your Own Sanity and Joy, I share:

  • Why feedback and reviews are important for your conscious business
  • Which feedback is actually useful
  • How to actively ask for and receive helpful feedback and reviews
  • What to do with the feedback once you have it
  • Why you shouldn’t take every single review seriously
  • Who deserves your response and who doesn’t
  • How to turn a mediocre review into a positive one
  • And so much more
Listen on the embedded player below, or on your preferred podcast platform. If reading is your jam, then scroll down for the transcript. Enjoy! 🙂

“When you don’t give people the space to express their frustrations…when they are upset, that’s when you start getting negative reviews online. And you don’t want that. You know if somebody’s having a bad day, you don’t want to bear the brunt of that, by having your ratings affected online.”

Susmitha Veganosaurus – The Feel Good Factor Podcast

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Transcript of Joyful Customer Delight Part Six – How to Receive and Respond to Feedback and Reviews for Conscious Businesses

(edited for a better reading experience)

Hey, hey! 🙂 We’re already on the sixth segment of keeping your customers delighted while also maintaining your own sanity and joy. I’ve been really enjoying doing this mini series on the podcast.

Last week, I spoke about how to handle uninvited, and un-asked-for, free advice and suggestions that tend to get showered upon you when you’re a conscious entrepreneur, particularly if you’re the conscious entrepreneur. Because people are happy that you’re doing things a certain way, you’re providing them certain conscious options, which others aren’t. But then, they want more perfection. So, you know, they say, “Oh, why don’t you do this? Why don’t you try that?” And there’s lots of free advice floating around, and you’re inundated with it.

So last week’s episode was all about how to handle it, what kind of advice to actually take into account, take seriously. What to listen to, what not to listen to. What to cut off, how to cut off… all those things.

In today’s episode, I’d like to discuss feedback.

Now, feedback is a little different from suggestions and advice. Suggestions and advice are more general. They could come from people who’re just telling you how to run your business or what to do with your business. It may not have anything to do with the experience that they have personally. But feedback, it’s to be taken a little bit more seriously because it has to do with the person’s experience with your product, with your service. at your place. You know, they respond to you telling you how it was for them.

Feedback can be just positive stuff. It could be like, “this energy that you have here made me feel so good, keep doing this”, or “the music that you’re playing is so soothing, I love it.” Feedback could be that. Could be as simple as people telling you what they are liking about your business, and why they keep coming back to it.

But it could also be them telling you what they don’t like. When feedback comes about things people don’t like, it comes in two categories.

One is constructive feedback.

They tell you, “this was good, but if maybe you made this dish a little creamier, it will be even more nicer.” Or, you know, “I like things a little more spicy, so that would be better for this particular dish.”

So constructive feedback is always important to consider and listen to. The least you can do is listen to it. Or read it if somebody shares it online.

Then there’s the other kind of feedback which is just cribbing. And, you know, just complaining, and being negative like, “I didn’t like this. I didn’t like that. I didn’t like this blah, blah, blah.” That, you don’t even bother about it!

If somebody’s complaining for the sake of complaining, and it’s only a rant, then that’s of no use to you.

Unless, of course, you’ve messed up from your end and somebody complains about it, then of course, you need to pay very careful attention to it. And take care of it and change things. Or if it’s a similar complaint coming from multiple people, then you have to wonder, you know, “hmm, what’s happening on my end that could be changed to make the experience better for them?”

Those are the only cases in which you need to take the complaining feedback seriously, otherwise don’t bother about it.

Feedback also comes in the form of reviews where people leave reviews online for you. We’re gonna get deeper into reviews a little later, but I wanted to talk about feedback first.

Now, when it comes to getting feedback, it’s important to ask for it.

Often people may not be… you know, they may have a certain experience, but they may not actually express it out to you. You need feedback, especially if you’re a new business and you’re trying to figure out what people want, what people like, what people dislike. It’s gonna help you because then you can fine tune your products and services accordingly.

Say you’re running a restaurant, you think this particular dish is gonna be a super hit, but it isn’t selling the way you had imagined it would. Though it seems like such an amazing dish and, of course, you’ve tested it and you and everybody who’s tasted it has liked it so far, somehow it isn’t moving. Or there isn’t a repeated demand for it. So then you wonder why, “why is that happening?”

And this is where asking for feedback helps, because, who knows, either it really isn’t appealing to everybody else, so there’s no point continuing on with it. Or all you need to do is make a few changes here and there, a few tweaks, and then people are going to love it. And how do you know this? You know this only by asking for feedback and receiving it.

So whether it is online or offline, have feedback forms. Have some place where people can leave you feedback, a private feedback.

We’re not talking about a public review. Before it goes public, you want people to reach you and be able to tell you. This is especially important when the feedback is not positive. Because you don’t want it just sitting out there in public, you know, you want to know what’s happening.

And you want to see if you can actually make some changes and consider what a person says. and improve your own product and service in some way. You want to know that before it’s just publicly out there in the form of a review saying, “this was not good, I didn’t like this,” you know, “don’t go to this place”, or “don’t try this particular dish”. Those kinds of things.

You want to catch those, you want to have a little net to catch those before they go out into the public.

That’s the reason you need to have a place for people to be able to contact you and share the feedback with you. And like I said, people may not share feedback, unless you ask it may not even occur to them. They may just be like, “okay, whatever. I had this and I’ll leave .” Even if the experience was good or bad, they may not actually share it with you.

At the restaurant, we’d created a feedback form that could be handed over to people at the end of their meal. When we were handing them the bill, around that time we would have the feedback form. At the end of their meal.

And it was a nice big feedback form, you know, not just this tiny little slip of paper that people put inside the bill folder and give. It was a nice, big A4 sheet with things to tick and check. As well as an empty box where people could also write how much they liked something. It was a mix of pointed questions, as well as a space for them to free write whatever their thoughts were.

That feedback form was gold for us!

Because when people praise you on it, or say, “oh my god, I love this specific thing, or this is the kind of experience I had”, it felt so good. And because you collected this positive feedback, you can actually take pictures of it and share it on your social media, website, things like that. People like to hear what those things are. You can choose and put whatever meaningful feedbacks are there out into the world.

And then if it has bad feedback, if it’s something that people didn’t like… It may not happen all the time, you know, if you’re going to work at keeping your product, service, everything top notch, excellent, then it’s very rare to get negative feedback or suggestions for improvements and stuff. There isn’t even space for that.

But yes, in those few rare cases that you do get it, what happens is, if by chance… now see a person can leave you negative feedback because of what you have provided them, or because they are just having a really bad day. It could be that, it could be as simple as that. And when you give them the option to directly provide you feedback, the frustration comes out right there.

So people could write, fill in that feedback form, “this was not good. I hated this. This was too spicy. I hated the music”, or whatever, you know.

They could put it out onto that paper and then just give it to us, and then that would diffuse the situation.

Because they’re like, “okay, these people are going to be reading it, so I have expressed myself.”

When you don’t do that, when you don’t give people the space to express their frustrations or express at a place when they are upset, that’s when you start getting negative reviews online. And you don’t want that. You know if somebody’s having a bad day, you don’t want to bear the brunt of that, by having your ratings affected online.

And online reviews are important, because other people are going to be reading it, and they are going to make their decision of whether to visit you or not, or try your product or service or not based on those reviews quite often.

So we started to notice that when we gave out feedback forms, we stopped getting any star rating that’s lower than four stars.

What happens is, people who are upset… we’ve noticed this, some people have this tendency to complain, tendency to be upset a lot. And when they are upset, they may even go to the point of creating an account. They wouldn’t have left a review for anybody in their life, but they will go and create an account on, you know, Zomato, Yelp, Google wherever, and then leave a negative review for you because they’re upset.

So giving people the feedback form, started ensuring that only the people were so happy, so delighted, they would leave us feedback also, and they would go and leave reviews online also. We started seeing that happen.

Whereas the ones who are just complaining, or who are frustrated, they would just fill it in the feedback form. And then they wouldn’t put in the effort of leaving anything online. Which is great. As a new business, this helps a lot having those good reviews. But that being said, I want to make it very clear…

If you get a negative online review, a lower star rating, don’t be upset, it’s not the end of the world.

A lot of new business owners that I coach, one of the key things that makes them feel really bad or upset is if somebody says something not-positive about them online, you know, publicly. And they feel so bad about it, they feel so upset. “Oh no, we have this two star rating.” Even three stars is average rating and they’re upset about it.

Don’t be upset about it, it’s okay. When you offer really good experiences to people, when you put in an effort to consciously run your business, and a person’s experience with the product or your service, whatever it is, feels really nice. And you do this consistently as much as possible, you know, you try your best, right?

When you do that, then over time, the positive reviews are going to far outweigh the negative ones.

The ones which are like “kainkainkain” (squeaky whining sound), you know, people whining and complaining, those are just not going to matter at all.

Those reviews you haven’t been able to put in that net and catch the feedback before it goes out publicly. Some negative reviews slip out of the net and go out into public… When that happens, you have to consider how a person has phrased it.

Where they are coming from? Is it an off day from your end where something was amiss, and you know, you didn’t really provide them that top notch service? Or that particular dish you sent wasn’t as tasty as normal? Is it something from your end? Or is it something from their end where they seem to be just complaining?

And then you respond. Now a lot of these online places there is a way to respond to these reviews. You respond selectively. This is something I was given grief about by everyone – my partners at the restaurant, some of my team members. They’re all like, “ma’am, why aren’t you, you know, responding to the negative or the complaining reviews? Why are you responding only to the good ones? The positive ones?”

I don’t care, honestly, because your time is precious. And when you’re responding to somebody, they need to be worth your time.

I would respond with a heartfelt thank you to all the four and five star reviews. If somebody gave three stars, and that review had something constructive in it, then I would still respond. Even if it was not the best of reviews, however, they didn’t do it in a whining, complaining way, but honestly spoke about a concern and felt that, you know, this is how it could be better, then I would respond to it.

And here’s the magic. I’ll tell you one example of what happened.

There was a couple who’d come into our restaurant. I had recommended a bunch of dishes and they had had all this food. And then they’d gone back and left a three star rating saying, “the food was not as spicy as I would have liked it to be. It is all right. But you know, a little bit of spice and kick would have been nicer.”

Now see, that was not just a simple complaint, right? Of course, it wasn’t a mistake from our end either. But neither was it just a simple whining or cribbing from the customer’s end. They honestly didn’t have the kind of experience with the food that they had expected.

So I responded to that saying, “Thank you for taking the time to leave this review for us. I’m glad you enjoyed the experience the food otherwise”, like, all the good things they’d said. And then I responded to the complaint about the food not being very spicy. I said, “Please come back and just tell our service staff that you would like your food to be spicy. And we would be happy to make it as spicy as you like. Don’t dismiss our restaurant based on your first experience, come back and try the food because since you liked everything else, you know, we will make it spicy for you and then it’s going to be much better experience for you.”

That person edited their review, increase the star rating, and then they explicitly said, “I had initially given a slightly lower star rating but I increased it because of the really nice way the owner has responded to us. So sweetly said that, ‘we can make the food spicier for you, and we can customise it the way you like it.’ And that kind of a response made me feel like increasing my star rating for them.”

So this was a situation where it was worth responding. Because it is important to make your customers, your potential customers, feel good, feel heard, right?

At the same time, there were a bunch of people… So I would say like, 95% of our reviews were good, like four stars, three and a half, four, five and up. There may have been some 5% over the years who gave one star, two stars and just complained, you know, “I didn’t like this, this was not good, blah, blah, blah.”

I would ignore most of them. I would be like, “this not worth responding to because it seems like they’re just complaining.” And in some cases, if the complaint was written not constructively, but still in, you know, maybe polite words, not just in whiny phrases, I would go and look up their profile and see if they had left any positive reviews at all, for any other restaurant.

And if they had then I would note that, “yes, this is particular to my restaurant, this experience that they had, so you know, let me respond to them.” But if all they had done is complain, complain, complain, complain… like there are people who if you go and look at their rating history, you’ll only see one star, two stars, one star, two stars. If they give three stars to someone that’s like, oh wow, you know, it’s like high praise coming from them. With such people I never used to bother. I used to just ignore the review and the rating.

It’s up to you to be discerning, and don’t be upset. See, don’t take anything personally. But when it is required take things seriously, the feedback and the reviews. And then if you must respond, respond mindfully and politely.

You don’t have to be defensive, you don’t have to justify, you don’t have to fight back.

Anything that makes you feel like doing that, then just keep it aside, don’t touch it. Only the ones where you know that you can respond politely or which you can take into consideration and you can make changes…

Like the spicy person. After that experience, my staff was trained to ask every single customer, “would you like it to be spicy, medium spicy, what is the spice level you prefer?” We would explicitly ask this to every single diner. And because of that, we never ever had a complaint again about the food not being spicy enough or being too spicy, none of that.

Just that one review and we knew how to handle it after that. So it can be very, very useful too, right? the feedback and the reviews can be very useful, the constructive ones.

So don’t feel bad. Don’t take things personally, but take things seriously. And when it comes to feedback and reviews, handle them with a lot of care. And, you know, a lot of cool headedness.

Yes of course, decide, “is this worth my time? Is this not worth my time?”

The most important thing when you’re running your business is your time, is your mental peace.

That is the most important thing. Because when you value your time and value your mental peace, and discerningly use your efforts where they’re meant to go, then your business will automatically start thriving, you’ll get better and better.

But if you start pulling yourself and putting your effort, your focus on things all over the place, everything, every single thing, then it’s going to just drain you out. And when you are drained out, your business gets drained out.

I’ve spoken about this in multiple episodes, you know, the one about taking time off for yourself, the one about delegation, and many, many episodes. I have repeated how important your energy, your vibration is to your business.

The happier you are, the more joyful you are, the more uplifted you are, the better your business is going to fare, it’s going to do well.

It’s going to impact the energy of the business, the energy of your team. And of course, then it ripples out into how your customers feel because of the way your team is interacting with them.

You know, the energy of the place also makes a person feel a certain way, so it’s really important to focus on yourself and maintain your energy levels. And for that, it’s important to decide where you want to put your energy and where it’s not worth looking into right away.

So yeah, that’s it for today. I think next week’s episode is going to be the last one in this series. I want to discuss Clear Communication and how that’s going to help you, as well as your team, as well as your customers.

Then I’m going to wind up the mini series about keeping your customers delighted while also maintaining your own sanity and joy.

Transcribed using Otter

Susmitha Veganosaurus

Shorth haired Indian lady, beaming a wide smile. Flowers in the background. Vegan business coach and chef Susmitha Veganosaurus

“I’m a Spiritual Vegan Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur. I read voraciously, find humour in most things, and believe kindness and authenticity can make this world a happier, loving place.

If my content resonates with you, join my free newsletter where I share Life and Business Tips, Vegan Hacks, Holistic Guidance, and more.

Vegan cuisine and holistic business building are my two biggest passions. If you’re looking for guidance with vegan cooking, or want to grow your conscious business with joy and fulfilment explore ways we can work togetherhere.”