Today we had the first review on our company since we moved offices. All our previous reviews have been removed courtesy of a very strange Google requirement that online businesses have a photo of their shop-front showing their company name, but we were very excited to see that someone had been on to Google and left us a review at our new office address. Unfortunately when we clicked through to read it, it was a 1 star review that had been left by a disgruntled caller. Basically this caller had tried ringing us “throughout the day” and had not been able to get through. In his own words, “what is the point in having a contact centre number if no-one can get through?”
This again highlights the problem with online reviews and enabling other people to have control over your business and its performance on search engines such as Google.
Our particular business is legal recruitment and we are a small niche company dealing in small numbers with relatively decent quality clients and candidates at a relatively senior and professional level.
Although we do have a telephone number and we answer the phone throughout the day and during office times, we do only need one line, and this line is answered by our directors and consultants. If one of us is on the phone then it is inevitable that anybody trying to phone in will get an engaged tone, which is exactly what this caller did. In fact his claim that he had been calling throughout the day was utterly incorrect. He had actually been calling for the grand total of 8 minutes, during which I had been on phone duty and had just popped out of the office to get changed. I could add that I went to the toilet but this would be too much information.
So as a result of me just popping out of the office, taking the phone off the hook and putting it on engaged, our company received a 1 star review on Google. This is in fact our only review so far, so needless to say I was a little bit disgruntled to find that this is what we had picked up as a result of my very temporary absence.
I immediately emailed the disgruntled caller, as he had left an email address in one message asking us to get in touch with him, and told him I would ring him back and apologised for the inconvenience. I rang the following day and spoke to the caller, who had basically been getting in touch with us for some free advice.
He wanted to know which of our competitors I would recommend he got in touch with in relation to a particular vacancy as it was pretty obvious we were not specialists at all. I gave him this information, as we always do (being nice), and then asked him if he’d be so kind as to remove the 1 star review he had left of our business on Google. The caller sounded very embarrassed and promised to do so forthwith. So now our 1 star review has been upgraded to a 4 star review (4 out of 5), and our company is no longer looking as bad as it did 24 hours ago.
It did get me thinking though as to whether if I am unable to get through to a business in future, I ought to just go on to Google, leave a 1 star review and sit back and wait for the managing director of that business to get in touch with me to apologise profusely and find out how he can be of assistance. This particular caller’s technique worked really well, but it was infuriating and all of us were so cross that he had left this review on the site, so callously without actually thinking through the consequences that such reviews can have on online businesses.
We all use reviews to make decisions about purchasing online, sometimes with good results and sometimes with really bad results due to fake reviews or an interpretation of a review that is incorrect. However leaving a review because you’re unable to phone somebody for 10 minutes has to be, surely, a little bit OTT, and we had all kinds of plans drawn up if the caller had refused to remove his 1 star review.
At our last office address we had a 1 star review left by a disgruntled candidate who had used us many years before and had born a grudge throughout this time and left us a terrible review, completely out of the blue years later that was not even true. At the time I did not name the person but simply responded, but looking back I do wonder now whether the right approach when you get a review that is utterly unfair and perhaps bordering on ridiculous, to actually name the person who has left it and make reference to their identification and contact details so other people can be aware that they’re capable of leaving thoroughly unpleasant reviews that are potentially damaging to a business.
Of course the key to successful business with reviews is to generate lots and lots of happy customers, but in this case the reviewer was not a customer but rather a user of free information, which made the review all the more infuriating.
This article was dictated into an iPhone and transcribed by TP Transcription Limited, specialist transcribers for business bloggers.
Jonathan Fagan is MD of Ten-Percent.co.uk Limited and TP Recruitment Limited, a set of websites involved in a range of recruitment work. Jonathan has been running small businesses for over 20 years and has a number of interests and investments in companies as diverse as transcription, legal recruitment and a bit of marketing. He is an author of a number of guides and books, together with a children’s novel. In his spare time he enjoys playing golf, cricket, coaching girls’ football, operating a parent taxi, lots of running and paddleboarding on Bala Lake and the River Dee. He is a strong believer in a good work-life balance and regular blogs on making money vs enjoying life. Jonathan’s website is https://www.jonathanfagan.co.uk