This Valentine’s Day morning I woke up bright and early and was looking forward to an exercise class before I started work. I had a press release queued up for 3am so I quickly scanned my email to ensure that it went out and was being picked up by the media. And that’s when I noticed an email from a work friend, alerting me to a blog post. “Brace yourself,” it said, alongside a link. Never thinking that the article was going to be about me or my work, I clicked the link and started scanning the post. It took me a minute to understand what I was reading because, let’s face it, it’s not every day that someone criticizes your work. Among other things, the post criticized the language in the press release and other marketing copy that I use to promote our product. The author also took a jab at our Twitter and Facebook presence, claiming that we don’t practice what we preach and questioned the vailidity of online reviews. Ouch, ouch, ouch and OUCH.
So what did I do? Of course the first thing I did was scream a couple of explatives. Then I sent the link to my team so they knew I was on top of it. And then I calmed down and reread the article. As I read I tried to classify the author’s arguments as true, fair or baseless. There were a few of each.
I then penned a response. My goal was to be honest, human and not defensive. I didn’t need to address every point but I also didn’t want to roll over on the big issues since I very much believe in what we do at Revinate. Before I posted my comment, I sent it to my boss for review. He caught a typo but otherwise thought the response was spot-on. Here is what I said,
Creating the best product for the industry and being responsive to customer needs comes before any of our outbound marketing efforts. As any of our customers will attest, we are incredibly responsive and eager to help with free training and support, at any time. I urge you to look at our blog, press and our best practices documents where we focus a great deal of our marketing time and efforts helping the industry understand the digital landscape. While I wouldn’t say the cobbler’s child has no shoes, your point is well made and a visit to your Facebook Page made me chuckle. Thanks for the food for thought.
However, I have to disagree with you about our technology not mattering in months. Are reviews going away? Are hoteliers going to stop caring what guests think about their experiences? Will consumers stop sharing their recommendations and tips on social networks? I don’t think so. We collect reviews from ‘verified review sources’ as well as ‘unverified review sources’ but regardless of the source, the data is public and highly read so hoteliers need to care. And yes, they are monitoring in real time and responding as issues arise. That’s what hospitality is all about.
At the same time that I posted the comment, I also reached out to the author via email. I said:
Good morning. I hope you’re doing well. I just commented on your article but wanted to reach out personally in case you want to chat or get any more information. While your article provided a rough start to my morning (and on Valentine’s Day, no less ;) I appreciate the sentiment and the work you do to help marketing/pr folks and hope we have the opportunity to meet/speak soon. Thank you!
The author responded quickly to both my comment and to my email. In his email response he thanked me for reaching out and said that he would very much like to test Revinate for a future review and was interested in following Revinate news. He also made sure that I knew his intention wasn’t to cause pain, which of course, I knew.
And that’s all I could’ve hoped for. From a bad review I was able to show him that I care about my work and that I’m passionate about what we do at Revinate. I’m looking forward to walking him through a demo and getting his feedback on the product. Everyone has something to learn from criticism and these days a bad review can come when you least expect it – – even on Valentine’s Day.
Of course, what’s funny about this situation is that Revinate helps clients deal with their online reputation by monitoring and analyzing online reviews and social media mentions. I now know exactly what it feels like to get a bad review. But I have also proven that it’s possible to turn a tough situation into an opportunity, through thoughtful engagement and an ability to see your short comings. Rather than becoming defensive, it’s always a better idea to look at issues with a desire for constant improvement and the openness to change your ways.