Have you heard of KlearGear? If you work in a cubicle you may have. Basically, they sell novelty items. The type found in cubicles and offices throughout the country. Some of it is actually pretty amusing. What’s not so amusing (at least to them) is how they totally screwed themselves using Social Media.
As reported in TechCrunch, KlearGear received some bad reviews online. Notice how I didn’t say “unwarranted”. The review may or may not have been 100% correct, but that doesn’t matter. What matters in business, especially in e-commerce, is perception.
Whether they deserved the new hole this woman gave them in her review is beside the point. The simple fact is every business is in the business of Customer Service and Public Relations (at least they should be). In this case, KlearGear took the complete opposite approach to dealing with criticism and may have just ruined their business because of it.
The same could be said for Cheaper Than Dirt. Cheaper Than Dirt is an online and catalog store selling gun accessories, supplies and actual guns. However, in the wake of the mass-shooting tragedy in Connecticut, they immediately released a statement saying they were no longer selling guns (You can read a very blunt and profanity laden opinion piece here). That’s understandable, but when your clientele is made up of gun enthusiasts and 2nd Amendment supporters, it should be handled in a delicate manner. Needless to say, their abrupt announcement did not go over well with their customers who saw the move as a slap in the face to law abiding gun owners. However, the real problem came days later.
Amidst the backlash, Cheaper Than Dirt did nothing. Then, days later, they made it worse by backpedaling their stance and further confusing the matter with conflicting statements about whether they do or would sell guns. Again, it was a mess in a very public forum. To this day, the whole situation is shrouded in a cloud of confusion and many former customers have vowed to never shop there again. It was a PR blunder that quite possibly could have been corrected had it not been improperly addressed from the start. It was seen as a knee-jerk reaction to gun control issues and it was made worse by their public wavering on the issue.
The bottom line is this: You can’t ignore bad reviews. They exist. People will be upset from time to time. What truly matters is how you deal with those incidents. Those bad reviews can be used to turn a bad situation around and end up with a customer for life. Beyond that, since it does take place in such a public forum, when you respond quickly and work to “make it right”, other potential customers get a look at how you do business. They see that you truly care about your customers and that leaves a positive impression.