Week ten – A reasonable response

14 to 20 November

Recently I’ve heard a number of business owners, operating in a variety of sectors both in North Devon and from beyond, expressing concern about the nature of some reviews and complaints, especially on the internet. Reviews on the internet can be very powerful when researching a product or a service, but they can also be very damaging if not accurate.

The idea of reviewing businesses and services is a good one when reviews are fair, based in reality and in perspective. Unfortunately, more business owners seem to be experiencing extreme comments, some bearing little resemblance to actual events and apparently written in high emotion. Not only do these comments hurt business owners, who very often try their utmost to rectify any genuine issues, but they reduce the trustworthiness of these types of review.

To ensure reviews can be trusted and taken at face value, they must be realistic, written in an even-tempered tone and truthful. If not, how can a reader tell fact from fiction? The reviews become meaningless and lose value. They stop being useful to customers looking for information they can trust.

It’s important to be courteous both when we are giving a compliment or making a complaint: we must have experienced a product or service ourselves to make any statement about a specific business.

It’s also important to remember that no business is perfect. However good its systems and procedures, however dedicated and committed its people, things can always go wrong. What makes a difference is that people in the business recognise this, try to put things right and strive to improve continuously. Sometimes they might not even be aware that something is wrong. Are we all aware of everything at all times?

So in week 10, let’s focus on being courteous when talking about businesses we use. If something goes wrong, offer the business the opportunity to put it right. If we do feel it appropriate to criticise, let’s peak or write in a balanced manner.

Polite prompts in our courtesy toolkit discuss how to reduce customer complaints, resolve complaints courteously and how to complain courteously.

We want to use courteous businesses and businesses want courteous customers.

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