Reviewed Their Service. The Founder Called Me. He Took The Wrong Way.

Online reviews are trusted by 79% of consumers.  Every year, the number of companies using a review system gets bigger. Today, you can see this measurement of the customer experience being used by airlines, restaurants, hotels or online shops. That’s not a surprise by now, but the other day I received a customer review email from my pharmacy! Really. 

Reviews are good but companies often don’t make actions based on the insights gained from them. That’s the real issue.  Only 14% of organisations do something or make some changes after analysing customer feedback.

How many times were you contacted by someone at a company after you reviewed their product or service? The reality is that it doesn’t happen often. no matter if you leave a positive or a negative review.

My experience

“Every man should plant a tree, have a child and write a book”

Attributed to the Talmud, this is one of those quotes that most people heard once in their lives. Looking at my personal case, I planted a tree one day when I was at school and I have two lovely kids. But writing a book isn’t easy. Not that having a child is the simplest thing in the world; but for any reason, there are a lot of people that tick the first two boxes and never check the last one. I did.

Recently, my eldest son and myself wrote a book together. I worked mostly in the text listening to his advice. He made all the illustrations. This is the result:


Nice he! Of course I am not going to give too much detail about the story, you would need to buy it to find out what it is about. 🙂

To get it printed in a book format, I did my research and found a couple of online tools that allowed me to do so. The one I used wasn’t the best looking interface but it had less formatting requirements than other I tried. I thought it would be ok. I uploaded my pdf, made a separate cover, adjusted everything as best as I could and ordered the book online. Few days later we’ve got our book delivered at home. Great!

Result was good but ideally, the picture and text on the cover could have been a bit more aligned to the right. Something that I couldn’t see in the preview when I was working on the layout as their system didn’t show properly the location of the folds of the cover. Also, the title on the interior of the book was printed on the left side of it. Normally you see it on the right on every book, you pass the page and the story starts. I also couldn’t see this in their preview.

Overall, I was satisfied with my book but wished someone could have reviewed it before printing it to make sure those little things could be corrected.

Got an email to review

A few days later I received an email from this company to review their service. Cool. I like it. So, I went ahead and submitted it basically saying what I mentioned above; satisfied about the result but saying that I thought it could have been better if they would review it before printing. After all, they make books, and it shouldn’t be just like printing a normal document.

In their review survey, they asked about overall satisfaction, things they did best and things they didn’t do that well. There was also a question in the review: “Would you recommend us?” The problem it wasn’t the question, it was the answer. This wasn’t and NPS.  Yes, it was the same question but it didn’t come with a 0 to 10 evaluation scores. There were only two possible answers: “Yes” or “No”.

After thinking for a while, I thought that if I had to make a book again, I would probably go to a printing shop where they could advice me on those things about the layout and make sure it was going to be perfect, even if I had to pay more.

Coming back  to that question; that would be also what I would recommend to a friend. This website was ok, but if you want perfect results, go to a shop. So, I answered with a “No” because I couldn’t answer with a “Yes”.

I get a call… and it is from the founder

Few days after submitting my review I get a call. Is the founder of that company, he says I left a very negative review and wanted to know what went wrong. Good that someone is taking action I thought. I tried to explain the reason but he started to be rude. This was a Dutch company and he was Dutch. There is one thing I like about living in The Netherlands and it is the very well known Dutch directness. It makes it easier to make things happen and there is not bullshit around. They tell you what it is as it really is.

But sometimes, Dutch people being so direct can be perceived as very rude or even aggressive by other people. When it comes to customer service, this doesn’t work; it doesn’t work at all. You can find many examples if you look around of bad customer experiences in The Netherlands just because of this.

So, the guy was very frustrated because of my “negative review”. I said that my intention was to write a constructive review to help them improve. He got even more upset.

Then he told me these nice things:

  • “I want to persuade you to recommend us” Wrong. You cannot persuade me of anything. I am the customer. You can try to understand why I made those comments, try to fix it and ask nicely if I would change my mind regarding recommending them.
  • “You are Spanish, you don’t speak Dutch but everything it is explained on the website”. Assumption is the worse thing to do with customers, and using it in a negative way like this can really damage the relationship. 
  • When I said that I do speak Dutch he replied: “obviously you don’t speak it well enough”. Again, talking bad about your customer doesn’t help, especially if the end purpose of your call is to made him change his mind to finally recommend your service.
  • “You have a customer service that you should contact if there is something wrong. It is your fault, not ours.” The problem is that I didn’t know that something was wrong. It was the first time I was using their service, their interface didn’t help and you can’t see the final result as their preview is just bad quality.
  • “I am asking you again to recommend us.” Seriously? Do you think I ever will do talking to me like that?
  • “Then I am asking you to not to call us or order anything never again”. At this point, obviously I wasn’t going to use their service anymore, but you never, never can say something like that to a customer; especially if again the main reason for that is that he doesn’t want to recommend you.

I told him that they could delete my review if they wanted to, that I actually didn’t know that it was going to be published on their website. But I also denied his kind invitation to recommend them once again. 

The difference between not recommending and a negative review

What this founder didn’t understand is that not recommending your services doesn’t mean that the customer isn’t happy about it. Recommending is going the extra mile. It is being highly satisfied with the service and when you ask that question in your surveys, you need to accept you will get all kind of responses.

On their website, they claim that 99% of their customers recommend them. Maybe I am that 1 %, but I really doubt that figure is true. Even if most of the people will answer that question with a yes, just because they are satisfied with the result, doesn’t mean that they will effectively recommend their service. Plus I hardly believe 99% of respondents answer “Yes” to that question.

When you have “No” as the only other option, that delivers a negative connotation. People will be more likely to say yes, even if they would never talk to their friends and family about you.

NPS for a more accurate customer experience

Why Net Promoter Score is a better way to measure the customer experience? It gives you a more real. Maybe  not 100% perfect, but this system gives you a more realistic view on how you are doing in terms of CX. Giving only “Yes” or “No” as options, gives you the following results:

  1. If your answer is Yes: not all people responding yes would actually promote you and your service.
  2. if your answer is No: not all people that wouldn’t recommend your service are detractors.

Basically, you are missing a lot of information here.

Using NPS asking your customers to evaluate from 0 to 10 heir experience, will give you slightly different results:

  1. You will get Promoters: customers rating your service with a 10 or a 9 will be likely to actually talk in a positive way about your brand and service to others.
  2. You will get Neutral ratings: customers rating with an 8 or a 7 won’t talk about you. They may be happy about their experience with you, but not as much as talking about it in a positive or negative way.
  3. You will get Detractors: people answering with a 6 or any lower number will be likely to talk in a negative way about that experience.

Reviews are great, if used in a good way

It is great that a company asks customers for feedback. Either if they use a review system that it is published online to build trust and increase sales; or just surveying consumers for internal purposes in order to keep improving their service. Getting feedback from customers is the best source of information you can have if your goal is to deliver excellent experiences.

You can always improve on what you do. Your customers can always tell you how their experience was. You should be thankful to them for buying your product and taking the time to complete that review. Your main purpose should be to understand where you can improve and try to change people minds based on how you treat customers and not by just asking them to do so.

Did you have any experience like this? It would be great to hear from you. Please share this article if you liked it and if not please let me know your thoughts, it is always great to get feedback to keep improving. 😉







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