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Your Employee Gets Called Out In an Online Review. Now What?

Pick one, quick.

Your company has just received a negative review. One where the customer says some

pretty terrible things about one of your employees.

Your employee is an all-star as far as you're concerned. On the other hand, your customer

may be right. Both your employees and customers expect you to pick a side.

Get it wrong and you may do lasting damage to your business, customer and employee relationships.

Customer vs. Employee: Whose side do you take?

Side with customers and you risk creating anger and bitterness in the ranks. Team

morale drops as employees start to believe you don't care about them.

On the other hand…

Side with employees in your rebuttal and you make a bad situation worse. You infuriate

your customer and you send a message to prospective customers that you simply won't

take care of them.

It's a no win situation.

If you're inexperienced, you do the "smart" thing

You run.

You ignore, evade or hide from the conversation. You do everything you can to avoid

facing the problem. On the surface that seems like cowardice.

But, it's a smart move.

The last thing you want is to end up in a toxic altercation with your employee and your

customer. That would be terrible for all kinds of reasons. Saying nothing is easier when

you don't know what to say or how to say it.

It's completely understandable.

But, in many cases, it's also the wrong move. Because your silence communicates a

message to your employees and customers - a message you don't get to control.

Silence sends messages like…

★ "They don't care about their customers"

★ "I can't trust these guys"

★ "They'll hurt me"

★ "They're ____ and that's bad"

Your silence is a breeding ground for bitterness and resentment - on both sides. It seems

like the smart thing but it actually encourages employees and customers to fill-in-the-blanks.

A better option?

Make a stupid decision. Start a fight instead.

When people hear the word "fight" their minds tend to go to dark and unpleasant places.

We think about abuse, fear, dysfunction, toxicity.

That's the problem.

When we fight, we focus our attention on a "who" which inevitably leads to disaster. What

if, instead of fighting a who, you decided to fight a what?

Focusing on the "what" creates freedom.

Your employees want you to take their side. The customer expects you to take theirs.

They're both focused on a "who."

Which "what" do you fight first?

It isn't just about fighting a "what" it's about fighting the right "what."

The right "what?"

Let's look at the Home Depot in Bellevue, WA for an example.

1. Procedures. The wrong procedures create customer/employee conflicts.

Poor procedures like these create conflict, putting customers and employees at odds

with each other. So, how do you fix this? As management, you apologize, taking

responsibility for the poor procedure that lead to this conflict. Then, you make it right.

2. Structure. Your offer, product or service structured in a way that creates aggression or


See the recurring theme? Customers want help with a particular problem (e.g. customer

service, fulfillment, etc.) but they're not hearing back/getting help from staff in a timely

fashion. It would be easy to automatically assume these employees are lazy, poorly

trained, etc. What if they're overwhelmed?

So, how do you fix this? Start by determining whether employees are overworked or not. If

there aren't enough employees to cover busy periods, customers won't be happy. Look

for structural problems that create conflict (e.g. understaffed, overworked, undertrained).

Apologize to customers, address the problem, then work to restore the relationship.

3. Mismatch. Customers want A . You're