As an Early Childhood Education professional, you work hard to ensure you and your staff provide excellent, quality care to the families you serve at your childcare center. When you receive a negative parent review of your program online, it can be very difficult not to take it personally. In the following article, we offer several practical tips for handling a negative parent review in order to mitigate effects on your business and achieve the best possible outcome.
How to Handle a Negative Parent Review
The following tips will help you handle a negative parent review for your childcare business.
Check Your Online Reviews Regularly
One of the most important things you can do for your childcare business is to regularly check in with your online presence to see whether you have received any new reviews. Parents may leave a review on Google My Business, Yelp, or social media sharing their personal experiences with your childcare services. Whether the reviews are positive or negative, you want to make sure you know what people are saying about your business.
When you come across a new review, make every effort to post a thoughtful reply. Regardless of what you think about the review, a parent has taken time out of their busy schedule to provide valuable feedback about your business. It is wise to acknowledge this feedback publicly with an appropriate response and gain insight into your strengths and weaknesses as a childcare provider.
What if you come across a negative review? While your initial feelings might be panic, frustration, embarrassment, or even anger, it is essential not to act on your initial emotions.
Remain Calm and Reasonable When You Come Across a Negative Review
The best thing to do when you come across a negative review is to remain calm and try to look at the review from a reasonable perspective. It can be so hard not to take the review personally, especially since some reviews seem harsher than others. However, do your best to take on an objective standpoint.
What is being communicated by the reviewer?
Is there any truth to what the reviewer is communicating?
Are you able to see the situation from the parent’s perspective and understand how he or she could have come to that conclusion?
Are facts being stated?
What kind of language is being used in the review? Is it matter-of-fact and polite or is it full of insults and assumptions?
These questions will help you look at the negative review professionally.
Check the Validity of the Negative Review
Also, be sure to check the validity of the negative review. Does the reviewer have a profile with a first and last name, or at least a first name and last initial? Is it someone you recognize as one of your childcare clients? Is the review written by someone who seems to know your childcare services, or is there no context at all to what he or she is communicating?
First, be sure the negative review is “real,” then proceed with the following.
Any review of your childcare business, and especially a negative one, requires a prompt response. Do your best to respond to a review within a business day, but not more than three business days. Since customer reviews play such an integral role in shaping other people’s perceptions about your Early Childhood Education business, you want to be sure that you are representing your business well with a timely, thoughtful, and professional response.
Even if a negative review is posted publicly for other prospective families to see, what’s even more important is that others see your response to the remarks. By responding to every review, you show clients that their feedback matters to you, and you show potential clients that you make every effort to address problems and provide quality childcare.
Address the Topic of Concern
When you respond to a negative parent review, begin by acknowledging the client’s experience and addressing the specific topic that has led him or her to write a negative review.
Apologize for the Reviewer’s Experience
Whether or not you agree with the reasoning behind the customer’s negative review, you can still offer an apology for the reviewer’s perceived negative experience. “I am sorry [name of your childcare business] has not lived up to your expectations in this matter,” or something similar often serves as a sufficient apology. Often, people simply want their problem acknowledged as important enough to warrant a response from the business.
Offer to Take the Matter Offline
Once you have addressed the topic of concern and apologized for the reviewer’s experience, offer to take the matter offline. You could respond with a general, “We would really like to take the steps necessary to resolve this issue. Would you kindly call us at [your business phone number], so we can speak further?” or you could reach out to the parent directly separate from your online response if you know the client well and want to initiate a conversation.
Taking the matter offline as soon as possible helps you keep the public interaction between you and the client as brief and professional as possible. Setting up an in-person meeting or phone call has the advantage of helping you get the full story and provide an appropriate response. At the very least, moving to a private form of communication eliminates more negative words from being written where other families can read them.
Find a Resolution, If Possible
Once you understand the problem, decide if you can offer a reasonable course of action or come up with a resolution that you and the client are happy with. We admit, it’s not possible to please everyone, and you may find that there is nothing you would change about how the initial situation was handled. As a result, a professional response to the online review is all that is required to lay the matter to rest and let the customer go.
If there is a possibility that something that wasn’t done initially could be done to rectify the complaint now, by all means, pose a solution. Sometimes, simply listening to a parent express their frustration is enough to help them feel heard and validated, reframing how they view your childcare business.
Ask the Reviewer to Consider Removing the Negative Review
If after following up, talking through the problem, and possibly finding a resolution, the parent seems satisfied with your response, consider asking them if they would remove the negative review.
Ask Your Childcare Families for Reviews
Finally, understand that while you can’t stop people from writing negative reviews online about your childcare business, you can encourage families who love your childcare center to share their feedback by writing positive reviews. The more positive reviews you get, the less significant a negative review will become in the overall big picture of your business’s public image. Since parents are busy and it often doesn’t occur to them to write a positive review on their own, feel free to incentivize them to share their feedback publicly. Enter each reviewer into a drawing to win a gift card, give a one-time discount to a family who leaves a review, or do whatever you can think of to motivate parents to share their comments with the community.
An important tip here: Even though it can be tempting to ask only for “positive” or “five-star” reviews, be careful that you request reviews in a way that doesn’t come across as fake or manipulative. Although you want as many positive, five-star reviews as possible, you don’t want to make parents feel like they are obligated to give you top marks. Simply explain how positive reviews help your childcare business, and leave it up to your families to provide the feedback that matters to them.
We understand receiving a negative review about your business is never fun. However, if you can refrain from taking the review personally, respond appropriately, and use it as a learning opportunity, you can gain valuable insights about your childcare program. We hope these tips will help you handle any negative reviews you may receive.
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