The Future Church - A Church Communications Podcast
Church Media + Communications
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E061 - Negative Feedback & Complaints

Joanna: This whole week we're going to be talking about what to do with negative feedback and complaints. So let's dive in.

James: So Joanna let's start with the easy one which I think is the most popular place to kind of see reviews which would be Google Reviews. I mean I've left a lot of google reviews on restaurants when I've visited. And it's mostly all positive I'd say ninety nine out of 100 of them positive. There's been a few times where I've gone a small little kind of hole in the wall restaurants even close to my home here which are kind of in the middle of nowhere and I had a really great experience and I feel like leaving a good review helps that business. So my wife and I went out for dinner a couple of weeks ago. It was this place we just happen to drive by we don't even know is there. And it was really awesome like it was great food was a great atmosphere. The owner was the person running it and I think as a fellow business owner I like really felt for that person running this small little restaurant with seating for like 10 people. And so I left this big long positive Google Review that's all just hoping that someone...

Joanna: That is your good deed for the day James.

James: Good deed. But like honestly people are always quick to leave negative feedback and very slow to leave good feedback and that's why we're going to talk about this week on how do we deal with negative reviews. I see on Facebook all the time people saying how should I proceed with this, someone just left a scathing review of our church we don't even know this person we don't even know if they went but sometimes there are just people out there looking to leave negative feedback and maybe sometimes it is valid. So how do we proceed? How do you proceed Joanna at our church?

Joanna: Yeah. Well I often say if you if you're bored and want a good laugh go on any churches Google Reviews and read all the one star reviews because they're pretty funny. They're funny if they didn't happen to you is maybe a better way of saying it. And that's probably true of a lot of businesses. It's funny if it didn't happen to you. Yeah I mean it's this weird day and age where people can review you and you have no opportunity to respond in a meaningful way. You can't reply to them. You can't really contact them. You may know who the person is who left the review but you often don't because they use sort of pseudo names. And so we've definitely had our share of negative reviews and we can talk about positive reviews too. But the focus of this week is really more than negative stuff. Generally my overall philosophy about negative reviews that are public about your church is or your business is that I think they sort of speak for themselves. A lot of the time meaning that often they are a little bit unreasonable. They sound a little bit like they're there, what they're talking about is usually beyond what you're possibly able to deliver to them. And I think often that they speak for themselves in terms of sometimes you don't need to defend them or do anything because I think if you look at the the full scope of reviews you have as a church there are always going to be some negative ones and they may get under your skin but there's gonna be a ton of positive stuff. And I think that if someone's trying to find your church unless you have like a very toxic scenario going on in your church culture the negative reviews I think speak more about the person who left the review than they do about the place that they left their review on. If you know you know what I'm saying?

James: Yeah absolutely. Even I mean if you read through some of them you and I have done it before and you can tell when there's maybe other issues going on in that person's life and they're looking for a place to vent sometimes. Maybe that's all they feel like they can, that's the only place that they can be heard which is kind of why sometimes a church exists. And I think maybe sometimes you will focus too much on wanting to have this perfect score on a Google Review like it can only be positive and I mean there is no perfect church. And if the churches for broken people you're going to have negative reviews because broken people can be easily hurt and are going to have other issues that they're going to bring to the table.

Joanna: I think that negative reviews actually lend credibility to your church as a whole. If every review you have is positive, positive, positive, and a five star review it doesn't make it believable. Of course there are going to be some less than perfect experiences and negative experiences that people have. And so actually what a negative review does is actually give credibility to the positive reviews. So there's some negative reviews some of them seem a little bit unreasonable a little bit sad a little bit crazy. But then what it does really is set up the positive reviews to sound so much more authentic because it's not just we have only perfect five star reviews. It gives credibility to the entire reviewing process when you see some negative among some positive. And people are more likely to believe the positive ones I think than the negative.

James: Even one of my old businesses Jo got a negative review once and what was funny about it is it was a it was a film company and we really only had like five clients and we knew them very intimately like they were like the same five we had like this ongoing great relationship. And then some random person left a negative you just saying "this business sucks". And I was like this person isn't even a client like this just some person who was typing and just trolling. Just typing into Google either it was a competitor or just someone who had an axe to grind with the world and left the negative review and I kind of had to just shrug it off because it was no way to contact this person and I knew all of our clients were really happy. And so it's a valuable lesson to learn that just sometimes you just have to kind of actually just let it go. Like there are gonna be people who don't like what you do for various reasons and if you get hung up on that you start focusing on the negative and not focusing on all the people that you are helping. It's very easy to focus in on one person and forget there's a thousand over here that are actually loving what the church is doing. So focus on the positive people focus on the things that are going that you are doing well and not get drawn down by one person's negative thoughts. And I mean if that is if you read the review and it feels very legitimate that there was some issue that maybe happened between people or something that happened like you can, I would say reach out. Absolutely.

Joanna: Yeah. If you if you can identify who it is and we'll talk more about that when we go further into the week about complaints and feedback that we get that has a name attached to it.

James: Absolutely. And I find that the ones that tend to be a little far fetched often will be a pseudonym right like it won't be the real person whereas someone actually has a real concern. They'll probably leave their name because they actually want to deal with it. And so I think that's how you can filter through what's real and what's not.

Joanna: That's right.