Can dealing with negative customer interactions actually help your business?

perrysto Community Leader Posts: 3

In response to a recent question from another Community member about why Thumbtack doesn't allow us to rate customers, like other platforms such as Uber:

I am a fellow Pro and have had moments of frustration with this myself, thinking rating customers would be beneficial as well. I have since changed my perspective on the subject, let me explain why...

Customers want...

  • quality
  • their need(s) met
  • value
  • affordability
  • to deal with a service that cares about their satisfaction

Customers determine this by...

  • evaluating reviews
  • looking for referrals
  • evaluating how the business deals with other customers
  • evaluating the product/service

The Uber example is a great one because passenger ratings provide a level of assurance to both the driver and the passenger. These ratings are particularly valuable because the average Uber passenger takes 5.7 trips per month and most customers remain active for years, meaning there are tens (even hundreds) of interactions to rate.

This is not as cut and dry with Thumbtack as the overwhelming majority of customers will not return to the platform for a similar/repeat service (ex: if a Pro provides service that lends itself to repeat bookings - like a therapist, personal trainer, etc - the client will not return to the platform for subsequent bookings). So, the ability to produce the type of volume in ratings that makes the Uber system so valuable is not as easy on Thumbtack.

The platform has evolved over time and it is clear that the focus is on making the customer experience as seamless and user-friendly as possible. The tradeoff is that the process may not weed out as many undesirable interactions as it could otherwise, but it should provide us Pros far more opportunities to put our services in front of new/potential customers. Ultimately, I believe this is a good thing for our businesses and it honestly took me quite some time to appreciate this perspective.

As an example, many businesses on Yelp have expressed the same concerns, but I find Thumbtack far more advantageous for bringing in quality leads for my business. I think all systems have their pros and cons, so hopefully such undesirable interactions are a rarity and not the norm on the platform.

It should also be noted that it is universally believed that ratings of 4.8 and 4.9 (for instance) serve to provide far more confidence in potential customers than a perfect 5-star rating. When customers "evaluate" ratings, they are not just looking at glowing feedback, but also looking at negative feedback and how the business addresses it. If you are anything like me, I tend to read negative reviews first when considering a product or service - the feasibility of the information provided in that review and the way the business responds tells me how confident I can be in my overall satisfaction. So as long as you continue to provide quality service and professionally address situations like this particular client you experienced - potential customers will know you are a real person who cares about delivering quality service - that will instill trust and they will be forgiving of a few undesirable reviews.

Hope this helps and here if I can provide any further support.


  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 1,387

    @PSD, @ycc, @Aden, @patrykkg, @Danielle_Penn, @BITBLeah, @PomeranzLaw, @CurlyBartender, @Filip_Matic, @Noble_Canon, @BrySlaughterMedia, @Mage, @jusmith4, @nickspainting20, @bgood2021, @PlexMultiserviceLLC, @Qbish

    I just resurfaced this interesting discussion thread that was started a while back by @perrysto. I was thinking about this after working with one of our Community Leaders on a negative review. That review was removed because it violated Thumbtack's terms of use - but I remember back when I was running a business and getting my first negative review. It stung so hard, but I did learn a lot from it and I think that my response to that customer helped me moving forward.

    What do you all think about this topic? What have you learned from negative interactions? Would love to hear your best tips for dealing with this for our new pros that will be entering the Community!

  • Mage
    Mage Posts: 114

    Yes I would have to agree that the way we address negative reviews can really help to show how we handle difficulties. One thing that I know as a business owner is that we can’t be everything for everyone, and it’s important to set expectations upfront, but even then, there will still be a few complaints. Learning how to tactfully deal with them while following your business policies can help to ensure that each customer, even former ones, is handled respectfully.

  • PomeranzLaw
    PomeranzLaw Community Leader Posts: 32

    Great post @perrysto and thank you @DustiO for resurfacing this topic.

    Reviews are powerful.

    In a personal service industry such as law, prospective clients only have so much information to make a decision on whom to contact. Reviews are the entry point. At least half of the initial consultations I have with prospective clients include the person stating some form of the following - “you have really great reviews”.

    The idea of learning from mistakes is actually a topic that likely warrants its own thread; however, in the context of negative reviews, it’s important to distinguish between reviews based on actual work product and those people leave for another reason (or no reason at all). As previously noted, leaving a concise response that offers a positive spin and not defensive position is likely the best you can do. What can be difficult, though, is if the review has no semblance of truth and is intended solely to negatively impact the recipient (in Florida, this is known as defamation per se). A separate communication to the reviewer may help and/or a take-down notice from an attorney. As @Mage notes, we cannot be everything to everyone and one negative review among a sea of positive feedback may be the only thing you can do.

  • Negative reviews are never fun but they are always enlightening. Sometimes you don't realize you are doing something wrong, or different until someone speaks up. Nevertheless, building on negative reviews, replying to them, understanding where your client is coming from, and trying your best to fix the issue will ultimate make you a better businessman or woman and show not only that client but other clients that you are truly professional! Good customer service goes a long way!

  • ycc
    ycc Posts: 11

    I agree with all the prior comments -- I'd also like to offer a couple of specific examples that we have experienced that counter the above.

    Out of all the reviews we have received over the years, we have had literally 2 instances of negative reviews being posted by fraudulent posters. In both cases we researched the reviews extensively and determined in both cases that the reviewers were in fact competitors of ours, and not customers or prospects. While not a significant percentage compared to all our other reviews, the extreme negative rating of 1 out of 5 in both cases can drive our overall average significantly lower on certain web sites. So, to make lemonade out of lemons we now use these fake 2 negatiive reviews as marketing opps on our website, in preliminary conversations with prospects, and in media. While initially annoying, these negative reviews have at times aided in conversion of a prospect to a repeat customer.

    In our business we count on, and market to, repeat customers as a significant part of our recurrent revenue stream. I estimate a good 30-45% of customers we obtain via Thumbtack continue to use Thumbtack to communicate with us for further service (it's easy to remember, and most folks dislike change of any kind so if they found us via Thumbtack then they use that mechanism for ongoing service requests). Similarly, we get a high percentage of false leads -- specifically, people who post a request on behalf of someone else -- these are false leads since the poster is seldom the owner / payor, and seldom has sufficient information or authorization to proceed with even a basic conversation about the request. So, in our case, being able to rank customers (and prospects) would be highly beneficial -- this aids in being able to determine whether a prospect is a looky-loo, rate-shopper, not a true prospect / not the owner, someone who wants platinum service for next-to-nothing rates / free, etc. This is in fact one main reason why we are very cautious about accepting / paying for a lead on Thumbtack now that the fee rates are significantly higher (in our case) than other our other modes of lead identification, and, similarly lower conversion rates of prospect to paying customer.

  • Mage
    Mage Posts: 114

    Good point @PomeranzLaw! I never thought about the possibility of asking an attorney to take down a bad review that was solely attended for defamation–of course you would know! I have been lucky with the reviews for the most part. I made sure to positively address a review in which I was unable to provide the service the customer wanted and even made recommendations if he or any other customer wanted to find other Pros. 😎

  • Mage
    Mage Posts: 114
    edited June 2021

    @ycc a lot of my leads that convert continue using Thumbtack for communication too! Yes I agree that it would be helpful for us to know whether we have a “serious shopper” or a “price shopper”! 😆

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 1,387

    Would love to have you all enter this Community contest (for some pretty cool Thumbtack swag)!

  • I would Have to Agree, Because Failure is Opportunity For Growth., & How are you supposed to Grow A company or yourself without Challenges.

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 1,387

    Would love to get everyone's thoughts on rewards - please go answer this poll!

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 1,387

    This topic came up during a Digital Marketing webinar this morning, and I wanted to resurface this conversation, because I find it so insightful!

  • Mage
    Mage Posts: 114

    Good call, @DustiO! I entered the recent webinar late, and I wish I had gotten there earlier because I am currently dealing with a difficult–but loyal–client, and I think having a firm business policy and sensible boundaries really helps. Also being fair and sticking to that policy helps me set those boundaries; I will admit that I tend to attempt to cater to customers, but we cannot be everything to everyone, right? 😆 ⭐️ I want to share something though: each "negative" experience helps me strengthen my business policy! 🙌🏽 ❓ How 'bout y'all pros: do you have a business policy too?

  • DustiO
    DustiO Administrator Posts: 1,387

    I wanted to bump this up again, because tis is such a great post from one of our Community members and Thumbtack pros!