You are in the daily whirlwind of errands, organising the work of the school, managing substitutions, and student billing, and suddenly you see a notification in your email about a new review on Google – 1 star. What do you do? Are you prepared for this?

Your courses are in full swing, your students are well looked after, and have formed an opinion about your language school, so it’s the perfect time to ask for feedback about your school. We’ve already written about when, and how, to conduct a student satisfaction survey on our blog – you’re welcome to do so.

As well as collecting feedback in surveys, it’s also worth asking for public feedback on Facebook or Google. Amid a bunch of satisfied customers and complimentary reviews, you may always come across one that is negative and discouraging of your services. Importantly, the more positive reviews on your business profile, the single negative ones will not matter, as they will be lost in the thicket of your satisfied customers. Nevertheless, it is natural that, despite a whole list of positive reviews, when your potential customer is looking for information about your language school, he or she will certainly check the worst ones and, even more importantly, check how you respond to negative feedback about your work.

Whether it is a genuinely disgruntled customer or the actions of an unfair competitor, no negative comment should go unanswered.

For every crisis, you should prepare yourself so that you are not caught off guard. This article will help you develop a strategy in the event of a negative comment so that you do not look for a solution with emotions and do not respond to the comment with nerves or agitation.

1. Where to look for feedback about yourself?

The best thing to do is to create an index or directory of sites and portals where your school’s business profiles and social networks have been set up and, wherever possible, enable yourself to be notified by e-mail when a new comment is made. This will allow you to keep your finger on the pulse and systematically monitor the ratings appearing on the various websites. The most important ones are Google and Facebook.

2. Who gives feedback?

Most often, feedback about you will be given by a very satisfied or very dissatisfied customer. Customers who are simply satisfied with the service you provide are usually less likely to give their opinion online. You can still come across fake reviews, usually issued by dishonest competitors. Unfortunately, these are reviews that are very difficult to remove on Google and for this reason, this is where they are most often posted.

3. Types of feedback

Regardless of where the reviews are issued, you may encounter 3 types of these negative reviews:

  • low rating without comment (1-3 stars)

It is best to respond to such feedback, even though you think you have nothing to comment on. It is your response that will tell potential customers reading feedback about your performance more than an anonymous 1-star without a word of comment.

You should express your regret at the customer’s dissatisfaction and ask them to contact you directly (preferably with your contact details) to explain the reason for their dissatisfaction. If the feedback is not anonymous, try to gather as much information as possible about the student and the collaboration based on the data collected on the LangLion Platform and from the lecturer teaching the course. After gathering an interview about the possible cause of dissatisfaction, it is best to simply contact the student directly and explain what happened and how you can rectify the negative impression. Prepare for this conversation and think first about scenarios on how the situation can be rectified.

  • low rating with negative comments

The opinion that every entrepreneur fears most. The first rule of thumb is not to get into a discussion with your customer in a public forum!

If the reason for your customer’s dissatisfaction is stated in a comment, it is best to address it professionally. Just be careful about revealing too much detail about the collaboration. Don’t write elaborates! If your response to all allegations requires extensive explanations, then do not write them in public. The longer your answer would be, the more likely it is, unfortunately, that your dissatisfied customer will become even more upset and you will start flip-flopping with arguments, which is not the image you want to build on the Internet. A short answer will be read in full by a potential student looking for feedback about you, rather than seeing it as an inflammatory, public-relations screed. The less professional your response, the more willing your potential student will be to believe the arguments and allegations of the person writing the negative comment.

As in the first case, invite direct contact and apologise for the situation. Remember, just never write a non-apology – i.e. „I’m sorry you took it that way” – even if the customer doesn’t think you were right. You apologise for your behaviour, not for how someone else perceived it.

  • false review

If you are 100 per cent sure that a particular review has been issued by a dishonest competitor and/or to undersell your overall rating, there is an easy way to turn it in your favour. In direct response to an unfavourable review, offer the disgruntled person compensation in any form. Of course, as in other cases, leave contact details. If the opinion has been artificially generated, no one will come forward for this compensation, and such a procedure will be very favourably received by your future customers.

4. How to respond to negative comments

The absolute basics of responding to negative feedback that will allow you to remain professional in any situation:

  • Respond as quickly as possible. The sooner you respond, the more certain you are that outsiders will read not only the unflattering opinion but also your position on the subject.
  • Never let your emotions get the upper hand. Remember that your response is the most credible review of your school.
  • Resolve situations amicably and try to get as much reliable information as possible to do so.
  • Apologise, even if it’s not your fault. You will lose nothing and may gain a lot.
  • If you manage to resolve the dispute to the customer’s satisfaction, ask them to remove the rating or correct it.
  • Try to actively solicit positive feedback from satisfied students.

It is not easy to face a negative opinion about yourself, especially one uttered in public and even more so if it targets something you have built with great dedication and commitment. But sometimes it’s worth putting your pride in your pocket, drawing conclusions and turning a potential failure into a positive marketing charge for your school.

As a consolation, let me add that, according to consumer research, a company with a rating of 4.9-4.8 inspires more trust than one with an unblemished 5 😉

If you enjoyed the article, be sure to let me know in the comments. What experiences have you had with this topic? How have you dealt with negative and public opinion about your school?