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How to Handle Negative Online Reviews

Taking a day or two to cool off is the first step.

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THERE’S A LOT TO be said for taking the initiative to run a business; do the best job you can do, keep employees happy, keep clients happy, perform good work, be honest, all while trying to turn a profit. Inevitably, no matter how kind, humble, honest, and hard-working you are, someone is going to spoil the soup. Everyone has an opinion, everyone is an expert, and now the clients who don’t get their way or aren’t completely satisfied have a plethora of ways to tell the world and troll your business.

It stinks. For all the expletives I have muttered to myself when a less-than-shining online review happens, I will keep it relatively “clean” for this article by saying it stinks like a fresh turd on a hot sidewalk in the middle of a muggy summer. It ruins your day by upsetting your stomach and putting you in a downright foul mood.

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That feeling is not the one you should be harnessing when you write your reply. Like it or not, anyone under the age of 50 looks at reviews when seeking new businesses to work with. More particularly, they scan past the shining reviews to find the dirty laundry to see how badly things can go wrong when they do. Like a bad wreck on the highway — show me the carnage!

When it comes to reviews, I am not of the “roll over and take it apologetically” crew, nor am I of the “give ‘em hell” team. Let a negative review simmer for a day or two while you come down from the adrenaline of seeing red (“How dare they?!?!”) and don’t post a reply until you’ve had extra eyes on what you are saying. Ask an employee, friend, or colleague to look at your reply from the outside.

Remember that a review comes from that person’s point of view. There are many sides to a story. In extreme situations of riots, attacks, and politics, different media outlets will show different perspectives (often skewed). Bad reviews may seem skewed, but for the individual, it is their truth. They felt compelled to say something because the situation made them feel something.

Never post a canned response on a bad review. Readers see generic responses as an uninvolved robot behind the scenes just placating the reviewer. It feels like a cover-up.

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Never post a defensive rant! Factual key points are all you need to speak your piece. It’s better if you apologize and accept that you and your team aren’t perfect; we’re all human.

Finally, accept that some people are trolls and you cannot make them happy. It’s OK in those circumstances to call them out. I have publicly responded to an unreasonable review (backed up with facts), noting that the request for a free repair on an item we didn’t sell was irrational, and telling the world the reviewer is not welcome to return to my studio. That particular response has brought in several new clients who got a good laugh and subsequently left positive reviews when they met our team. They love that we are as real in-person as we are online.

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Commentary: The Business

How I Win Over Young People Who ‘Don’t Like Jewelry’

Learn to sell jewelry as the powerful talisman it always has been.

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WHY DO WE, HUMANS, have such a thing as jewelry?

I don’t think it was intended to mark status originally, back when we were walking around naked and hunting bears and living in caves. I think, on the contrary, it was because of the unforgettable experience of suddenly coming face to face with something amazing, a small thing that shimmered, so unlike anything else in your life, so special, that from that moment on, you knew your life was changed forever.

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You held onto that gem, or pearl, or gold crystal, and knew you had to hold onto it, no matter what. But how? You had no pockets, you wore leaves, or maybe nothing! So you had to figure out some way of drilling it, or wrapping it, and, inevitably, hung it about your neck. In every culture, the first jewelry is always a pendant, one thing protected. When you have something around your neck, you are going to fondle it, and soon you become very attached to it; maybe it will protect you and become your secret power. And that, which I call Transcendence, is why we have such a thing as jewelry!

So when your customer moans, “My daughter does not even like jewelry!” smile and resolve to bring back the magic. In a corner of my gallery, there is a partially enclosed space called the Gem Room with drawers of tourmalines, amethysts and colored sapphires and such, and I enjoy inviting people in to discuss custom work.

But when I see a young adult coming in, quick, before they whip out their electronics, I challenge them: “You look like someone who would like raw gems! Let me show you something unusual!” and I whisk them away to the Gem Room (while the parent goes about their business). I place in their hand a large raw lapis, full of pyrite stars, a piece of opal rough with a shimmering stripe in one corner, or a huge slice of watermelon tourmaline. A transformation! They are now alive.

Then you say “Wouldn’t this be right for Game Of Thrones (or a warrior in Wakanda)?” Then tell them where it came from, how hard it is to find and ask them, yes, to imagine themselves as a prehistoric human walking out of a cave, suddenly finding something amazing like this: wouldn’t they want to somehow keep it? But they have no pockets, they’d have to find a way to drill it, wrap it, maybe, and that is how jewelry comes into being. Then you walk away and let them play for a while.

You know that now they get it.

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The Adventures of Captain Marvel and Timewriter: A Comic Book and Watch Geek’s Dream

An industry journalist asks herself: ‘What if I were a superhero?’

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I LEFT THE MOVIE THEATER completely smitten. I’d just seen “Captain Marvel” with my family, and more importantly, with my kick-a** little girl who was about to turn 9. “Momma,” she said to me. “I feel like I want to be Captain Marvel when I grow up.” I smiled and responded with something along the lines of, “You are already doing so much of what Carol Danvers did when she was a little girl.” But what I didn’t share with her was that I felt the same. Naturally, I couldn’t tell a little kid that her adult mom dreamed of being a superhero. She thinks I’m a little loony as it is. Why would I solidify that idea by letting her in on my little secret? No, I wouldn’t share with her my hopes of someday having superpowers and fighting bad people, while looking flawless in a Spandex suit. I’d keep those thoughts for the times I wind up daydreaming when I’m supposed to be meeting a deadline.

That night I crawled into bed with visions of Nick Fury dancing in my head.

“What if I were a superhero?” I thought to myself.

“Well, technically, Barbara, you’d be a superheroine,” the feminist portion of my conscious replied.

“Oh, shut it,” writer me answered. “You’re missing the point, feminist me. I’m trying to figure out what kind of powers I’d have, and by what name I’d be called.”

I pondered a while as I started to drift and thought about my strong suits. I mean, I can write, I thought. And, I know about watches and time. Maybe my powers could combine those two things. Time. Or the ability to change it. Or even to change someone’s words. That’s when it came to me.

Timewriter

I’d be called Timewriter! That’s it! And I’d be Captain Marvel’s sidekick! Yes! Now if only I lived in the Marvel Universe …

(Insert funky music and squiggly vertical lines that look like I’m entering a dream sequence a-la a 1980s sitcom.)

(Also, potential spoilers below.)

Timewriter: “Okay, Captain Marvel, we need to figure out how to stop Thanos before the rest of us turn to dust.”

Captain Marvel: “I don’t … know … what … I’m sorry, who the heck are you, and why are you creeping up on me? Have you been stalking my Instagram?”

Timewriter: “I have, but that’s not the point. I’m Timewriter. I’m a new comic book character and I’m your new sidekick.”

Captain Marvel: (Smirking.) “I’m sorry, your name is Timewriter? Wow. That sounds so not beneficial to the cause. And I don’t need a sidekick. I have Goose.”

Timewriter: “I know. I saw pictures of the cat on your Instagram and on the website Adorablekittiesbelongingtosuperheros.com. Cute. But it can’t write.”

Captain Marvel: “So, you’re saying your superhero ability is … writing? Do I really have time for this? (Looks upward and around.) Which of you writers wrote this character into my universe? Is this because you’re not paid as much as I am?”

Timewriter: “It’s my dream, so leave your writers out of it. And, my power isn’t just writing, it’s words in general. I have the ability to change someone’s words as they’re saying them.”

Captain Marvel: “Prove it.”

Timewriter: “Okay, well, go ahead and say something.”

Captain Marvel: “And what would you like … for dinner? I’d love to make you dinner tonight to celebrate the fact that you’ll be my new sidekick.”

Timewriter: “See? And why thank you! I’ll have lamb, medium-rare, please. And a side of kale. Have to stay slim in this suit.”

Captain Marvel: “Whoa. That was weirdly impressive and also tremendously uncomfortable. OK, so what about the ‘time’ portion of your name? How does that work?”

Timewriter: “Well, I have the ability to time travel into the future, though unfortunately I can’t travel to the past.”

Captain Marvel: “That’s not exactly a new thing. I mean, Dr. Strange could do the same when he had the time stone. And I can alter time too, as long as I’m wearing my watch. Do you have your own watch?”

Timewriter: “Yeah, of course I do. I’m wearing this generic-looking round watch that was created using free clip art from a random webpage. That’s pretty much how all of me was created (for the sake of this article).”

Captain Marvel: “No, I said do you have your OWN watch? Meaning, a watch that was named after you because you’re pretty much the most powerful member of the Avengers and in the universe, in general. Like I do, see?” (Holds out wrist.)

Timewriter: “Whoa. That’s pretty cool. What kind of watch is that?”

Captain Marvel: “It’s a Citizen Eco-Drive, so it’s light-powered (like I am) as well as eco-friendly (I mean, I recycle, so, there’s that). It’s called the ‘Captain Marvel’ and it has my logo on it. This is the gold-tone one but it comes in three versions altogether, which are all really awesome, and I’m not just saying that because Citizen is the official timepiece partner of U.S.-based Disney parks, or even because Disney owns Marvel Entertainment. I’m saying it because I really love the watch. I mean … it’s a ‘me’ watch. Literally.”

Timewriter: “Yeah, I can see that. It’s definitely a ‘you’ watch. But you said you can alter time with it. How does that work?”

Captain Marvel: “Oh, well, I just pull out this little thingy here on the side …”

Timewriter: “It’s called a crown.”

Captain Marvel: “Yeah, I pull out this crown thing and I can change the pointy parts …”

Timewriter: “Those are called hands.”

Captain Marvel: “… and I can change the (does air quotes) ‘hands’ to either show an earlier time or a later time, see?”

Timewriter: “You do realize that doesn’t change actual time, right?”

Captain Marvel: “Well, no, not yet it doesn’t, but who knows what superpowers the writers are going to conjure up for me in “Avengers: Endgame.” I mean, that could be one of them.”

Timewriter: “OK, well, on that note, I think I hear my morning alarm going off, so maybe we’ll pick this story up in a future dream, m’kay?”

(Insert funky music and squiggly vertical lines that look like I’m exiting a dream sequence a-la a 1980s sitcom.)

(Hits snooze. Sits up in bed.)

Me: “Wow. I have GOT to stopping eating Thai food so close to bedtime. The spices are seriously messing with my head.”

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Columns

The Digital Doc: How Often to Post on Instagram, and Other Digital Marketing Questions for March

Smart Age Solutions answers reader questions about websites, social media and more.

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IN THE DIGITAL DOC, Smart Age Solutions answers jewelers’ questions about how to use digital marketing on the local level to bring in more customers and make more sales.

Do you have a question for the Digital Doc? Send it to digitaldoc@smartagesolutions.com.

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Q: I understand that a lot of online usage comes through people’s phones. How do I take advantage of this?

A: There are many components to a mobile marketing strategy. Let’s just focus on the basics. First, make sure you have a mobile-friendly website. Test it regularly and have friends outside the business take a tour as if they are customers so they can give you feedback on how user- friendly it is. The next step is to make sure you have a presence in the apps that consumers use the most — namely Google, Facebook and Instagram. You should be buying ads/sponsored posts in these channels. For some retailers in more competitive markets, you may have to spend more than others, knowing that more than 80 percent of shoppers have done some sort of research from a mobile phone.

Q: How often should I be posting on Instagram and do I need to spend money there?

A: There’s no “one post schedule fits all” here. However, the general rule is to have at least three to four posts per week. A lot of this can depend on the season and the products you carry. If you carry many fashion or timepiece brands, your posts are likely more relevant throughout the year and can be much more lifestyle-focused, so being consistent here is important. If you have the resources to create the posts often, definitely invest in boosting posts regularly. This will ensure your posts are getting seen and promote interaction from users.

Q: Should I keep products on my website that I don’t have in my store?

A: There are many opinions on this and we can talk forever about advantages/disadvantages to both. But to keep it simple, follow this rule — display all products that you have access to, whether they are in the store showroom or your vendor can get them to you within 48 hrs. Remember, as our industry has few transactions done online (less than 6 percent), your website should be there to drive leads, phones calls and foot traffic.

Pro tip: Your phone number should always be visible on your website no matter where the customer is. Make sure your website provider is using the ‘anchor’ feature so your customers never have to go on a scavenger hunt for a way to get in touch.

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