We live in an online era when the world is interconnected as never before. People can say things on the Internet that they might never tell someone face to face. When it’s praise, it’s a blessing. But when it’s a negative comment, it’s a horse of a different color.
To Sal Ferro, president and CEO of Alure Home Improvements, online criticism is an opportunity to transform a complaint into a compliment—and forge a better relationship with a client than existed before.
“The online community is huge,” says Ferro in the accompanying video “From Complaints to Compliments: How Alure Home Improvements Addresses Negative Online Reviews.” “Those are our customers!”
Of course, he loves hearing from people when they rave about a job well done because that “makes me feel warm inside!” Who wouldn’t? But he also knows that, thanks to the Internet, “You’re going to hear things and see things that you don’t want to.”
Yet he won’t shy away from those kinds of remarks. In fact, rather than ignore them, he sees criticism as a blessing in disguise.
“We look at it as an opportunity to communicate and to get better,” he says.
Ten years ago, if a client wasn’t satisfied with a job or had a nit to pick, he’d rarely pick up the phone. But today giving feedback—for good or ill—is only a click away.
“Most companies run from it,” Sal says. “I look at it as another opportunity to create a raving fan!”
The most important thing is to address their criticism directly, he believes.
“You don’t run from it,” he says. “I learned a long time ago that we’re not perfect. I don’t think there’s a perfect company out there. But I do have one advantage over them: Our intentions are perfect!”
Achieving perfection remains the goal.
“When you’re sincere about your intentions,” Sal explains, “you do have an opportunity to do something about it.”
He tries to engage constructively with the customer online in order to demonstrate to the rest of the online community that the employees at Alure Home Improvements stand behind their work. His people are willing to own up to their mistakes and are determined to find a way to create a better result.
“You’ve got to turn the complaint around and use it in your favor,” Sal says. “You take care of that client and show them that you appreciate that they reached out to you and voiced what their concern was—and show that you’re a standup company willing to do something about it.”