“Complains too much about online reviews – TWO STARS.”

§ March 4th, 2019 § Filed under retailing § 5 Comments

So late last year, I receiving the following online review for my business in one of the usual places one finds reviews for one’s business:

“A quite [sic] little place in Oxnard. Pretty good food. Good service.”

Okay, you may have noticed a couple of problems there, I mean, aside from the typo. First, my comic book store isn’t in Oxnard. It’s in Camarillo, which is next to Oxnard, but it is not Oxnard. Also, while one could perhaps allow for the most generous interpretation of “good food” to mean “oh, yeah, there’s good food at the restaurant next door” or “that meatball sub Mike was eating looked pretty delish,” I’m going to presume that, in conjuction with the follow-up comment, they meant that I served good food. The “good service” note probably wasn’t specifically about me either, despite being 100% accurate.

At any rate, it’s pretty clear someone made a mistake and placed a review for some eatery or ‘nother on my listing. Also, it was a three star rating, a middling review (though it sounds like they liked whereever it was they were actually reviewing just fine), which dinged my average a smidgen. I replied to the review noted that it seemed to have been left in error, but never got a response. It took complaining to the platform to get it removed…which itself took a couple of months, but with the amount of traffic they’re dealing with, I understand.

I don’t generally worry about reviews of my store. I was more bemused by the situation I described than anything else. But I realize that you just can’t please everyone, no matter how hard you try. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve had some very kind folks leaving positive reviews of my shop in various places, which is gratifying and showing that perhaps I’ve somehow learned to do a comic shop right after three decades in this industry.

But I’ve had some middling reviews, too, and part of my job as Business Owner is to address those reviews, especially when they don’t leave any comments beyond a star rating. I tend to read “3 stars” as “good, but not great,” which is, you know, reasonable, but I would like to know what it is specifically I did to not earn higher, if a comment wasn’t left. I always try to be nice and polite when responding, asking what I could do to improve their experience, etc. Have yet to hear back from anyone, but, well, what can you do. I mean, other than try harder, that is!

The reason I’ve been thinking about this lately is that someone dropped a two-star review on me, and again, with no explanation as to why. Just “here you go, two stars,” which…I don’t know, man. I don’t recall anyone being particularly unhappy with me of late. I have had a recent influx of people looking for role playing game stuff, and perhaps this was from one of these folks (“Didn’t carry product line that was never promised or even implied by business that it carried – TWO STARS”). I left a response, again asking “what specifically did you dislike? How can I improve,” but I don’t think I’ll get a reply to this one, either.

At least this person appears to have actually been to the store…I looked at the reviewer’s profile just to make sure it was a real person who’s visited the shop and/or dealt with me, and not one of those folks that firehose reviews all over the place to improve their “Top Reviewer” ranking or whatever — had one of those a while back, whose review has since been deleted — and judging by the pattern of places rated this person at least appears to have been in the area. But I have no idea why the reviewer didn’t like my shop, or me…how can anyone not like me, I’m adorable. Wasn’t shy about leaving very specific comments about other reviewed businesses, but all I’m left with is my assumption that the person objected to the fact that I carried comics.

Reminder: I said I “generally” don’t worry about reviews. But this one stuck in my craw a little, as perhaps you were able to tell. It just leaves me wondering. What did I do? Did I do anything wrong? Was there dissatisfaction with my available stock or back issue pricing? Or was it something entirely out of my hands? I did have to shut the store down for one day without warning due to some post-surgery complications…maybe the reviewer came by that day and dinged me for that. I don’t know.

Anyway, hopefully I’ll get a response and find out. And please do not contact that person on my behalf, should you happen to see the review…I do not want to be one of those guys that “sics” readers/followers on others. Everyone’s entitled to their informed opinion! Like I said, you can’t please everyone, and that’s okay. So long as I’m doing my best.

I know that’s a lot to type about something that I’m claiming to be ain’t no thang, and to be really honest, it doesn’t bother me. I presume one of the reasons you (yes, YOU) read this site is for some insight on the day-to-day stuff that goes into running a comic store. One of the things i have to do is, well, respond to customer concerns, and maintain some kind of control and/or interaction with my online presence. That includes social media, online sales, and, of course, reviews of my store. It’s just a thing I gotta do, and hopefully you gleaned some useful info from all this.

If nothing else, when you have to leave a middling to negative review for anything, at least leave a brief comment saying why, if you can, just so the reviewee has something to work with. Positive reviews are self-explanatory, I think, and probably don’t need commentary, though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy reading “Mike is great! I wish he’d adopt me!” or whatever. But if someone isn’t happy with their experience with me or my shop, I’d like to know a reason.

On a related note, recently comics writer Gail Simone asked on her Twitters for comments from her lady followers about guys who were welcoming and open to them regarding their “nerd interests.” I was pleasantly surprised to be mentioned twice, from longtime customer Jo:

“I was welcomed by @mikesterling who let me, as a child, enjoy comics and feel safe in my LCS. And as I grew and my tastes changed, he always knew to keep issues of Titans and Nightwing waiting for me. We would laugh and talk and discuss. Please go and support him if you can!”

…and from other longtimer, Weshoyot:

“That would be @mikesterling when he worked at a local comic shop. He was ways inviting, helpful and encouraged me to put my own Kinko’s copied comic in there. He now runs his own shop. Stand up guy. One of the good ones.”

I’ve known both these great ladies since they were but wee tykes, and it makes me very…well, emotional to know that they grew up with these kindhearted memories of me. God knows I’m not perfect, and I’ve made dumb mistakes, and probably more than earned the occasional two-star review at times…but reading these nice words from Jo and Weshoyot make me think that somehow during all these years, I managed to do okay.

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