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How to handle negative feedback?
By Rade Gusic
11/27/2020

In a high traffic, data driven society, where the strength of feedback resonates in such manner it can make or break a business, the way we approach to and deal with negative reviews and feedback becomes key.

Numerous studies show a correlation between reviews, purchase intent and revenue influxes. Reviews and ratings contributed by real customers help shape business reputation, it is no wonder why so many businesses show almost irrational fear of negative reviews.

Normally, impeccable service, customer satisfaction and great reviews should be the focus of any respectable business, however, every now and then we may be facing challenges. There could be oversights, misunderstandings. We drop the ball, make our customer dissatisfied, don’t meet their expectations. What should we do next?

Truth is that it is a part of life and you should worry if you never receive negative feedback, as it is one of the greatest sources of learning any customer centered company can get. Owning, responding to and resolving those issues stands for one of the simplest acts of respect and care organization can show towards its clients. Customers recognize and award that.

Regardless of our last point, we understand that no matter how big of a growing opportunity negative feedback is, it stings. That said, always make it a mandate to respond to negative feedback as well as to positive. That is what validates you in front of your customers, lifts you above competition even in front of people that aren’t your customers yet. They expect you to respond to their concerns. They gave you their time and money by choosing you. It is only fair that you reply when something is addressed to you. The fact that you did not hide behind a wall of silence will echo strongly in the audience, and strengthen your brand. Here are some recommendations on how to handle negative feedback.

Stay Calm

It takes a mature person to take criticism. Losing your calm reflects both on your value as a mature individual as well as on your business. Think of a situation where you witness an exchange between a service provider and a customer where you see both parties losing their calm. Would you do business with that party?

Distancing your emotional self, and taking time to settle your emotions before you respond shows a truly professional attitude towards the issue at hand adds value to your service. Remember this is not about you it’s about your customer!

Listen carefully and ask Questions

Listen to hear what is being said. Try putting yourself in your customer shoes. Everyone has a different perspective on the world, and everyone expects different things. The best way to show you actively followed what was said is to acknowledge their own perspective.

Ask questions to find out what their thoughts on how the issue could had been dealt with or resolved differently: or simply to understand what the problem is would be a good way to start. Do not make it your goal to prove your customer wrong.

Thank them for their feedback, apologize, and act

Regardless of the manner the feedback is delivered towards you, you should always thank your customers for it. It will show them you were prepared to listen and take action.

Apology for the way they felt, or for a mistake is not a sign of capitulation, and if you are a business that is too proud to say sorry, your customers will not appreciate it that much. It’s a sign of a business not being too proud to own up to their mistakes and the one caring for their customers.

Don’t make excuses. Assure them that you keep high standards and that you will follow up.

Assess the situation, follow up and make things right

The more information you have, the better your understanding of the problem is, therefore the solution to the problem becomes clearer. Gather as much information as you can so you can have a concise plan of action that will satisfy your customer and be in the best interest of your business. Be straightforward with your customer about the steps you will do or have done as a result of their feedback, to avoid them or other people having similar experiences in the future.

Ask them for a second chance to show them this was a one time off. Even when you cannot do anything to fix what happened, there is always a value in the fact that you heard them, owned up and offered a promise to make it right in the future

Offer to take the matter offline

Going back and forth in an exchange of comments enabling a rant in front of the audience isn’t really something you would want your business to be known for.

To avoid drama and try finding a solution that would satisfy your client it is always good to extend an invitation for a direct conversation between your customer and you.

Bonus: How to react when feedback is an obvious slander attempt?

In recent times, as the importance of reviews becomes more obvious in successful running of our business, there is an increasing number of negative reviews describing events that never occurred.

Their sole purpose is to slander your brand making you look bad in front of your current and potential customers in order to damage your business reputation.

No matter how frustrating that may be, following the same steps when you know there is absolutely no blame on you, as when the customer is truly upset because of something will show your level of professionality and sets your brand up in front of your supporters as the one that will take time to look into their issues.

Investigating, following up and offering to hear more about it in a polite and professional manner will likely reveal all the holes in the story and make it obvious in front of your clients

Final Thoughts

Importance of feedback for modern businesses is immense. Although important, and most of the times uncomfortable, negative feedback should not be dreaded. It should be taken as an opportunity to grow and show your customers you care for them. Stay calm, listen, apologize and act. And remember it’s not about you, its about them.

Need more information about feedback collection and data analysis, increasing your customer satisfaction and strengthening your brand?

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