How to handle negative feedback from customers

If you have been in business for any period of time there has likely been some unhappy customers.

No matter how well you run the business, negative feedback will always occur but what matters is not that you get negative feedback at all, but how you react to it.

Taking into consideration that prospective customers will use feedback as a way to decide whether they want to do business with you or not, it is wise to make sure you know how to handle any commentary when it comes to be.

Here are a few ways of handling negative feedback from customers;

Assess the problem

Any form of feedback is generated from something that relates to the goods or services involved with your business. Your employees are likely to provide the best customer service to those they deal with.

To assess whether the customer is right or wrong about a complaint, you need to understand the trigger. It is important to recognize why a customer is providing negative feedback. You need to find out what has upset that person and what they believe is wrong.

For instance, negative feedback might state that the products sold are sub-standard, or that the company doesn’t do business in a professional manner.

React immediately

Even when you don’t have an immediate solution to the problem, at least give an apology and tell them of your desire to make amends. Giving a swift response, preferably within 24 hours, will ensure that the person giving the feedback doesn’t go on a rampage to spread the negative feedback elsewhere. If a client feels ignored, they will be more likely to become increasingly vocal about it.

Respond sincerely, respectfully, and thankfully

Whatever you decide to say, make sure that your response is respectful and sincere. You want your customers to know that you really do care about them. You should also thank them for the feedback, even if it is awful.

Put yourself in their shoes, and remember: The customer is always right. It might be difficult, but if you respect your customers and deal with them in a polite and thankful manner, you will ultimately benefit.

Don’t react without thinking about it first

When a negative comment from a client arises, it is easy to get hot under the collar and then want to retaliate or become defensive. If you’re riled up or angry you won’t be able to give a clear, helpful response. So, calmly think for a few minutes before responding.

Correct customers if their feedback is wrong

You need to assess the situation objectively. However hard it is to swallow, negative feedback is often totally justified, whether the business is a new one or whether it has been established and operating successfully for many years.

Friends and colleagues can all help you decide whether the feedback is essentially right or wrong.

Understand the concerns

Try to put yourself in the client’s shoes since we are all customers in some way or another so this shouldn’t be too difficult. Delve into the exact reasons for their negative feedback. Even if they do not give you specific or supporting reasons for their commentary, you need to look into what triggered their negative feelings. If you know the origin of the complaint, you will be better equipped to handle it efficiently.

See it as an opportunity to improve

Sometimes you may not know there is a problem in your business until someone complains. Negative feedback is never pleasant, but this is better than losing customers without knowing the reason why. If you see many complaints, you know there is a need that is not being fulfilled.

Make it public

If you have seen a lot of complaints that are similar and have fixed it appropriately then make it known that you have done so. If it is a fix that is likely to make a lot of people happy, send out an email to say that you have listened to your customers and here is how you have improved.

This will show your customers that you appreciate their feedback and react quickly to any complaints. At the same time remind people how they can leave feedback, should they feel the need to.

Be genuine

One of the ways in which companies seem insincere is commenting: “We’re sorry that you feel that way”. This makes it seem like the company is pushing the blame on the customer and making them feel like their expectations were too high instead of taking responsibility for the problem. Give an honest apology and then a promise to make a concerted effort to solve the issue.

Take action

There are many companies who make promises in public or out loud that they have no intention of following through on. If you do solve an issue, let the customer know and then ask whether they are satisfied with the result. The complaint has not been finalised until the customer is happy.

Follow-up to show you care

Once you have made contact with a dissatisfied customer, don’t leave it there. You need to follow-up to show that you actually do care.

Contact the person or business to ensure that they are happy with the steps that you have taken to rectify what they thought was wrong. This will show your customers that you are committed to delivering the very best services or products.

The bottom line is that those businesses that respond to negative feedback promptly and genuinely will benefit. Those who ignore negative feedback are likely to suffer.

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