How to Handle Negative Customer Feedback

In today’s social media, customers have a voice.

For a businesses working the same way as 20 years ago, that can be scary. Many business owners recoil at the thought. Immediately they imagine a worst-case scenario: one or two customer-service horror stories that haunt current customers or frighten away new business.

Though one might imagine a social media world where nearly all customers are silently satisfied, we all know it’s the unhappy ones who express their dissatisfaction loudly and publicly for all to see.

Lemons to Lemonade

Here’s where we can turn the proverbial lemon into that delicious lemonade.

Think of it this way: criticism, whether constructive or not, gives us the opportunity to improve. Here is your chance to win over their hearts and minds.

  • Thank them for their feedback, and then demonstrate your willingness to improve the situation.
    Soliciting, then acting on honest feedback demonstrates your willingness to provide great service.
  • Negative feedback helps.
    It clues you into those ‘blind spots’ that are unfortunately inevitable in any business.

Remember this: *You* are not *Your business*

This feedback is not a personal attack. Separate your ego from your company and embrace the criticism or negative feedback. Listen, on a higher level, to customers.

This is important because it helps you know where you’re doing well, where you’re not, and how to improve. It’s really not any different than how you provide good customer service in person.

3 Points to minimize any damage

So, here is a 3 point plan to help you minimize damage from a negative review and avoid being the next social media horror story you read about online.

1. Don’t Argue. Your first response when reading a negative review will be to defend yourself. It’s perfectly natural, you are personally invested in your business. But trying to argue or ‘prove them wrong’ online is a losing proposition that will only backfire.

Instead, take a deep breath and start with empathy. Try to see their point of view and understand where that customer is coming from. Then respond with sincerity and a willingness to make things right.

2. Go Private. The longer a problem lingers in public, the more likely it will spin out of control. Start by responding publicly, but move it offline as quickly as possible.

A simple private email will start a new conversation, enabling you to discuss the details away from the public eye who might not be able to piece together the full story.

3. Identify & Correct the Real Problem. It’s all too tempting to hope the problem will just go away with a discount or freebie. But, only addressing the root cause will prevent this problem from happening again.

Try to understand where the problem originated. Document these in a simple log, and review them regularly with other people in your company as needed.

Know what the secret is?

Your customer wants you to be successful. They want to be happy with your product or service. If you can change your perception of their input, you’ll change their impression of your company.

Consider feedback a gift you can use to see how and where your business can improve; these frustrating situations can lift your business to run better and smoother for years to come.