4 Steps for Dealing with Negative Customer Feedback

By: Jeremiah Eastep

No matter how amazing your company is, how well you treat your customers or how great your products are, at some point you are going to experience negative feedback from a customer. It is an inevitable fact of life and business that no matter how awesome you are you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

It’s easy to bask in the kind words of your customers when things are going well and everyone is happy. But what do you do when something goes wrong and the feedback you receive isn’t all glowy and warm? As it turns out, this situation can actually be a good thing. But it’s important to know how to react and what to do when negative feedback crops up.

  • Step 1. Listen. Don’t go on defense. Listen objectively and without emotion. Remember that the bad feedback isn’t a personal attack. It is a result of some outcome that happened that made your client feel bad. Your job is to hear them out and form an understanding of how things look from their perspective. You might have to step out of your normal ‘box’ in order to do this. In fact, I think you MUST take a step back in order to objectively listen and process the complaint.
  • Step 2. Don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t assume you know what the problem is. Ask questions. Care about the answers.
  • Step 3. Apologize. Don’t blame the problem on some circumstance or person. Don’t argue. Just apologize for the problem (sincerely) and move on to step 4.
  • Step 4. Find a solution. Fix the problem quickly or find someone who can. Partner with the customer to help find a resolution. A choice between accepting a discount or a replacement item, for example, gives the customer some buy-in and allows them to pick the solution that best fits their needs. Soothe their dissatisfaction by resolving the issue as quickly as possible.

You have the power to turn what starts out as a negative interaction into a positive one by listening, understanding and then finding the best resolution. This simple customer care technique has the power to transform your customer’s unhappiness into a wow moment. Taking the time to show that you value your customers and want them to be happy can go a long way towards turning a bad situation into positive word-of-mouth advertising.

Most people won’t even take the time to tell you when something doesn’t go right. Research suggests that only 1 out of every 26 dissatisfied customers reach out to let the company know they are unhappy. The overwhelming majority will just quietly quit doing business with you. Doesn’t it make sense to spend some resources trying to salvage relationships with those who do speak up?

The exercise of working with clients to fix things that made them unhappy has another potential upside for your business. It can help you rout out internal issues that are causing problems. Which means you have the chance to actually make your business better by investigating customer complaints!

More info on an easy method to do just that in a future article coming soon.

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