How to Handle Negative Feedback? Here is a Simple 5 step Approach


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This story is a version of a post published here.

Even the most loutish negative feedback from a customer should be utilised as an opportunity to improve your customer service; pinpoint the problem area and improve the product or service that you are offering. Moreover such feedback may even be valuable in making amendments to your business model. Negative feedback should be looked at as free suggestions to rectify faults in the products or services offered. If handled in the correct manner, it could drastically alter a customer’s opinion on your company and boost your business. Here is a simple 5 step approach to handle negative feedback:

  1. Acknowledge, Assess and Always Apologise

  2. It is a natural human tendency to immediately defend oneself when they are criticised. However, as a customer service representative for your company, you must first read or listen to the comment, no matter how ridiculous it may sound. A hasty reaction may cost you not only one customer but a whole lot of them. The first step is acknowledging that there is a problem and then thanking the customer for bringing it to your notice. Second, gauge the feedback objectively and ask questions. Do you agree on the feedback? Is there any truth in the feedback and can you look at it from a different perspective? Is there something specific you should look in to? Even though you believe that the feedback may be erroneous, start with an apology. Carefully evaluate what the issue is and provide an immediate resolution if possible; if not request the customer to wait and respond as soon as possible.

  3. Promptness is Key

  4. React immediately. Whether it is a social media comment or a feedback call. Don’t force the customer to repeat his/her complaint/feedback. It is understandable that you would not have an immediate solution for a customer’s complaint, but by ensuring that you are getting on it immediately will placate even the angriest customer. According to a social media research by Convince and Convert 42% of consumers complaining on social media expect a 60 minute response time.Therefore, a prompt response is critical in case you receive a negative feedback. Moreover, in your initial response, provide the customer with a realistic date for when they will receive assistance with their problem. This will help your company manage expectations and decrease further negative feedback.
    If you are anything like me, you don’t appreciate the auto-acknowledgement email sent within a minute of registering a feedback with your service provider. It is impersonal, it says “This is an auto-generated email…”, and it doesn’t help you anyways! No doubt such auto-emails are a boon for businesses, but there is a huge gap in communication over there. Make your auto-responders more personal, and, along with providing an estimated turn around time, share the name of the service rep who will call to help the customer resolve the issue. This establishes a personal connect and the customer is already expecting your service rep’s call when he calls.

  5. Reach Out Offline

  6. All conversation on social media or review sites are in the public eye, and often this instigates other people to join in. Therefore the first step in reaching out would be to solicit a direct contact with the individual and assure a time of resolution. This not only calms the customer, but also gratifies them as they receive personalised attention.
    If the complaint or feedback was lodged over call, arrange a meeting with the customer as per their convenience. Otherwise, email them immediately assuring that they will get a call back at the earliest possible time. Furthermore, provide the customer with contact details to check up on their feedback status. This personal connection allows you to understand the heart of the matter and offer some elucidation before the situation gets worse.

  7. Kill the Bias

  8. There are always customers who are difficult to please and are eager to complain. Handling such customers is tenacious but maintaining composure is of utmost importance when communicating with them. Instead of instituting a bias towards such customers, provide them with unmatched customer support. If you do end up satisfying or impressing them, not only would you win their heart but also you would earn a promoter. As good as they are at publishing negative feedback about your company, a little bit of persistence in delivering a great customer experience to them will get you endless praise about your company.

  9. Follow Up

  10. Once you have responded to feedback over social media or call, don’t forget to follow up. You have not closed the loop unless you ensure that the customer’s issue has been resolved satisfactorily. Reach out to your customer personally when following up. A personalised approach lets the customer know that you value their needs and place their opinions first.
    A follow up call, email or tweet is the best way to reach out to your customer and find out if they are content. You could additionally provide the customer with a gift voucher or discount for your product or service so that they go the extra mile to promote your company.

In conclusion, we know that you aspire to offer every customer an unsurpassed experience and give them the best perspective of your company. By following these 5 simple steps, you’d not only recover your unhappy customers, but efficiently responding to negative feedback will also impress potential customers and help you earn new promoters. Essentially the most rewarding aspect for your company would be seeing a negative feedback renewed into positive feedback. What suggestions do you have for responding to customer feedback? Let us know in the comments!

Kushal Dev
I am the founder and director of Customer Guru.I am a serial entrepreneur with experience in deploying customer-centric growth strategies for several organizations around the world. I am an expert management consultant who has a knack for numbers. Having worked in industries ranging from real estate and retail to technology and resource management, I am poised to understand the clients' business needs.


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