As a business owner, you’re always trying to give your customers the best experience. You can’t be perfect at pleasing everyone all the time, though – each customer comes to you with different expectations, and it’s impossible to predict what all those expectations might be. What you can do, however, is learn how to handle feedback in a graceful way, so that you can turn any negative customer experiences into a positive. Here are five ways to do just that:
1. Don’t take it personally. Often the knee-jerk reaction when receiving negative feedback is to get defensive, come up with a good argument as to why the feedback is wrong, or feel like a failure because someone didn’t think your product or service was as great as you know it is. Recognize that this is not a comment on you personally; it’s simply someone reporting their frustration about an experience they had with your business. In order to respond appropriately, it’s important that you compartmentalize your emotional response, and instead deal with the issue from a practical, problem-solving mentality.
2. Always respond promptly and appropriately. Potential customers will be looking at your reviews, especially the negative ones. In that context, not responding can hurt you as much as responding inappropriately, because a lack of response looks like you ignore your customers. Monitoring tools like Talkwalker Alerts or Google Alerts can help you stay on top of reviews and comments, and as soon as you notice a review, respond right away and acknowledge the issue in an emotionally neutral tone. Customers don’t expect a business to be perfect, but they do expect you to be respectful and solution-focused.
3. Remember that social media is watching. When someone starts venting their frustrations about your company on Twitter or Facebook, it can be very tempting to resort to the clever comeback, or start volleying insults back and forth with them. Surely you’ve seen what happens next, though – the business starts going viral for all the wrong reasons. The most respected companies are those who recognize the venting for what it is, offer to speak to the customer directly about their concerns, and then deal with those concerns in a timely fashion.
4. Treat your customers how you like to be treated. This seems so obvious, because it’s easy to do when things are going well, but how you respond matters even more when you’re dealing with a complaint. Even if you know your customer is wrong or the problem is their own fault, there’s nothing to be gained by shutting them down and leaving them frustrated. You’ve probably been on the receiving end of this before as a customer – it makes such a difference when a company listens to you, takes you seriously, and does their best to solve the issue, even if the problem was something you caused yourself. Give your customers that same respect and consideration.
5. Go the extra mile. It may seem counterintuitive (or even counterproductive) to give gifts to someone who is lashing out at you, but remember that it’s not about rewarding angry behavior, it’s about turning their negative experience into a positive one. Again, put yourself in the customer’s shoes – if a company does their best to fix a problem, that’s great, but if they go out of their way to then give you a little something extra to acknowledge your negative experience and make things better again, now they’ve built up respect and trust, which in turn leads to customer loyalty. A loyal customer will share their recommendations with friends and social networks, so it’s worth it to do that little bit extra when the situation calls for it!
If you get a negative review, address it as quickly as you can in a respectful and neutral tone, and watch it turn into a positive for your business!