There is a universal truth no one can deny: no one likes getting negative customer feedback. Sure, it feels great when people sing you praises and shower you with compliments, but there’ll always be at least one person who will point out your mistakes or shortcomings. Some may have good intentions while others may not, and it’s your job as a manager (and fellow human being, mind you) to figure out which is which and turn them to your advantage either way – to better yourself or your company through the criticisms of others.
Negative feedback and criticism is to be expected regardless of how good you are at what you do. The sad fact is that you simply can’t please everybody due to differing tastes, and there are just circumstances beyond your control. The good news is that you can always make up for it, especially when it comes to products and services.
Receiving negative feedback is never easy, but here are 4 ways you can deal with them:
Respond But Don’t React
Upon getting a negative reaction on your website or survey, the first thing to do is to celebrate — that’s right, someone cared enough about your product or service to complain about it. You know what they say, “we hurt the ones we love” and this is no different. Many customers complain because they want you to resolve an issue caused by circumstance, miscommunication or, let’s face it, your shortcomings in their expectations. Take consolation in the fact that they took the time out to try and get you to fix something so you can fix it for other customers too.
Now, the first thing to do would be to respond to the criticism, but do your best not to retaliate. Acknowledge their feedback as soon as possible — nothing grates more on a consumer’s nerves than slow customer service, after all. Pick your words carefully and convey your concern clearly; if possible, try not to sound too corporate. Personalize the message with the usage of timely greetings, names, and keywords that show that you’ve fully read their message to you.
Do not leave a negative reaction to simmer for everyone to see. Not only is it unprofessional, it’s highly possible for your one negative retort to catch fire — and that means bad publicity. Make sure to trim it at the roots and avoid any potential for further conflicts. Also, remember that all customer feedback is important!
Take The Negativity
Much as it’s easier to think that it’s the case, people are not actively out to get you. Negative feedback always has its reasons; they don’t spawn right out of thin air just to make your day worse. That said, it’s considered good practice to take every negative comment seriously, but never personally. Most bad comments out there will, consciously or not, bring to light a certain problematic area in your product or service which you, in turn, can improve on. Learn to take those scathing 1,000 word comments with stride and see the good in the bad.
For example: say a customer complains about the bread being too bland, and that alone. Then that most likely means everything else was good!
Essential to this strategy is the possession of a natural yet confident voice when conversing — observe the use of proper spelling, grammar, and capitalization (where applicable). Basically, sound like an authority on what you’re talking about while also remaining polite, amicable, and human. Empathize with your customer and let them know that you’re genuinely sorry for whatever inconvenience you may have caused them; tell them that you’ve learned from your mistake and will do your best to rectify it in the future.
Remember, you’re working with customer feedback and that’s a two way road. You can’t expect the customer to give you their thoughts if they believe they’re not talking to a living, human being who can process their concerns. Of course dealing with any sort of negativity is never easy, yet it’s a essential part of everyday life. So, keep these tips in mind to mitigate some of the usual problems you’ll face when it comes to managing bad comments.