Receiving negative feedback from angry customers may seem like a customer service nightmare. In today’s connected world, one unhappy patron is all it takes to permanently damage your business’s reputation. However, negative customer feedback is actually the most valuable kind you can receive. Without critics, how would you know what improvements you should be making to provide even more value to your customers? It isn’t easy to interact with someone who’s angry or aggressive, but there are a number of things you can do—and not do—when your business comes under fire. Here are 4 mistakes to avoid when handling negative feedback.
Mistake #1: Don’t Wait to Make Improvements Until People Complain
If you think you’ve got your customer service strategy perfected, think again. No matter how great your program might be, you can always find things to improve. Assess your efforts on a regular basis, and you’ll start to see the number of complaints drop as you address issues upstream.
Mistake #2: Don’t Delete Negative Comments or Reviews
No matter how quickly you stumble across a negative comment or review, there’s bound to be at least one person who’s already seen it, and they’ll notice if it suddenly disappears from cyberspace. Consumers perceive a deleted comment to be some kind of cover-up, and the user who made the original post is likely to become even more vocal about his or her complaints if they feel like you’re trying to brush something under the rug.
Instead of pretending the negative feedback never happened, address is head on. Even if you don’t feel that the customer’s claim is legitimate, you can at least let the person know you’ve heard them, appreciate their feedback, and will take steps to make things right. At some point, you may transition the conversation offline for a quicker resolution, but the initial response should happen in whatever forum the user provided feedback.
Mistake #3: Don’t Ignore Negative Feedback
Ignoring negative feedback isn’t quite as bad as hiding it, but it is a lost opportunity for your business. If you respond quickly and sensitively to someone’s concerns, they’re more likely to change their mind about your business, or at the very least stop sharing negative feedback with others. If you just ignore them, they’ll add being ignored to their list of complaints and will likely continue to voice them to their peers.
Mistake #4: Don’t Retaliate
When a customer unfairly attacks your products, services, or staff, it’s tempting to lash out in return. Resist the urge to sink to that person’s level. If you have nothing helpful to say in response to a comment, then say nothing. If you can soothe the person’s hurt feelings or ask for additional clarification while remaining neutral, that’s even better. Just remember: How you respond to an angry customer’s tirade says a lot more about your business than what the customer is saying about you.
The Bottom Line
Negative feedback is bound to happen periodically. When it comes your way, consider it as an opportunity for growth and learning instead of an unpleasant downside of doing business. Be proactive in making improvements you know are needed, and engage with critical customers in a way that will benefit them and your business. If you do, you’ll come to embrace negative feedback instead of dreading it.