Frustrating Feedback: How to Handle Negative Criticism

feedbackHave you ever provided negative feedback on a product or service you purchased to find out the seller didn’t seem to care about your satisfaction or, even worse, felt offended by your feedback?

Or, perhaps you have you been on the receiving end of such feedback and remained silent because you weren’t sure how to handle it? Maybe you thought you would lose the customer anyway, so why bother?

Everyone wants happy customers, but few want to deal with the occasional complaint or negative feedback. In order to build a thriving business, however, you must know how to delicately handle situations that could have negative repercussions for your brand.

SabineQuote5The good news is that when complaints are handled properly, about 80% of customers are willing to give you another chance at winning their loyalty. The bad news is that customers are 5 times more likely to switch businesses due to poor service than price or even quality.

The bottom line: we as consumers care greatly about being treated well and see no reason to stick around if we experience the opposite.

Allow me to share some of my own recent customer service experiences:

Scenario #1: I provided feedback on a service product that appeared to be carelessly thrown together information I could have easily found myself—not to mention the typos or that the price far overreached the value that was delivered.
Outcome: I received no response to my inquiry and never heard from the vendor again.

Scenario #2: I tried a product sample I was offered, and after several follow-up emails prompting me to purchase and my responding “not at this time,” the brand representative asked me to return the sample.
Outcome: I was never contacted again and vowed to never purchase anything from this company.

Scenario #3: I provided feedback on a product that turned out not to be a great match, hoping that additional recommendations would be provided to me.
Outcome: I received absolutely no response from the brand representative, but I was added to their mailing list without my permission.

So, how exactly should you handle a disgruntled customer? Here are my top three rules:

Rule #1 – Silence is NOT golden when it comes to handling negative customer feedback.
No matter how bad the feedback, resist the urge to ignore it, hoping it will go away. I promise you it won’t. Research has proven that every unhappy customer will tell about 8-10 others about the poor treatment they received.

Rule #2 – Validate your customer’s right to feel dissatisfied.
Never, ever argue with your customer about who is right and who is wrong. Listen, acknowledge your customer’s feelings, and express your understanding of their concerns. No matter how good your explanation may be for what happened, your customer’s focus will be on getting their problem fixed.

Rule #3 – Always, always make amends.
Under no circumstances let your customer walk away without your apology and attempt to make amends. Whether a product or service needs to be replaced, substituted, or corrected, make sure it’s taken care of quickly. Better yet, offer your disgruntled customers an extra bonus, and let them know you would love it if they gave your business another chance to serve them.

If you would like additional help in defining a customer service process that leaves you with happy customers and a high retention rate, I invite you to schedule a complimentary “Next Level” Business Strategy Session. Click below to access my online calendar.

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