Customer Service Advice: How to Effectively Handle Negative Feedback
Back in the day, if a customer was dissatisfied with your company they were thought to have told 10 people about their bad experience. In today’s world of viral content, that number goes up drastically and can even put a company out of business. The digital age has broadened word of mouth reviews and criticisms to a global audience. Since we have expertly handled millions of customer service transactions over the past 30 years, we want to assist you with solid customer service advice to help you handle any negative feedback you receive.
Our customer service advice on dealing with negative feedback:
STEP 1: Acknowledge
Negative feedback about your company will not go away if you just ignore it. The first step in taking control of the ugly situation you find yourself in is to acknowledge the negative review.
If you are quick and observant, you can nip any feedback as it occurs; ensuring it will never be placed on-line. Make sure your staff is trained in handling disgruntled customers. A properly trained employee will be able to talk the customer’s boiling anger down. Sometimes, a customer just wants their complaint heard and will not go on a social media mission to bad mouth your company if you provide a sincere and empathetic ear.
In some instances, your customer may head straight to the web without giving you the opportunity to rectify the situation. Again, do not ignore any bad reviews, complaints or comments about your product or service. If possible, have the head of your customer service department call that customer immediately to discuss the comment. If you are able to change the customer’s frown upside down during that conversation, he or she may voluntarily delete the negative comment on their own.
When you are not able to directly communicate with the customer, go ahead and reply to their negative comment or review. Apologize profusely and invite them to speak about their issue with the owner of the company.
Further Reading: Seer Interactive recently posted an excellent article giving detailed tips and example responses to negative comments.
STEP 2: Investigate
Take all negative feedback very seriously and perform an internal investigation as to what exactly caused your customer to become upset or dissatisfied. As the business owner, you have a responsibility to your customers to determine if there is a flaw in your product or service.
Here are some general directions to help you get to the bottom of the negative issue:
- • Has your company ever received similar negative feedback?
- • Was your customer given the opportunity to speak with a representative of your company to resolve the issue prior to writing the negative feedback online?
- • If yes, who was the employee the customer spoke with? If no, why wasn’t the customer given an opportunity to speak directly with your company prior to commenting on-line?
- • Does your business have a customer service hotline or contact number to call when dissatisfied?
- • Gather all information about the customer’s transaction and analyze the data to see if you can locate the problem area in black and white.
Finding answers to the above questions will lead you to possible courses of action within your company. Our customer service advice is to really put yourself in the shoes of your customer in order to fully understand their negative feedback.
STEP 3: Strategize
Now that you have the who, what, where, when and how of this particular situation you can start developing a plan to rectify it. After your investigation, start strategizing on how you can satisfy the customer.
- • Can you offer the customer a replacement product or offer them a free service to correct any negative issues they have?
- • Does your profit margin allow you to offer a discount or coupon to the disgruntled customer to give them an incentive to try your business again?
- • Have you discovered a hole or gap in communication that can be filled by simply creating a better customer service solutions department?
- • If you have received similar negative feedback, how can you change your internal policies and procedures to fix the issue that keeps arising?
This is your business; this is your baby. If your business plan has a hole in it, you have to find it and restore it quickly before the entire ship sinks. No one likes to admit that their baby has a flaw so being objective during this process will help you reach an effective solution.
STEP 4: Implement
Depending on the problem areas that surfaced when performing your internal investigation, this is the time to put your strategy into action. Whatever strategy you have designed, make sure your entire staff knows about the changes in a detailed memo. If you are changing a procedure, set aside time for your staff to be trained on the changes and new policies. If you are overwhelmed with other tasks, assign one of your employees to take lead and monitor the changes.
STEP 5: Follow-Up
The final and fifth step is to follow-up with your disgruntled customer. If you created a business solution based off of their feedback, let them know. We all make mistakes but it takes a secure and confident business to admit a mistake and rectify that mistake publicly.
When you share your process through a follow-up, anyone that sees the negative feedback will also see the extreme measures you went through in the name of great customer service. Your business will walk out of the situation with a positive reputation for listening to your customers.
Need Customer Service Agents?
Our customer service advice is intricate yet oh so simple. Listen to your customers by acknowledging their input, whether it is positive or negative. If there is something you can change to make your business stronger, do it.
If you would like to discuss hiring an award winning customer service team, give us a call at 1-800-785-6161. We will offer you a free initial consultation with an account specialist to discuss your company’s unique needs and our competitive rates and services.