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Customer feedback tips

How Negative Customer Feedback is Good for Your Business (No, Really!)

By Stephanie Levy | HappyOrNot

Criticism or negative feedback isn’t the nicest thing to deal with in a business, right? Of course not, but the good thing about it, is that it can be turned into opportunities to improve your business processes and make your customers happier! Let’s discuss.

Understandably so, no business really wants to receive negative feedback from their customers – it signals that you’re not doing your best – and would sometimes prefer to outright avoid it. But how can you fix a problem if you don’t know what’s wrong?

The reality is that negative feedback is one of the greatest sources of learning and opportunity for development, and shouldn’t be feared. Like in our personal lives, uncovering the cause of a problem is the key to finding a solution, and, for businesses, understanding how your customers perceive your service performance throughout the many touchpoints of their journey is critical for success.

Consider a time when you, as a consumer, had a bad customer experience. I’m sure you remember the situation well – how it made you feel, both personally and towards the brand. Did you express your displeasure to the store staff? Vent in social media? Tell your friends or family?

These public displays of dissatisfaction are a distressing situation for businesses due to the potential for spread. Customers are 3x more likely to tell their friends about a negative experience, and the hashtag #badcustomerservice has over 500 tweets and a reach of nearly a quarter million people every day. The good news, however, is that customers whose issues are resolved tell 4-6 about their positive experience – so there is always an opportunity to turn a negative experience into a positive one. To get tips on how to win back unhappy customers, read our earlier blog post here:

HappyOrNot blog post: 3 Steps to win back unhappy customers

The first course of action (as a precaution for capturing negative feedback before a customer walks out the door) is to continuously collect their feedback at the point-of-experience. Giving customers an outlet to immediately express their dissatisfaction that’s easy and anonymous means you’re more likely to get their real emotion and they’re less likely to vent frustrations elsewhere.

[clickToTweet tweet=”See the negative feedback as a signal that there is room for improvement.” quote=”The second action is to see the negative feedback as a signal that there is room for improvement.”]

The second action is to see the negative feedback as a signal that there is room for improvement. Below, we’ve listed some of the insights that can be gained from negative feedback and how to use it to your advantage for the better of your business:

– It tells you where to focus efforts

Look for trends and patterns in the feedback, for example, specific times of the day or month, or a department or area showing repeatedly low customer satisfaction scores. This helps you uncover when and where your customers are not happy, learn what aspects of your service performance can be improved upon, and focus efforts in the right places to make the right changes.

– It helps you enhance your customer service experience

Many times, unfortunately, negative customer experiences are related to poor customer service. Whether it’s due to lack of training, knowledge, or simply a personable attitude, staff are the direct contact with your customers and represent your brand, and can have the biggest impact on the experience. If negative feedback points to the customer service experience, investigate when and where it happens, talk with staff, and make improvements together.

– It can support the development of your products

Negative feedback on your product (or service) quality, pricing, selection, availability, etc. offers invaluable insights for developing your products. Of course, no business wants to have products on the market that don’t meet customer’s expectations, but accepting the criticisms as a source for improving your products for the benefit of your customers is a benefit for your business. Capture and categorize the feedback, and share with your R&D team to initiate product development discussions and action plans.

– It can guide your marketing communication

Does there seem to be a disconnect between what you say you offer and what your customers believe you offer? If customers are continuously dissatisfied with a specific product, service, or feature, it could be due to misaligned communication. What you promise your customers should be a mirror of what you offer, and negative feedback that appears to be displaced just might be caused by mixed messaging. Revisit your marketing communication – on your website, materials, social media, etc. – to ensure your messaging is consistent and precise.

[clickToTweet tweet=”What businesses promise their customers should be a mirror of what they actually offer.” quote=”What businesses promise their customers should be a mirror of what they actually offer.”]

While it may not be possible to avoid negative feedback, using it to learn how your business can do better for your customers is the perfect way to not only improve their experience, loyalty, and trust – which will have positive impacts on your bottom line – but also reduce both repeated and new negative feedback in the future.


  • Customer feedback tips