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Customer feedback tips

How to respond to negative feedback

Businesses will receive criticism and feedback, whether they encourage it or not. Even more frustrating is that people are more likely to leave a review only when they’ve had either an exceptional experience or a negative one – if they remember it at all. 

When you receive negative feedback from customers, it can put a significant damper on your business. Dropping a star rating, being blasted on social media, or having bad reviews can directly impact revenue, and unfortunately, it may not always be fair.  

However, how you respond to negative feedback is just another aspect of excellent customer service, and answering correctly can be done by following a few easy tips and tricks. 

The importance of customer feedback 

Getting negative feedback is normal and natural, and receiving a few negative comments is acceptable for any business. In fact, a few negative reviews are preferable. Customers aren’t always more trusting of companies with only 5-star or primarily positive feedback, which suggests you may have paid for fake reviews. 

Though having little negative feedback is fine, you don’t want to leave them unattended, either. Managing your brand reputation is key, especially as 97% of people will go through online reviews before buying from or visiting a local business. 

93% of buyers also state that online reviews impact their purchasing decisions, and studies have found that upgrading from a 3-star rating to a 4-star rating or similar could increase your revenue by 5-9%. 

The right way to respond to negative customer feedback 

How to respond to negative feedback and customer reviews online is extremely important. Some businesses try to shift blame, making unhappy customers feel defensive. You must acknowledge the problem, apologize, and find an acceptable resolution. 

The best way to diffuse an angry customer review 

The best way any business owner can diffuse an unhappy customer review is to acknowledge their bad experience and apologize. Customers can understand if something went wrong that wasn’t supposed to, but if they’re made to feel bad for their own bad experience, that’s another story. 

You may also have people who attempt to twist the story in their favor. A person might leave negative feedback claiming your customer service was terrible when, in reality, the customer was abusive. When explaining the reason for their experience, try not to place blame but instead reiterate your no-abuse policy. 

How you respond needs to be neutral, compassionate, and professional since how you deal with negative feedback will be noted by other customers reading the reviews. 

How to respond to negative feedback on social media 

Negative reviews on social media can be another beast entirely. For example, Twitter is one of many online review sites where customers will leave negative feedback. The issue is that people aren’t just giving a negative review there but also discouraging their followers from using your business. 

Respond to them the same way you’d respond to any negative feedback and be open to the fact that it is on a public forum. Invite the reviewer to contact your business directly on a private channel so that you may provide a great experience and work to resolve the issue effectively. 

How to deal with negative feedback 

Negative feedback occurs when customer experiences are less than their expectations. You cannot stop customers from leaving a review, but you can improve how you respond to it, which is a great starting point. You can even win back that person if you know how to reply to negative feedback. 

  1. Acknowledge the problem and take ownership
    Responding to negative feedback from customers as a business owner can be challenging, but don’t take it personally. Acknowledge the problem and the experience your customer or potential clients have had. This is the first step to making amends. 
  2. Respond quickly to new reviews
    Use reputation management software to stay on top of new reviews and use them for positive impact. You can be updated instantly, so have someone available to respond quickly. Responding to a negative review in under an hour is a good policy. 
  3. Make a sincere apology
    When you respond to reviewers, you need to sincerely apologize and explain that you’ll aim to do better in the future. Apologize that you couldn’t provide a great experience and are sorry they had such a wrong time with your brand. This opens up the dialogue that will enable you to fix the problem and turn a bad experience into a positive one. 
  4. Explain, not excuse
    The best negative feedback response is acknowledging the issue and explaining if there were other extenuating circumstances (like your systems were down, a blackout, etc.) but don’t make excuses. 
  5. Continue the conversation personally
    Provide your contact information so that you can follow up and continue the conversation personally to get some additional feedback. To understand more about what went wrong and to provide the person with compensation, you’ll need personal information, and this can and should only be obtained through private communications, such as a private message, phone call, or email. 
  6. Provide appropriate compensation
    Finally, to resolve the issue and close the feedback loop, consider what compensation would be appropriate. A small discount or money toward their next purchase can convince a customer who has had one negative experience with you to try again.  

Getting a second chance this way can turn a bad review into a loyal customer that helps you out by promoting your exceptional customer service and encouraging more positive reviews. 

Preventing loads of negative feedback 

The best way to deal with negative public reviews is to prevent negative feedback from happening in the first place. Using an instant feedback solution to measure customer satisfaction continuously, you can act upon customer pain points and improve their experience. 

How to respond to positive reviews and positive feedback to maintain consumer loyalty 

The good news is that it’s not all bad news. Potential customers look first and foremost at detailed reviews – good and bad – and responding to positive feedback can encourage more customers to leave glowing reviews. Though perhaps less often than the reverse, you’ll have customers who go above and beyond to recommend your business with positive feedback, and you should aim to respond and reward them. 

A small thank you for writing positive reviews can make that person and others like them feel more inclined to do business with you in the future and leave reviews to tell others about their positive experience. 

How do I know if I’m receiving negative feedback well? 

As humans, we’re much more likely to seek primarily positive feedback. When you see you received negative feedback, it can be a challenging experience, as it can sometimes feel personal and evoke defensive reactions.  

However, how you reply to negative feedback can significantly affect your personal growth and relationships. It’s crucial to assess whether you are receiving negative feedback well and using it as an opportunity for improvement. Here are some indicators to help you evaluate your approach: 

    1. Openness to feedback
      One of the critical signs that you are receiving feedback well is your willingness to listen and consider the positive impact the feedback can bring without becoming defensive after you collect feedback. You recognize that feedback, even if it stings, can provide valuable insights and perspectives. Instead of immediately dismissing or rejecting the feedback, you approach it open-mindedly. 
    2. Emotional control
      While negative feedback may trigger an emotional response, receiving it means managing your emotions effectively. You remain composed and avoid becoming defensive, angry, or hurt. You strive to stay calm and maintain a constructive attitude throughout the feedback process. Controlling your emotions creates a space for thoughtful reflection and understanding. 
    3. Seeking clarification
      When receiving feedback, you demonstrate a genuine interest in understanding the feedback more deeply. You ask clarifying questions to understand better the specifics, examples, or underlying reasons behind the feedback. This shows you are actively engaged in the feedback conversation and committed to improving. 
    4. Evaluating the feedback objectively
      Responding to negative feedback well involves stepping back and objectively assessing its validity. Rather than dismissing the feedback outright, you consider it from different perspectives, weighing its merits and potential areas for improvement. This objective evaluation helps you separate your ego from the feedback and focus on the message. 
    5. Taking responsibility
      Accepting responsibility for your actions or behaviors is vital to receiving negative feedback. Instead of shifting blame or making excuses, you acknowledge your part in the situation and recognize that feedback presents an opportunity for growth and learning. Taking responsibility demonstrates maturity, accountability, and a willingness to make positive changes. 
    6. Action-oriented mindset
      Receiving feedback well means viewing it as a catalyst for personal development. You approach it with an action-oriented mindset, actively seeking ways to implement the feedback and make meaningful changes. Rather than dwelling on the negative aspects, you channel your energy into constructive problem-solving and improvement. 
    7. Appreciation for feedback
      Even though negative feedback may be challenging to hear, receiving it well involves appreciating the effort and courage of those providing it and acknowledging the positive impact it can have. You recognize that detailed feedback is often given with good intentions and a desire to help you grow. Expressing gratitude for the feedback fosters positive relationships and encourages further open communication. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common mistakes people make when responding to negative feedback? 

When responding to negative feedback, people often make the following common mistakes: 

  • Becoming defensive: It’s natural to feel defensive when receiving negative feedback, but responding defensively can escalate the situation and damage your business’s reputation. Avoid taking the feedback personally and try to view it as an opportunity for improvement. 
  • Ignoring or deleting the feedback: Ignoring or deleting negative feedback can create the impression that you don’t care about your customers’ concerns. It’s essential to promptly acknowledge and address the feedback, even if it’s difficult to hear. 
  • Responding impulsively or emotionally: Responding to negative feedback while you’re upset or angry can lead to regrettable actions or statements. Take a moment to collect your thoughts, remain calm, and respond in a professional and constructive manner. 
  • Providing generic or insincere responses: Customers appreciate genuine and personalized responses. Avoid using generic templates or automated replies. Instead, take the time to understand the specific concern and craft a thoughtful response directly addressing the issue. 
  • Failing to take action or follow up: Responding to negative feedback is only the first step. To demonstrate your commitment to resolving the issue, take appropriate action and follow up with the customer. Failing to do so may lead to further dissatisfaction. 
How do I know if I’m receiving negative feedback well? 

Receiving negative feedback well is crucial for personal and professional growth. Here are some signs that indicate you’re handling negative feedback effectively: 

  • Openness and active listening: You listen attentively to the feedback without interrupting or becoming defensive. You genuinely consider the perspective of the person providing the feedback. 
  • Emotional control: You can manage your emotions and remain calm while receiving criticism. You understand that negative feedback is an opportunity for improvement rather than a personal attack. 
  • Seeking clarification and understanding: Instead of making assumptions, you ask questions to better understand the feedback. This demonstrates your willingness to learn and commitment to effectively addressing the issue. 
  • Reflecting on the feedback: You take the time to reflect on the feedback, both objectively and introspectively. You evaluate whether there are any valid points and identify areas for growth or improvement. 
  • Taking action: You use negative feedback as a catalyst for change. You take concrete steps to address the concerns raised and implement improvements in your behavior, products, or services. 
What are some best practices for responding to negative feedback on social media? 

Responding to negative feedback on social media requires a thoughtful approach. Here are some best practices to follow: 

  • Respond promptly: Acknowledge the negative feedback as soon as possible. Delayed responses can give the impression of indifference. Even if you need time to investigate or gather information, post a brief acknowledgment to let the customer know you’re looking into the matter. 
  • Stay professional and empathetic: Respond to negative feedback with a professional and empathetic tone. Show understanding and empathy towards the customer’s concerns, even if you disagree with their perspective. Avoid engaging in heated arguments or using confrontational language. 
  • Take the conversation offline: If the issue requires detailed discussion or personal information, suggest moving the conversation to a private channel such as direct messaging or email. This allows for a more thorough and personalized resolution while maintaining privacy. 
  • Address the issue publicly: While taking the conversation offline is important for privacy, it’s equally essential to address the issue publicly. A concise response acknowledges the feedback, outlines the steps you’re taking to address the concern, and invites further dialogue or follow-up. 
  • Follow up and follow through: Once you’ve resolved the issue or taken appropriate action, follow up with the customer to ensure their satisfaction. Publicly acknowledge the resolution and thank them for bringing the matter to your attention. This demonstrates your commitment to customer service and problem resolution. 
How do I handle negative feedback from a customer who is particularly upset or angry? 

Dealing with a customer who is upset or angry can be challenging, but it’s essential to address their concerns in a professional and empathetic manner. Here’s how you can handle negative feedback from an upset or angry customer: 

  • Remain calm and composed: It’s important to stay calm and composed, even if the customer’s tone is aggressive or confrontational. Take a deep breath and remind yourself not to take their anger personally. Responding with patience and professionalism can help defuse the situation. 
  • Listen actively: Let the customer express their concerns without interruption. Show that you’re actively listening by nodding, using empathetic statements, and summarizing their points. This demonstrates that you value their feedback and are committed to understanding their perspective. 
  • Show empathy and apologize: Express empathy for the customer’s experience and apologize for any inconvenience or frustration caused. Let them know that their feedback is important to you and that you’re committed to finding a resolution. 
  • Don’t argue or make excuses: Avoid engaging in arguments or making excuses, as it can escalate the situation further. Instead, focus on finding a solution or offering alternatives that can address the customer’s concerns. 
  • Offer a resolution: Work collaboratively with the customer to find a resolution that satisfies both parties. Ask them what they would consider a fair solution and propose options that align with your company’s policies and capabilities. 
  • Follow up and ensure satisfaction: Once the issue is resolved, follow up with the customer to ensure their satisfaction. This demonstrates your commitment to their experience and can help rebuild trust. 
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