Negative feedback is almost universally feared by businesses. However, a new way of thinking by business professionals about negative reviews is starting to define them not as failures, but rather growth opportunities. In listening to their customers and learning from past mistakes, businesses can demonstrate a willingness to work on rectifying issues, showing a tangible dedication to their customers that can help to gain a competitive advantage.
As with anything that requires you to disregard personal feelings and approach things using dispassionate professionalism, taking on board negative feedback can be easier said than done — but it can be done, and should be. Here are our top tips for turning negative experiences into positive ones!
Collect customer reviews
Customer reviews will informally happen all over the internet in various guises, and across different channels, so the best thing to do is manage that output by using a trusted third-party review website. That way you can capitalise on the data it provides and stay in control of the situation. Services, such as Feefo, allow for insights to be drawn from feedback given on themes, keyword phrases and emotive language.
Ensuring customers know where and how to leave reviews for a business means they’re more likely to be honest, forthright and willing to give information. While those who have had a negative experience tend to share a review more readily than those who have had a positive one, but that shouldn’t slant the need for a central review facility.
If you’re looking for more on how to make people leave you a review, read here for proven tips and tricks from Feefo.
Identify trends and themes
Although negative reviews do happen in isolation, there are often common themes and trends that emerge from reviews for businesses to learn from. Intelligent review facilities, such as Feefo, allow for re-occurring issues and pain points to be identified, for businesses to learn and work from to instigate improvements.
Once the exact issues are understood, action can be taken to resolve them or, if that is not possible, to at least ease them to the benefit of customers. Proving that a business has understood and moved to improve an issue demonstrates great customer commitment, as well as a willingness to learn.
Where negative reviews are often very emotive and frustrated in tone, it can be difficult to ascertain where exactly an issue has occurred. In these circumstances, businesses should ask concise, easy-to-understand questions that help to quickly identify where things have gone wrong. This allows for quick dispute resolution and to ensure the root of the problem is understood, and rectified as necessary.
Frustrated customers may only tolerate questioning to a point if they’re particularly emotionally involved in an issue so questions must be kept concise and to the point.
Treat each piece of feedback individually
Even if you give the same response to groups of comments, it is critical that the customer does not know this. The approach taken toward each customer should not be ‘copy-and-paste’ in nature. Customers must be able to feel their individual concerns are being listened to in an appropriate manner. The language used should be relevant to the complainant, while many industry bodies recommend thanking customers for complaints as it can highlight areas for improvement, to the benefit of the business as well as customers.
Truly integrate improvements
There is no ongoing business benefit to reactively taking action to resolve complaints one by one if themes or occurrences emerge. Instead, each piece of negative feedback should be evaluated and the issue resolved at its root so it doesn’t happen again for other customers.
Integrating a culture of continuous improvement throughout an organisation allows for incremental improvements in products and services, which will help you meet the goal of continually exceeding customer expectations.
Present a resolution
Once the negative feedback has been acted upon, it is imperative that customers understand the business has worked toward a positive outcome. This may be communicated as a response to the review publicly (demonstrating to those reading who will not be privy to other communications that any issues have been resolved), or direct to the customer through whichever communication channel is most appropriate for them. This presents a second opportunity for thanking them, especially if a wider resolution has been made and they have fed positively into business processes and practices.
Customers will usually react positively to dispute resolution, especially if they feel the company has gone the ‘extra mile’ to make things right. Such willingness to work will be viewed in itself positively by others and shows what all customers want to see — that the business cares about them and will accommodate them in whatever way they can.