Let’s be honest. After working so long and with all our passion for something, one of the hardest things to deal with is feedbacks. Of course, I’m not talking about the ones which are exceptional and encourage us to do better — anyone loves to be praised for their work.
No, the significant problems that I see happen when someone has to deal with negative feedback. It’s obvious that nobody likes to be criticised, especially if the feedback isn’t a well-reasoned group of sentences, but only a confused rambling about how the service was terrible and the customer service was awful, and blah blah blah this customer promises to ruin us and never buy from us again.
Yelp and TripAdvisor are an excellent example of such a situation. Just a quick look revealed that inside the category “negative feedback” we can have two different types:
- The “I don’t want a solution, I just want to ramble” group, where they complain about one or more aspects of their personal experience — often using a vast amount of hyphens — without exposing clearly the problems or even ignoring the attempts from a manager to understand what exactly happened.
- The “One or two things prevented me from enjoying my experience with your business” group, where customers voice their disappointment towards what didn’t make their time perfect, and they seem at least willing to talk with a supervisor.
Both groups can be found in any situation where an entrepreneur or a brand decides to give space to their customers’ feedback.
For example, Mr. Smith complains about how slow the team of a Firm he worked with, was to complete the project he commissioned. On the other side, the firm, knowing that the work took so much time to be completed because Mr. Smith added last – minute changes day after day. However, a reply along the line “We were late because of you changing your mind every other day!” isn’t going to be beneficial to the cause. Other users will likely read this answer as petty and defensive.
Much better-writing something polite that recognise the delay, and vaguely explains what happened.
“We’re very sorry you aren’t 100% satisfied, and we’ll do our best to improve. Your project required many last – minute changes, and we wanted to give you the best version of it.” sounds much better than the first option. Nobody says you can’t defend your job, as long as you don’t become defensive.
And yet, I saw even the best professionals slipping and snapping at least once after reading a particularly rude comment.
What can you do to avoid this situation?
Simple, do nothing! You don’t have to answer, reply, or worried — you need to save your time and energy for what you’re great at, doing your job.
Instead, hire an expert that will deal with these complaints about your business. It can be a single professional or part as a team like ours in Targeto, but the important thing is that it won’t be you:
- As said, a professional digital marketer will save you time and the possible headache to deal with unpleasant situations. They don’t own your business, so they’re not as involved as you are, and yet they want you to succeed, so they will take care of all your clients.
- Plus, a competent one will understand which problems feedback is enlightening about your business, and they will report them to you.
- A survey enlightened that 83% of entrepreneurs who hired a third party to deal with feedback would make the same choice again, finding that professionals keep them adjourned while avoiding them the drama. 39% of these entrepreneurs also gave their marketers the power to decide if they want to provide a discount for a long — term customer complaining, or compensation in a form they think it’s acceptable.
This last consideration brings us straight to another important reason you have not to feel personally attacked by negative feedback: they can give you useful information about flaws or problems of your business that you’re unaware of. Think about it; feedback is the quickest way to realise how your brand is doing if it’s talking to the right audience, if your product is meeting the expectations. A less than positive feedback is unpleasant, and yet so useful. Checking how a brand is doing is one of the main reasons behind the questionnaires that big companies send you after a purchase: they want to check how their employees are doing, if the website and the social channels are responsive and what you think of it.
Keeping customers’ opinions in mind while doing a business is a great method for shaping a successful product.
And I’m not only talking about negative opinions. The focus is mostly on them because entrepreneurs find more difficult giving these clients a satisfactory answer, but you shouldn’t ignore the positive impressions.
In general, the rules are:
- Write a thank you reply when someone takes the time to write something about your business.
- Let them know you’ve shared it with your team, either to let them know the team is grateful for the kind words or that they’re working to improve
- Use their names or whatever they use to sign their comments. A personalised answer is recognisable by tiny details like this one.
- Avoid pre-written formula. Recent research found out that 49% of customers scroll past other comments to see if the words used in their reply has been already used. It doesn’t take that much time changing slightly answer to adapt to it, and the results are often a happier client.
When it comes to negative feedback, here it is how you — or your marketer — can proceed:
Apologise and show empathy to the reviewer
If the customer is right, the best way to act is by admitting the mistake and apologise. Don’t demand to have the last word and don’t let it became an online fight. Maybe the customer is excessive with their demands, but demonstrating sympathy, it will help to deescalate the situation. Customers usually value honesty and patience and, as we said, being sincere with yourself about whatever happened is an effective way of improving the engagement with a customer.
As we said, reading online criticism can make you feel uncomfortable or angry, especially if these comments are unreasonable or saying just part of the story. Put everything back in perspective. Think of it as a shop: once the transaction is over and the client has left your store, you can’t control what they’re going to say. Maybe you think they had a great experience, just to find out that they told people how terrible was the way you packed their purchase. The point is that you can’t control people’s opinions — and you have no right to do so — but you can control your answer. Online drama often backfires to the one that didn’t put an end to it, and you don’t want to be on that side. You’re online to do business, not to be meme material. A snapping response to an unsatisfied client will only make things worse. Be courteous, be polite, and answer quickly.
Fix the problem
Read what they have written and found a way to right the wrong. Customers want to know that you’re interested and invested in fixing the things not because they are writing a public post, but because you care for them, that for you a customer is a person, not a number of your register. Don’t be afraid to address whatever the customer is signaling you, and reassures them that your team is working on it — if this can be fixed — or that they’re reviewing the feedback. You can also offer a small compensation for the trouble if you feel it will further help you to relax the situation. It doesn’t have to be huge, but replacing a broken object or offering a voucher for their next purchase are appreciated gestures.
And if you have to fight back…
You were polite and tried to make the customer happy, but they don’t want to see reason. Not being adversary doesn’t mean letting people scream or insult you. Your best weapon, in this case, is to reply with a calm, warm post where you explain your brands’ values and why your team dealt with the situation as it did.
If I have convinced you how important it is to interact in the right way with a customer, why don’t you contact us as Targeto? If you want to strengthen your online presence managing in the right way your social channels, we’re the Digital Advertising Agency that can help you. Our team of highly qualified digital marketers is able to take care of your social channels, answer your customers, engage with them, and do everything necessary to make your brand shine above all others.