Negative feedback can hurt.
And I don’t mean just in an emotional sense – it can impact the success of your business as a whole.
You see, the prosperity of a business largely depends on its reputation. The better that reputation, the better the chance of thriving – as you would naturally expect.
Yet no business is immune from negative feedback. Whether it’s some constructive criticism highlighting genuine faults with your service or the ramblings of a deluded madman, it is something you have to be prepared to face.
And the best way to prepare for such lashings of verbal abuse is by keeping in mind that old business adage: the customer is always right.
Now, you know that the customer is not always right, far from it in fact. But that is the mindset you have to be in when responding to criticism. Because replying back with a sense of entitlement is just asking for trouble.
So with that said, let me run through what you need to consider when answering back to criticism:
If someone has just gone on a lengthy rant that lambasts every nook and cranny of your business, responding in a polite manner can prove to be difficult.
Yet being the ‘bigger’ person is a necessity in not alienating your customer base.
The worst thing you want to do is be stubborn. Defending your business is fine, but stooping to the level (or below) of the person that is criticizing your business is the wrong way to go about it. It reflects badly on you, your organization and your brand. When a company becomes more known for its scathing responses to customers than the actual service it provides, then that is a catalyst towards failure!
Mitigating the problem and admitting your mistake – even if you feel that you haven’t done anything wrong – is the first step towards being courteous. You might have to bite your tongue to an extent, but it is something that needs to be done. When potential customers are looking up reviews and feedback, they’re inclined to side with the reviewer and not the business. Post an apologetic and thoughtful reply, however, and they will begin to empathize with your business.
The next step is then trying to rectify the problem. This could mean offering to replace a service/product that they purchased. Even if they don’t accept this proposition, those browsing the feedback will see the offer of generosity. And those that see it will realize that you care about the customer, and that your intentions are geared towards the viewpoint of helping resolve any problems that arise.
Always reply back
Whether it is someone sending you direct feedback via email or posting a review on an external website, always try and respond – regardless if the comments are positive or negative.
In terms of replying to criticism, it is something you should do at all times. Not only does it show your compassionate side and willingness to help/improve (good for business), but it should, in a roundabout kind of way, benefit your brand (again, good for business). The latter is true because, even though you have that criticism to begin with, you are displaying the integrity to rise above it and face the music so to speak – even when it is very easy to ignore.
Replying back also allows you the chance to defend your business if you feel it is unnecessarily slammed by a customer. This stops potentially hazardous words from festering into something much bigger, and gives you the chance to provide your point of view.
But remember: be respectful when shutting down such comments!
Take on board the comments
If someone sends some genuine constructive criticism your way, do not ignore the points that they have come up with. In the end, these comments can help you improve and grow your business for the better.
If you are spotting common trends or themes with the criticism, use that to your advantage. Having this feedback function in a business consultancy-type role is a great, and not to mention efficient, way to advance your organization.
And along with improving the service for the disgruntled consumer in the first place and hopefully getting them back on your side, you are also developing the service for the rest of your customers. It means problems are less likely to crop up in the future and reviews and feedback will, hopefully, improve overall as a result.