Negative reviews happen; it’s how you respond to them that makes all of the difference.
Did you know that having a perfect, five-star average on review sites can actually undermine trust in your business with prospective customers? That’s because people know that you are human, and they expect to see one or two negative reviews.
Negative feedback happens to all of us. We all make mistakes from time to time, but even if you’re putting forth your best effort, you can’t expect to please everyone. That’s just not how life works. But, here’s the thing, negative feedback doesn’t have to be a bad thing; it can give you an opportunity to get better.
What truly determines the impact negative feedback has on your business is how you choose to respond to it. Here are your options when responding to feedback about your business:
#1. Listen and get better.
It’s easy to be dismissive of feedback that you get about your business, especially when you don’t particularly agree with the feedback or it goes against the grain of the typical customer experience you aim to provide. However, that doesn’t mean that the feedback is useless. In fact, if you take the time to listen, you’ll probably end up learning a lot.
When someone provides you with feedback, you can either look at it as a complaint or as the information you need to get better. If one person had a particular experience with your business, chances are, others have had similar experiences in the past. And, if you’re serious about providing your customers with the best possible experience, that information can go a long way toward helping you do so.
No matter what kind of feedback you get about your business, use it as an opportunity to get better. You’ll never get a more honest look at what customers think about your business than by asking them, so make it a point to listen carefully.
#2. Ignore it and stay the same.
Whenever you get feedback from customers, or even employees, you always have the option to ignore it and keep doing what you’re doing. If the situation was really a one-off experience that isn’t indicative of the service you provide, you may be able to get away with this strategy, but you also won’t benefit from it at all.
Not only does ignoring feedback prevent you from being able to make necessary changes within your organization; it undermines your commitment to your customers. Most businesses care deeply about providing their customers with the best possible experience, but you can’t possibly do that if you’re ignoring the feedback they’re giving you.
When a customer gives you feedback, they want to know that you’re listening. If you don’t, there’s a strong possibility that they won’t keep giving you their business in the future. Competition is fierce out there, and that’s true of every market and industry. Staying ahead of the competition relies on your ability to roll with the punches and do what’s best for your customers, even if you don’t fully agree with the feedback you’ve been given.
Another disadvantage of ignoring feedback publicly is that it makes it look a lot like you really don’t care that much about providing your customers with the best possible experience. When you leave negative feedback unanswered online, it says a lot about your business and your commitment to customer services — none of it positive.
#3. Get combative and make the situation worse.
What’s worse than ignoring negative feedback online? Getting combative and defensive in your response.
While fake reviews do happen online, most of the negative feedback a business gets is from legitimate customers who just want to be heard. Most aren’t sharing their feelings to personally hurt you or to seek revenge. They legitimately feel the way that they feel, and if you’re dismissive of those feelings, the world is going to notice.
Have you ever read an exchange in which a business owner argues with someone over a negative review right there in the comments? Even if the business owner has a good point or a good reason as to why the feedback isn’t accurate, this kind of public argument is only going to make you look petty and unprofessional.
It’s important to remember that lots of people are going to see your response to negative reviews, not just the person who wrote the review in the first place. If you’re dismissive and rude about one customer’s concerns, what’s to stop you from acting the same way when a new customer has a concern?
Getting combative is a surefire way to lose customers. And, what’s more is that it takes away any opportunity you have to do a better job for your customers in the future.
No one is better equipped to provide you with feedback about the customer experience you’re providing than your customers. That feedback is worth its weight in gold, and it behooves you to really listen. What I’ve found is, how somebody feels is how they feel, right or wrong, and if that’s how they feel, they feel that way for a reason. We can take defense to feedback and argue against it all we want, but it doesn’t change how they feel. So, our only recourse is to self-reflect on what we can do better to positively affect how they feel. As with any feedback, we can choose to get bitter or get better.
Happy marketing! – Alex