How to Understand and Act on Customer Feedback

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Customer at Restaurant
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The moment a business is open, it is also open for customer feedback. Long before the Internet, big department stores had a department dedicated to customer service where you could register your displeasure. You could also send a letter to a local newspaper.

Today, customer feedback is instantaneous. A customer could literally post a comment while still at the business.

Those comments can be full of positive praise or negative rants. It is important to your business that you develop a strong strategy for how you’re going to handle customer feedback.

Why Do People Leave Feedback?

One bad or good review isn’t going to make or break a business. However, consistent reviews leaning towards one of those sides can have an impact. A business should allow for reviews to be posted on their website. Without that, a customer might be wondering what that business has to hide. Reviews won’t just be uploaded to a company website.

They can also be posted across all kinds of social media platforms with hashtags that bring other customers into the discussion. Because you should have an active social media account, you are opening yourself up for this type of feedback. That can work in your favor.

A majority of potential customers trust online reviews. According to Podium, “usually it’s either a very positive or negative customer experience.

But emotional experience isn’t the only reason customers leave reviews; they also post for other reasons, such as to help people make informed decisions, express appreciation, and help companies improve.” Whether it is a movie, restaurant or vacuum cleaner, everyone will be doing their own version of “research” to determine if this where they should spend their money. Those reviews can help make an informed decision.

Avoid Being Defensive

The first instinct when getting a negative review online is to push back. Clearly, that customer just has an ax to grind and they could never be pleased. That might be true, but being defensive could backfire and lead to a viral battle. It will help if you can process the comments and wait a few hours before responding.

According to Zbigniew Gecis, “it’s human nature to react when we get negative feedback. The key is distancing your emotional self and taking the remarks as you would listen to a doctor’s advice that you eat less salt. Next, accept the negative feedback with openness and gratitude.” You might also want to look into the incident because it might be that the customer actually was right with their criticisms.

Acknowledge and Apologize

Customers want to feel like they are being treated with respect. From their point of view, they are paying you for a service or product. That is their hard earned money that they are willing to give up. It means a lot to them. When something goes wrong with their purchase, your first instinct should be to acknowledge and apologize.

This lets the customer know they are being heard and that you are going to take proactive measures to prevent whatever went wrong from happening again. That could go a long way towards de-escalating the situation and winning back that customer.

Boost Your Business

Whatever response you make to online customer feedback will be read by a lot of other potential customers. They’ll want to see how you’re going to handle this situation.

Your response is an opportunity to boost your own business by reminding the online community about your company’s history and dedication to providing excellent customer service. According to Business 2 Community, “addressing negative comments or situations with an explanation and solution can help recover the relationship with that customer, which will add to your brand’s overall value.” You don’t have to brag as much as reframe your mission statement. Remind those customers why they chose your business in the first place.

Move the Discussion Offline

A customer lodges a complaint online. You’ll want to respond online so everyone knows that you’re paying attention. After that initial public response, you’ll then want to move the discussion offline.

You can provide information for the customer and suggest that get back in contact with you in order to resolve the matter. This will avoid a lot of back and forth with the posts. You want to have a dialogue in person and not a text battle.

Learn from the Experience

Finally, the best way to handle customer feedback is to learn from the experience. One irate customer might just have been in a bad mood. However, if dozens of customers are complaining about the same issues, then this is something you want to take notice of. Take ownership of what went wrong so that you recognize the problem and prevent further blame from being thrown at you.

Owning the issue will allow you to focus on finding a solution instead of stemming a flood of anger.” It is something that needs to be rectified in your company. Of course, once you make those changes, you can put up your own post to let everyone know the problem has been solved.

The worst thing you can do with any online feedback is ignore the comment. Your social media presence needs to be active. Your customers want to know that you’re paying attention. That holds true for a one-man operation and a Fortune 500 company.

The customer can be right, and they can also be heard. By taking into account what they have to say, you can make your customers happy and improve your company’s success.

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