Responding to negative feedback from online clients is now a vital aspect of business in our highly digital world. It does not take long for negative reviews, that are not well managed, to go a little bit viral online. Consequently, these have the potential of smearing the image of your business and causing colossal damages.
However, it is the way you handle these negative feedback from online customers that really matters. You can turn responding to negative feedback into an avenue for productive engagements between you and your customers. Furthermore, it is the things that you say while responding to the negative feedback that are crucial. In the long run, people would mainly remember how you responded to negative feedback more than the negative publicity.
Listening as a Response
Listening is a critical skill you must arm yourself with before responding to negative feedback. Therefore, you would need to free yourself from sentiments and emotional bias so that you can listen objectively. You may feel the urge to defend yourself when responding to negative feedback. Moreover, you may not see logic in a client’s feedback when you listen with sentiments
It is also possible that the feedbacks were truly not objective. They may be purely emotional reactions from your clients, with no constructive criticism. However, instead of feeling torn down and out, focus on the myriads of customers and potential business relationships you have out there.
The Benefits of Listening
Listening first is crucial to building a business relationship. Hence, your ability to listen without sentiments when responding to negative feedback is instrumental in winning your customer over and possibly building loyalty to the brand.
The act of listening itself speaks. Listening is a quiet way to show your customer their opinion is valuable. In essence, it shows empathy; therefore, it helps to build trust. If your purpose is to have loyal customers, you will need to develop good listening skills
How to Listen
First, learn to listen with an open mind. We have addressed the importance of avoiding sentiments and emotional bias.
Avoid interrupting the customer. You may be on a live chat platform or on a moderated platform. The key thing is to let the client fully express himself.
Giving Your Response
Eventually, the time will come in the conversation that the customer will expect you to give a response to his feedback. Although in some cases, this may take a while, you will always get the opportunity to fully respond. Responding to negative feedback is something that requires caution and tact.
Consider the opportunity to respond like the only chance you have got to save yourself from a life sentence in front of a judge. The golden moment has come, and perhaps words jumping up in your mind are those for self-defense. Moreover, there may be pressure to provide logical responses to your emotional client.
When responding to negative feedback your attention should be on the client. The response should not be about how you feel, your company or any perceived damage to your brand. Your client is the focus.
Therefore, this is the period you seek to get clarity from the client through empathy. Ask leading questions to be sure what really caused the negative feedback. Understanding the emotions behind the negative feedback will help you pull through in winning customers back.
Your initial calm listening approach gave you the upper hand. While in responding, you seek to use the information you got to diffuse the issues. You also need to listen even more when responding to be sure that your response is effective. You will also get to understand the expectations and needs of your customers. You should never assume that you know these.
More on Your Response
Your aim should not be to prove your customer is wrong. No one enjoys being wrong, and certainly not a customer who spent his hard earned money even if he is absolutely on the wrong side. In fact, proving to your customer that he is wrong is not going to solve the problem but may make it worse. This will create an undue tension that may cause the issue to be more complicated and take longer time to solve.
Asking for more time to solve the problems that are posed to you from online customers may be an option to consider. Once you have listened to the complaints of the customers, sometimes, what you need to do is apologize and ask for time to look into the matter.
Therefore, this gives you enough time to plan effectively on how to handle the situation. Moreover, you are free from making wrong judgements in sensitive cases which require you to have deeper understanding of the matter. This will save you from giving quick and poorly researched responses that could have a damaging effects.
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The Ideal Prompt Response
Responding to negative feedback requires immediate action. A prompt response is key and perhaps the first step to take in ensuring you salvage the image of your business. This prompt response is usually not intended to immediately solve the problem at hand. However,, it shows that you are listening.
The response is to engage the customer by asking more questions which may give you insights into what to do. This act of engaging the customer in itself gives a sense of fulfillment or satisfaction for the client expressing that is himself. Therefore, it douses the negative emotions coursing through the customer. Furthermore, this can turn to your favor.
Timely and Meaningful Resolution
Ensure to resolve the issue quickly. The effect of your initial prompt response will wane if you delay the resolution of the issue(s) at hand. You may also try responding to negative feedback through channels like email or direct messaging platforms. Via these channels, engage the client using appropriate client relation skills and attempt to build trust and loyalty.
Consequently, having direct communication with the client has the potential to make him come out openly to commend your efforts in handling the situation, thereby, giving the image of your organization a big boost. Conversely, you could worsen the matter if you are the one requesting that the customer comes out openly to commend you. Do not hesitate to appreciate the commendation if he should ever do that publicly.
The fact that you got feedback, howbeit negative, from a customer is an opportunity to scrutinize and improve on your products or services. Therefore, do not take it lightly. Rest assured that the client would narrate your response and how promptly and well you were able to handle these feedback to others within his circle of influence. In reality, these people within his influence are potential customers. What would be the focus of the matter would not be the negativity, but your ability to effectively manage the situation.
Edited by Kelechi Duru