How to manage negative customer feedback
By John Heffernan, EVC Marketing and CustomerCount WRAP Partner
What is customer feedback?
At its simplest level, customer feedback is authenticated and continuous measurement and reporting of customer experience in order to manage.
What is negative feedback?
Some may say that negative customer feedback is a response to poor service, poor product, poor salesmanship or at worst, a combination of each.
In truth, and readily backed by statistical surveys and analysis, we (and I do mean you and I) including our clients and prospects, are all too keen to complain and to highlight and share perceived negativity.
The fact remains that positive feedback remains the poor child to an overwhelming majority of negativity. This is fed by the ease of social media and email, offering shielded anonymity and instant gratification with aggressive, self-righteous and, sometimes, valid comments, posts, likes and mentions.
The business impact of negative feedback
From a business perspective, the impact on brands can be minor all the way through to calamitous.
Indeed, many major complaints have escalated from a small issue that was badly managed, ignored or remained unresolved.
We all make mistakes; we all have examples of client complaints that caused major issues where we have differing perspectives on the actual truth and events.
The old adage of the customer being always right may still hold true, but it is being stretched to breaking point by all too often unrealistic or unwarranted negative feedback.
The image cartoon above is a light-hearted way to depict a difference of opinion and negativity, which is often sourced from a polarized view of events.
How to manage negative customer feedback
Customer feedback, positive or negative, can be attained in a variety of ways including;
- Online Feedback and Surveys
- Customer service responses
- Individual complaints
- Social and digital media including rating sites
Perhaps the focus should be on:
- Improving your brand reputation (Reputation Management);
- Brand strategies to encourage positivity and 5-star reviews;
- Highlighting internal issues/training to prevent issues arising;
- Management buy-in and training on feedback management;
- Posting positive feedback to encourage more positivity (Reputation Marketing); and
- Having a plan!
In any form of sales training, sales being the foremost contact with a potential or existing client, a salesman is instructed to listen more than they speak. And any salesman will tell you, that is a task more onerous than it sounds!
Two ears and one mouth!
With two ears and one mouth, we should all listen at least twice as much as we speak. And listening may be the first step on the road to solving negative feedback.
- What is the problem?
- Is it siloed or potentially more widespread?
- Is the fault genuine and attributable?
- Can the negative be resolved with a positive response?
One way of managing negative feedback is to remember that an argument often has two sides and perhaps no ends.
If you can agree on the problem and resolution (perhaps without admittance of liability), the situation can usually be managed and an unhappy client becomes a satisfied advocate.
The skill in moving negative to positive cannot be underestimated in terms of customer service and lifetime value. Some important aspects to keep in mind include:
But when listening, the key is to actually hear what is being said!
You must distance knee-jerk or emotional reactions from a professional and caring stance.
Being argumentative or taking the moral high ground will only serve to escalate the problem. Get to the root of the problem. What is the problem? Ask questions, review the issue and consider the personal impact to the customer.
A resolution has to be two-way. It has to be satisfactory enough to turn the source into an advocate and sufficient enough to work for each party.
Share the solution, resolve the root cause, train and continue to train key staff, continue to review plans and strategy.
Positivity will win out!
Take steps and move forward with positive steps. Develop a positive brand reputation. And put resources into positive brand management.
CustomerCount delivers branded survey communications direct to your owners, clients and guests with questions that maximize response rates and get you the information you need.
Used as part of your reputation management and reputation marketing strategies, our surveys help you discover issues before they become negative feedback. And they support your daily activities providing real-time customer feedback that meets your business needs.
About EVC Marketing
John Heffernan and Emily Collins of EVC Marketing are WRAP’s digital marketing experts. With over 25 years in the travel/timeshare market working with developers and service providers such as RCI, Interval International, CLC World, DaE, RDO, EURoc and TATOC, the EVC team understands the very specific issues facing developers, resorts and exchange companies. EVC Marketing’s deep background in all aspects of the digital marketing spectrum puts them at the cutting edge of business to business market development.
CustomerCount is a feature-rich, cloud-based survey solution providing intuitive real-time reporting and detailed dynamic data gathering capabilities. It supports process improvement efforts, builds customer loyalty and improves ROI. CustomerCount was initially designed for the hospitality and contact center industries and is now used by organizations across numerous different vertical markets and industries. Follow them on LinkedIn or Facebook.