In an ideal world, we would serve our customers and they will be so happy they will never complain. In the real world though, despite our best efforts, we sometimes miss the mark and leave unhappy customers. How we react to their feedback will determine if we keep or lose them.
As a business owner, negative feedback gives you an opportunity to improve your products and services. So here are some tips to help you change your lemons to lemonade.
When you get negative feedback:
1. Respond quickly: Many times when someone gives a negative feedback they really feel bad and want to be heard. If the complaint is made verbally, spend sometime talking to the customer. Hear them out and work swiftly to rectify it. If it is done online, answer as soon as you see it and seek to move the conversation offline. Remember the audience is larger here, (customers and prospects) and they will be watching keenly to see what you do.
2. Be sincere: The tendency for most companies is to automate processes, such that even when interacting with actual people, it can feel like you are talking to a robot. Always seek to make a connection. And for this, empathy is key as it is easy to tell when someone is fake.
3. Own up: Responding to negative feedback is not the time to shift blame. Acknowledge the complaint and take responsibility for getting it solved. Also remember that complaints do not necessarily mean that something is wrong with your business. It might just be a misunderstanding.
4. Be patient and professional: Don’t rush people. Give them an opportunity to unburden and let off steam. Also do not take it personal. It is not about you. It is about the business. Seek a common ground with the customer and ensure that they are at least satisfied with your planned resolution of the problem.
5. Use your plan: Be proactive by putting in place a planned process for handling customer complaints. It is very upsetting when a customer has a complaint and is transferred from place to place. It only aggravates the situation and makes the customer feel worse. Have a clear channel or line of reporting complaints. This should be accompanied by possible remedial actions.
For a business to remain profitable and successful, customer satisfaction must continually be a key focus.
How do you handle customer complaints in your business? Please share in the comments below.