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Hug Your Complainers: The Value in Negative Feedback

Published: Dec. 12, 2015

Online review sites have exploded, and consumers now factor online reviews heavily into their purchasing decisions. For the modern entrepreneur, customer reviews are an unavoidable cost of doing business. So, what do you do when you get a negative review or complaint online — whether onsite, on social media or anywhere in the digital space?

Don’t ignore it. 

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As difficult as it might seem, embracing negative feedback as a learning opportunity is the fast track to improving your performance. As long as you’re emotionally intelligent enough to accept that feedback, to learn from it, and to make the necessary adjustments. For much of our current C-Suite, who are well on their way to retirement, this is a scary concept and it’s often easier to shy away from, ignore, or want to delete negative sentiment. But in 2014, this is not the solution. In fact, taking this approach will only bring on the complainers stronger and in full force.

“By acknowledging and openly discussing the concerns of disgruntled customers on social media or anywhere digital, businesses may actually boost their reputations — and their bottom line.”

When you see a disgruntled customer online, don’t panic. Instead work to follow theses simple steps.

Step 1: Keep calm and carry on. A negative post or comment is not the end of the world. Typically when customers post unhappy reviews, they are caught up in emotions and are simply looking for someone to hear them out.

Step 2: Take it offline. The first key action, aside from not panicking, is to reach out to the customer and show empathy for what they’re experiencing, let them know that you’re there to help. Ask them to contact you outside the public landscape of the internet. Whether it’s in a private social message, an email, or via phone, take things offline. This will make for better one on one communication for problem resolution and will keep the disgruntled customer from continuing to post unfavorable comments.

Step 3: To respond or not to respond — that is the question. Never. And we repeat, NEVER, ignore a negative review online. Our first human reaction is to do everything in our power to hide or delete anything unfavorable. This will only fuel the fire. Always respond letting them know that you understand what they’re going through and you’re doing everything in your power to come up with a resolution.

Why is negative feedback valuable?

“Negative feedback is valuable for a number of reasons, most of which are difficult to see while you’re in the moment of receiving it. Particularly brutal feedback is always difficult to hear in the beginning. It’s an exercise in stretching your “humility muscle” and, in most situations, isn’t something that you’ll instantly see as valuable. For most people, the first inclination is to get angry and respond with an equally disgruntled tone. Not a good idea.

If handled properly, negative feedback can bring a strong sense of self awareness centered on your work, product and leadership qualities. Taking what you’ve learned and following it will always lead to a path of personal growth and success. All great entrepreneurs throughout history have embraced negative feedback and ultimately, learned how to grow successful businesses based on the needs of their customers.”

Embrace it as a learning opportunity. Negative feedback is a necessary component of improving your performance. The negative feedback you receive from any number of sources is an opportunity to learn from what you’re doing, an opportunity to make adjustments to what you’re doing in the future, and to produce better results. And at the end of the day, negative comments — when dealt with appropriately – often turn into astounded customers. Raving fans greatly outweigh the impact of a few complainers.

Ready to embrace your online reviews? Let’s chat!

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