You know that price and product quality is not enough to win customer loyalty today. Their positive experience at all levels of the sales funnel is what matters: 86% of buyers are ready to pay more for it.
And, as you know, customer experience is overly dependent on how your brand communicates with them at every touchpoint. But no matter how hard you try to please customers, negative feedback will happen anyway.
More than that:
- Only one of ten happy customers will leave a positive review, while customers with a negative experience are twice or three times more likely to tell about it online.
- Many people are skeptical about positive reviews, considering them potentially fake: When researching your business, 89% of them will read negative reviews about it and your response to them.
But here goes the good news: 70% of unhappy customers will come back if you resolve their complaints. With all that said, it’s time to master the art of turning negative feedback into positive customer experience, agree?
What to Do With Negative Feedback from Customers
First and foremost, don’t ignore it. While some brands work hard to delete negative comments to save face, such tactics do more harm than good. In today’s digital era, customer feedback is a powerful weapon able to destroy your brand reputation. So:
1) Respond ASAP
According to surveys, customers are ready to wait for about an hour when it comes to responses on social media. When speaking about call centers, the maximum waiting time is 28 seconds. So the sooner you provide them with feedback to their comments, the better.
83% of complainers admit they like and wait for brands to follow up with a response or apology; otherwise, most of them are ready to abandon a brand they love after one or the few negative experiences.
2) Go Public First, Private Afterward
Customers can share feedback wherever they find it relevant: via phone, on your websites, in social media groups or online communities, under your Facebook ads, at your business pages on social media, etc. Your task is to monitor your brand mentions and react accordingly.
When it comes to public complaints, make sure to respond publicly before taking those conversations private.
- First, it will show others that you don’t ignore negative feedback and that you are open to communication.
- Second, it will help you control the situation: An angry customer sees that you are here, and you’ll therefore prevent further negativity from their side.
After you’ve responded to a public complaint, feel free to contact a complainer via email or messengers and sift a question to the bottom.
3) Listen, Reflect, Sympathize
Read or listen to customer feedback carefully. If talking to a customer by phone, don’t interrupt and don’t hurry up to answer: Give them time to express concerns.
Then, please do your best to let them know you are on the same wave: Mirror what they say so they would feel heard and understood. Show your empathy and willingness to help. Customers should feel that you are on their side, even if you can’t do anything with their complaint:
Feel free to ask questions or elaborate details: It will let customers know you take their concern and look for a solution.
4) Fix the Problem
Often, negative feedback happens because of misunderstanding. What you need to do here is go straight to the point of the issue to understand its source. It will help to reveal a communication gap and find compelling arguments for your response.
Overcommunicating all the gaps so the customer would know where you went wrong, do your best to fix the problem. There’s no need to go too far with excuses (You’ve already done it at the beginning of your conversation, haven’t you?); instead, offer the options to solve the problem: a refund, a free month of service, a discount, or any other relevant decision.
5) Stay in Contact
Even if you still don’t have any updates or solutions to offended customers’ problems, communicate with them anyway to show that you care.
Please provide them with hourly updates, remind them that you’re actively working on the solution, offer some alternative options while they are waiting, etc.
How to Turn It into Positive Customer Experience
If you develop the principles of communicating with angry customers and follow the above steps, you’ll see that complainants return to their original feedback with a “thank you.” Customers appreciate healthy communication from brands, so they value your efforts to help; moreover, big chances are they’ll start advocating your brand after your feedback on their negative reviews.
But your work is not over after you’ve converted an angry customer into a happy one.
Do you know that 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain, and 91% of those will simply leave? So if one customer tells you about a problem, you can only imagine how many more could experience the same issue but keep silent!
That said, you might want to pay attention to each complaint, analyze that negative feedback, and think about what you can change or improve in your brand to cultivate positive customer experience.
More than that, don’t hesitate to ask customers for feedback. You never know unless you ask, right?
Collect feedback and write down every complaint you get to analyze them weekly or monthly and see which are more systematic than others. It will help to reveal where your business needs work and address those issues before things get worse. For that, monitor your brand mentions, analyze backlinks and reviews from angry customers, and get together all your department heads at the end of a month to discuss the situation.
Then, have a plan.
What will you do in case everything goes wrong, and your business gets bombarded with negative feedback? Are your communication managers and customer support team ready to navigate a situation? Do you have a corresponding software and social media management tools to monitor everything and react swiftly?
It would help if you had a clear plan (or even a tutorial) on how to work with negative feedback and avoid collapses in your brand interactions.
Case in point: Slack
On November 23, 2015, the platform stopped working. It went down. Nothing. Darkness. Panicked users came to Twitter and bombarded it with tons of messages, complaining or joking at the situation. However, it couldn’t prevent Slack from gaining 3,000+ new followers that day!
The entire team of Slack went to Twitter and sent out 2,300 messages to those users in about ten minutes. That wasn’t an accident but a previously-developed plan on what to do in case of disaster.
In a Word
No matter how hard you try to please customers, negative feedback will happen anyway. The good news is that your business not only can turn it into positive customer experience but also use it for brand growth and distinguishing it from competitors.
So, listen to your unhappy customers, let them know you care, manage their feedback, and do your best to turn every complaint into the opportunity to minimize future negativity and drive effective changes for your business.
By Lesley Vos, Content Writer and Strategist at Bid4Papers blog.