One thing we know for sure: our customers are quicker to criticise, than to praise! So what’s the best way to handle negative comments?
Nobody likes criticism, particularly if they feel they are working hard to do a good job. The reason we don’t like it, however, is because we are taking it the wrong way.
Our natural reaction to criticism is to take it personally. We see it as an attack on our abilities, our ideas, even our character. And if it’s your own business in the firing line, that can feel very personal indeed.
Turning A Negative Into A Positive
The trick to turning criticism into a positive, rather than a negative, is to remove yourself from the equation. It’s still your business, and therefore your responsibility, but avoid taking the criticism personally.
Start seeing negative reviews as an opportunity to improve; a tool with which you can make your business even better.
Life is a learning curve. Rather than focussing on negativity, anger, frustration and disappointment, try to become a ‘glass half full’ person.
Praise Really Isn’t Necessary
You know how good you feel when someone praises you, your business or your staff. You feel proud and happy. But praise doesn’t come often enough, right?
There’s a good reason for that: you are being paid to do a job or deliver a product. Therefore they should be no need for praise, because you are simply fulfilling a contract.
If no comment is made, it means you have done your job well. And if you receive a negative review, it’s time for improvement.
Online Reviews Will Affect Sales
There’s one very important point to remember: research reveals that customers consider online reviews as being credible. It can influence their buying decisions.
So if you receive a negative review, it’s crucial to respond quickly and correctly. Taking umbrage and either ignoring the comment, or responding with anger, will only damage your business in the end.
Read or listen to the comment carefully, and make sure you are calm and collected before responding. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this a valid complaint? Is it justified?
- Is this something I can fix quickly?
- Is this something that requires a system or staff change?
- Has this been caused by lack of staff training?
Welcome The Opportunity For Improvement
Very often a negative review will focus our minds on something we overlooked, something that is losing us customers. Therefore we should welcome the opportunity to change and improve.
If somebody uses an online site to attack you personally, and/or uses unacceptable language, remove the post if you can.
However, if a valid complaint has been made, honesty and transparency is the best option. Apologise. Thank the individual for their feedback. Don’t make excuses.
Listen To All Sides
Tell the customer that you are looking into the matter – and mean it! And, if appropriate, offer them a replacement or refund.
If the complaint revolves around a particular incident, or staff member, be sure to research what happened, and listen to all sides. A mistake by an employee is rarely intended. It may simply be a lack of knowledge or training, and that’s your mistake!
In most cases, it is better to respond to the customer personally. This shows that the matter is being taken seriously. It shows that you care. And it will go a long way to ensuring that person remains a customer into the future.
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