As a director of marketing, there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t receive at least one form of negative customer feedback.
In my role, I have a lot of contact with existing and potential customers, many of who, are under the impression I enjoy hearing their two cents.
They aren’t wrong.
In fact, I’ve become quite apt at dealing with negative customer feedback and commentary—so much so, that diluting any tension that exists now comes
Here are six tips for dealing with negative customer feedback on a daily basis.
Take nothing personally
The most important thing to keep in mind when someone sends you a long-winded email complaining about your service, is to keep calm and not take it
Most of the time, when someone is lashing out at you, it’s because:
They are confused and didn’t take the time to understand something.
They legitimately don’t think you’re even going to answer them.
For instance, I received this reply after an automated email asking for feedback about our infographic
As you can see, he first claims that the tool is terrible. If I were to take this personally and assume it were true, I’d probably give up right
then and there.
Consider if someone you cared about suddenly called you useless at a subject you considered yourself to be an expert of, it would hurt. This comment
though, is coming from a random individual, not a friend, so leave the personal feelings out of it. Here’s another example of an e-mail I received. Again,
this individual did not really understand the way the tool worked, and likely due to stress, lashed out.
Upon receiving this email I could tell she was upset because she had a deadline to meet and was having issues with the how-to of the product.
I did not take it personally and immediately responded with the following:
Keep your communication style directly focused on the problem, approaching emotional customers from an unemotional place. It’ll be better for everyone
If you aren’t certain about how to respond to a complaint, ask your “Negative Nancy” for clarity.
Most of the time, when an individual claims your product or service is useless to them, it’s because they haven’t taken the necessary steps to learn how to
properly make use of it.
Ask them to directly identify the step in the process they need help understanding and you’ll be amazed how grateful they are for getting a response.
Give clear instructions and ask objective questions about the issue they might be facing. To be helpful, you need to be as specific as possible with what
you need them to do. Find out what they did immediately before the issue occurred, and what their attempt to resolve the situation was. Their responses
will likely provide you with new insight and give you what you need to solve their problem.
If you are personally being critiqued because of a service you provided, you should ask yourself three important questions:
What worked/what did I do right?
What didn’t work/what did I do wrong?
How can I improve?
In the retail and hospitality industries, a common expression when it comes to service is “the customer is always right.” Although this can be a difficult
statement to accept, it’s often true. If someone is paying for a product, they expect to get their money’s worth, and every single person defines value
Before jumping into attack mode, recognize that:
You can deem the feedback as “harmful”, and simply not respond
You can choose to consider the feedback as useful, and engage in the kind of self-reflection necessary to learning to handle things better and more
positively in the future.
It’s my opinion to always consider imperfection. It’s wise to seek feedback on improving your technique and your craft, who knows who it will benefit down
Keep it professional
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, there are certain social situations which produce the same response in our brains as when we are in physical danger. There is a valid reason why feedback
can feel so uncomfortable. It’s our “fight or flight” response kicking in.
The trick to this, is identifying this feeling, and knowing when to take a step back and analyze whether your instinctual response is logical and
beneficial, or potentially detrimental to your professional appearance.
When in doubt, do not respond to a comment, email or review immediately. Take the necessary to rationalize an appropriate way to respond.Keep in mind you
always have a choice to engage in conversation. Go back to points one and two and try to understand the specific customer’s motives.
There is often a chance that what you are reading and what is implied are being misconstrued.
Kill with kindness
Let’s go back to the example above with the woman who was frustrated because of her deadline and spending hours on an infographic, only to find out she
couldn’t print it.
What do you think would have happened had I ignored her or simply wished her the best of luck?
She probably would have gone and told all of her friends and acquaintances never to use our service. Instead, remain confident in your skills and in your
product, and diffuse any tension by responding politely and offering guidance as opposed to further criticism.
The goal is to do everything in your power to ensure your customer is satisfied.Sometimes that means pulling some strings for them, or taking additional
time to respond to a cry for help.
You should understand it’s impossible to please everyone. People will either hate you because they don’t understand you or don’t believe in what you’re
I once wrote an article for the Inquisitr, and overnight it reached more than 25,000 views. I was very
excited and dove into the comments people left on the page. Of the nearly 30 comments, every one of them was negative.
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At first, I was aggravated and wanted to debate each person that commented. I quickly realized the only reason they were being so aggressive was because
they didn’t understand the issue I was defending.
There will be groups of people respond negatively to ideas they do not relate to or understand, and unfortunately there isn’t much you can do about it
aside from walking away from their negativity.
All you can do is stick to your beliefs, hold on to your integrity and simply move on.
Negative customer feedback isn’t all bad
Negative customer feedback is unavoidable, but it isn’t all bad. Everyone has an opinion and feels a need to share it with you whether you ask for it or
not. The best thing to do is take feedback in stride and learn from it.
is a visual content and digital marketing specialist and part of the team at Venngage, an online infographic maker. A version of this article originally appeared on Spinsucks.com.