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3 Steps to turning negative customer feedback around

Contributor: Erica Bell
Posted: 10/11/2012
Erica Bell
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There’s no escaping it. At some point or another, or maybe in waves, your business will get complaints, poor customer reviews, and/or negative feedback. Small businesses and major corporations deal with this. With the influence of the internet on anonymity and spread of communications, customers are more vocal than ever about an unpleasant experience with a business or product.

Whether the calls are online, coming in through your business phones, or a handwritten letter, make sure you’re paying attention. Negative feedback, when fair and accurate, can allow your company to deal with legitimate problems in a way that makes your business stronger now and in the long run.

Step 1: Track Conversations

No matter where the negative comments are coming from, make sure you track who is saying it, their means of communication, and what the chief complaint is. Make sure you’re tracking mentions of your business on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and more. There are a number of platforms beyond email and phone calls where negative customer feedback can occur. Track conversations that are online and in-house.

  • Quick tip: Make the most of your CRM software. If you’re on the phone, receive an email, or see a review or tweet from a customer complaining about your business or product, make a note of it in your CRM system. Even if it seems minute, you may be able to rectify the situation immediately and build loyalty. You’ll also be able to compile feedback easier in the future.

Step 2: Analyze the Discussion

Spend some time considering why the customer had a negative experience and how it could have been avoided. Maybe it is your business’s fault or maybe it is something the customer did wrong. Whatever the case may be, make sure your level-headed and have your response well-thought out. The Kansas City Chiefs recently mismanaged a disgruntled fan’s tweets and felt a viral backlash. Avoid this by analyzing the problem and establishing a clear solution before reaching out to the customer.

  • Quick tip: Look into the customer’s overall experience, specific complaint and how they chose to address the problem. You’ll gain insight into who that customer is and how your business initially handled the situation. Small problems are easier to fix than big ones. Make sure you are classifying things as big and small properly. No matter the complaint, look for a way your company can turn this customer’s experience around.

Step 3: Make a Change

There may be a problem your business never noticed, or didn’t want to notice, that has been brought to the forefront. When complaints are justified, you need to address it. A 2011 RightNow study found that when customers received a response to their complaint, 46% were pleased and 22% actually posted a positive comment about the company or brand.

  • Quick tip: After you’ve recognized why the customer had something negative to say, spent some time working on a solution, address the problem. If this means making a quick return, providing more detailed direction on how a product or software is to be used, or getting the customer on the phone for more information, make sure you get in touch with the customer and do your best to correct the situation.

Remember, it’s easier to keep a current customer than go out and look for a new one. Many sales teams as well as call center and customer service representatives understand this mantra. It should be a focus for your business to address customer complaints, no matter the channel they come from. The negative communications from customers are also a way to evaluate where your business can use improvement and where it is succeeding.

Keeping those in mind, you’ll be able to provide recommendations for company growth, change and overall improvement.


Thank you, for your interest in 3 Steps to turning negative customer feedback around.
Erica Bell
Contributor: Erica Bell