Customer feedback can be incredibly valuable for growing your business, as it can help to highlight your strengths and the areas where improvements can be made. However, many businesses take negative feedback personally and respond in ways that can have a detrimental impact on their reputation. The influential nature of social media makes it even more important to think carefully before responding to negative customer feedback.
Read the Comments Carefully
Businesses often respond to negative feedback without taking the time to read the comments properly. Critical words can have an emotional impact, particularly on new business owners, and negative feedback can feel like a personal attack. However, it’s important to read the comments several times to check your understanding, as it can be difficult to judge the tone and intent behind text-based messages.
Seek Clarification and Specific Information
Ask the customer for clarification of the issue and request specifics, such as dates, order numbers and other information that will help you to investigate their complaint. Always try to remain neutral and professional when asking for this information. While you want to show the customer and other social media users that you are taking the complaint seriously, it’s usually best to avoid a discussion until you have investigated their claims.
Determine Your Responsibility
Investigating the customer’s claims should help you to determine how responsible you are for the problem. If the customer has a valid complaint, it’s important to acknowledge that you or members of your team have made a mistake. However, if the mistake could have serious consequences, it’s important to check with a legal professional before making any admission of responsibility.
If a customer has publicly criticized your business, products or services, it’s important to respond through the same public medium, as this shows other customers and social media users that you have listened and investigated. Apologise for any mistakes your company has made and try to find a resolution. If the customer has made false claims, it’s important to respond professionally and avoid making assumptions about their motivation for complaining.
Offer a Goodwill Gesture
A gesture of goodwill can go a long way towards placating an unhappy customer and preventing an escalation of the problem. Discounts, vouchers, free gifts and other items can all be used to make up for any inconvenience the customer has experienced. In addition, it’s important to let the customer know that, if they are still unhappy with the situation, you are willing to discuss the matter further, either privately or publicly. If possible, provide a telephone number or direct email address where they can contact you personally.
Social media can be an effective tool for communicating with your customer base, but it can also leave you open to public criticism. Dealing with negative customer feedback professionally and publicly is essential for minimizing the impact on your business. Listening to the customer’s complaint, investigating their claims and responding appropriately enables you to manage the conflict and prevent an escalation of the situation.