A couple of decades ago businesses were a lot less vulnerable to the impacts of negative client feedback. Back then, if someone was upset with their service provider, they would often call, express their concerns, and then, if the issue wasn’t resolved, verbally tell their friends and family about their bad experience. This had a negative impact on their bottom line, no doubt. But the negative sentiment was generally contained within the direct network of the disgruntled client and would diminish over time. Those were the good ol’ days. Anymore, with the whole internet, social media, and online review thing, negative word of mouth travels much quicker and lingers much longer.
But it’s not all bad. The same technology also offers opportunities to prevent, confront, and even spin negative feedback to your advantage. This requires business owners to implement the processes and tools necessary for them to effectively recognize and respond to issues before they are able to fester.
A common factor contributing to negative sentiment is the client’s inability to get in touch with their service provider. This disconnect serves as a catalyst to even the most routine service-related issues. A client may experience a minor incident with their account, but when they’re unable to reach their provider for a resolution, it adds to the frustration. This can be prevented by putting systems and processes in place to quickly identify and follow up with client problems.
Methods of improving dialogue with clients
- Attaching contact information on all correspondence which includes an email address and phone number of someone who can handle their issues. Clients shouldn’t have to navigate phone menus or a website to get in touch with the right person.
- A customer support ticketing system where clients can submit issues and concerns and monitor their progress. At Rocket Referrals, we recommend UserVoice for this type of service, although consideration should be given to specific industries.
- Offering live chat on the website. This is an easy way to connect with both clients and prospects that have questions about products and services. Several companies offer a widget installed on a website that will send a notification of new conversations.
- A dedicated mobile application that allows clients to communicate issues directly to the business. Most industries have vendors available that specialize in providing these apps to a business, which can be branded and passed down to clients.
Often times clients head straight to Facebook and Twitter to express their discontent. In the process they may tag the business in the post, allowing a large audience to connect the negativity directly with the company profile. This is an effective way to vent and gain the attention of the business in question. That being the case, a company should monitor their social media profiles to quickly identify and respond to these sorts of posts.
How to respond to negative feedback/reviews
Resolving negative feedback online should include both public and private responses, as the comments have a much larger impact if they’re left unresolved. All the major social media and online review platforms provide the opportunity for a business to respond directly to feedback, both negative and positive.
When responding to negative feedback a business shouldn’t appear defensive or combative. Rather, a polite and patient response will resonate more positively with the client and the public. Additionally, if possible, the disgruntled client should be contacted directly to resolve the issue. More often than not they’ll openly express gratitude for the response. This also shows onlookers that the business takes care of its clients when problems arise.
It’s also important to respond to negative reviews publicly as well. Google, for instance, allows you to comment on any review of your business – both positive and negative. Don’t miss an opportunity to tell your side of the story. Being proactive with handling client feedback goes a long way to prove your ability to respond and handle client concerns effectively.
Remember that your response should keep a positive tone. Your response should be short and sweet with the following attributes:
- Acknowledge their problem. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. Many times it’s just a misunderstanding that needs to be cleared up. Either way, let them know that you recognize their concern. Avoid being dismissive or patronizing. Prospects evaluate how you handle your detractors – your response says a lot about how you approach client relationships.
- Offer to resolve their issue offline. Responding to a bad review should be brief. No need to get into specifics – but you should offer to continue the dialogue further. Mention that you will contact them directly (if possible) and suggest that they could contact you as well. This avoids getting into the mud publicly – so that future people reading the review won’t become engrossed in the details. After you resolve the issue you could ask that the individual remove their review online – or at least follows up with a positive note.