Photo credit: kortini
You know that saying "You can please all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but not all of the people all of the time"? It couldn't be truer than when it comes to your business. It's pretty much an inevitability that someone out there in the social webosphere will post negative feedback about your products or brand on a blog, review site, or online forum.
It's challenging (to say the least) to read that negative stuff about the business you've worked so hard to grow; but that doesn't mean there aren't positive ways to deal with it. If you've found yourself in this situation, here are some steps to take:
- Acknowledge the issues and decide to tackle them: Ignoring the feedback will not make it disappear. You have to realize that there will be detractors of your products or brand, and even negativity can present you with the best opportunity to change and improve.
- Listen to the feedback: It can be all too easy to read negative feedback and just dismiss it as wrong or irrelevant. You have to really listen to what is being said in an objective fashion. Look at it from all sides and get a feel for what the customer wants.
- Don’t go on the offensive/defensive: Of course you want to defend your company against negative allegations; but getting defensive is not the way to go. If a customer has a problem with a product or policy, defending it is not going to solve their problem. Going on the offensive and launching attacks at the customer is not going to work either – that will only make things worse.
- Present solutions: This is what the customer wants – a solution to their problem. Once you have listened to what they have to say, think of ways that you can actually help them – whether it’s to give them a refund, discount, or simply escalate their issue so they can get a quicker resolution. They just want to know that you’re trying to help them.
- Ask for suggestions: I once got a call from a customer service director at Constant Contact after I posted a question in LinkedIn Answers. In the question, I was basically asking for recommendations for email marketing vendors because I was having an issue with Constant Contact. The customer service director found the question, called me, and asked me for suggestions on what I would change to make Constant Contact better. By taking a similar approach with customers, you're involving them and gaining valuable insight into how you can improve.
I recommend regularly monitoring your online reputation and scoping out negative feedback. Many companies have dedicated "brand ambassadors" on staff to manage this task; but most small business owners do not have the resources for this. While you or your marketing manager could handle this, there are reputation monitoring services you could enlist as well, such as Trackur.