No one is perfect and no business can exist without getting some negative feedback from time to time. However, in times where digital markets are highly competitive and the cost of living crisis creates feelings of financial precarity, getting a negative review is not just disappointing, but can feel like a threat to your livelihood.
It can be hard to take criticism at the best of times, even when it is constructive. In this article, we consider ways to reframe negative feedback so it doesn’t get in the way of your business’s growth. These strategies for getting the most out of bad reviews show ways of becoming more resilient as a business owner.
It’s unrealistic to expect that no one will have a negative experience with the product or service you provide. Whether it’s delivery problems or technical glitches with your website, no business is an island: there will be many aspects that you cannot control, including the customer’s expectations or feelings.
It may be tempting to simply bury your head in the sand and avoid or hide from negative feedback. But doing this means you’ll be missing out on some invaluable information. Feedback provides valuable data for your business’ success, whether it is good or bad.
You cannot prevent them, but you can prepare to receive negative feedback and reviews by considering how to frame them in a way that will inform your strategy going forward.
The first step in making use of negative feedback is to sit down and read it carefully with an eye to where it may help you. Because feedback can come from many places, it can be overwhelming at first. Using tools like Resolver Pro or a CRM tool can help you manage your complaints in one platform, making it easier for you to do.
Try to come to the negative feedback and reviews when you are in a good place so you can better take them into consideration. Rather than the occasional scroll through your emails and socials, incorporate reading them into regular brainstorming sessions when you work on strategies for improving your business.
When you make negative feedback part of planning and development sessions, you’ll be able to step back and not take it as personal criticism. By framing it as a business tool, containing its personal impact and focusing on how it can be constructive, you will neutralise the negativity.
Building reports based on the feedback will help you identify areas of improvement and make it easier to improve your product or services.
Not only can you prepare for negative feedback but you can actually invite and welcome it. This may sound counter-intuitive, but by prompting your customers to let you know if or when something goes wrong you’ll already be shaping the nature of that conversation.
Part of being open to negative comments, rather than defensive, means confronting your own limitations in perceiving where things aren’t working in your own business. So when trying to get something useful out of a negative review, start by asking yourself whether you expected it or not.
Maybe the issue the customer had is something that had already been on your mind as a potential weakness or an area in need of rethinking or refinement. Or perhaps it’s something you never even considered and opens your eyes to new aspects of the product or service you provide, or the customer base you are trying to appeal to.
As well as looking for any blindspots it reveals, try and find some concrete ways that the reviewer suggests for improving your business practice. If that isn’t clear you could always get back in touch and ask them.
Also, because you’re dealing with human beings and you never know what the person complaining is struggling with at the time, keeping your cool will help defuse most situations and lead to a successful resolution.
Whether it’s explaining why something happened or simply thanking someone for taking the time they took to let you know how you did, replying to negative comments is a good way to show other potential customers that you are open to feedback and constantly looking for ways to improve.
You don’t need to get into a back and forth tit-for-tat, wrong-or-right debates. You can be gracious and even grateful for the kind of insight you are being offered. It may not be possible with every customer, but many are likely to feel warmly towards you and your business if you make them feel seen, heard, and that you have taken on board and responded to what they have reported.
It’s a mistake to think that customers will not return after a bad experience – in fact, a number of studies have shown that brand loyalty is bound-up in making it easy for customers to report any issues, resolve their problems, and thus show that you are open to improvement.
They say that it takes five compliments to undo just one criticism. As a business owner, you are going to have this negative bias but will need ways to counteract it to maintain a clear view of your business, its strengths, and areas for improvement.
Remember that the impact of a negative comment is always going to feel difficult. But don’t let that put you off engaging with them. Keep a document with your best or favourite customer feedback, so if you feel low, anxious, or unsure of yourself you can give yourself a boost and remind yourself of where you’re getting it right.
When you frame negative feedback or reviews as constructive criticism they become invaluable to your business. This is more in line with what research shows about customer loyalty – that this is created when companies solve consumers problems quickly and easily. In other words, rather than trying to exceed customer expectations, and potentially waste time, effort and costly giveaways, try and meet them. To do this you must make it easy for your customers to let you know what they are.
At Resolver we know that what is most important to customers is that they feel like they have a voice and are able to be heard when they have experienced a problem. We believe that the best business strategy is not about completely eliminating problems but creating fantastic solutions and resolutions that gives companies an edge.
We had this in mind when we designed Resolver Pro – our tool for businesses big and small who want to improve the customer service experience they offer.
Resolver Pro brings customer service onto one platform: removing any obstacles that may stop customers getting in touch, as well as those that make it hard for business owners to respond efficiently and effectively to their clients.
So if you are looking to improve your brand with easy, transparent and responsive customer service practices, check out what we offer for businesses and see if Resolver Pro could be the right tool for you.
If you have any thoughts on this topic, or any other business or consumer issues you would like us to cover, feel free to get in touch with us at email@example.com