responding to negative feedback

Signpost automatically collects feedback from your customers–everything from glowing praise to the occasional complaint. And while it’s never fun to hear that a customer had a bad experience with your business, even the best companies in the world have a critic or two. Fortunately, there are tried and true strategies for re-engaging or at least pacifying an unhappy customer.

First: Apologize

The best way to defuse their anger is by showing your willingness to accept responsibility. It doesn’t matter whether you think you’ve been judged unfairly. When it comes to customer service, the customer is always right. If you’re replying to the customer over email, lead with a line like: “We’re very sorry to hear that you had a bad experience.”

Next: Find Out What Went Wrong

Maybe one of your employees had a bad day. Or, maybe the customer had unrealistic expectations and their complaint says more about them than it says about the quality of your service. Whatever the case, you should ask the customer for details so you can determine whether it is a larger issue that requires your attention. More importantly, the customer will appreciate being listened to, which can go a long way towards repairing their opinion of your business.

Last: Offer a Credit or Discount as a Token of Goodwill

After apologizing and exploring the source of their complaint, you may decide to offer them 5% off their next purchase, a $10 credit, or another form of encouragement to work with you again. The idea is to demonstrate that your interest in retaining them as a customer is sincere. Remember that saving a customer is worth much more than his or her next purchase. By softening their anger, you are reducing the chances of them writing negative reviews online and discouraging their friends from doing business with you. These are real costs that must be taken into account as you weigh your response.

Sample Emails:

Here is a sample email you can send to customers who submit negative feedback:

“Dear {Customer},

We’re very sorry to hear that you had a bad experience at {Your business}. It’s our goal to deliver the highest quality of service to all of our customers so we’d love to learn a little bit more about what prompted your feedback. We’d also like to offer you a {credit or discount} as a small token of thanks for being a customer and for sharing your thoughts with us. We look forward to speaking with you.

Sincerely,

{Your Name}”

Here is a sample message you can post in response to a customer who submits a negative review on Yelp, Facebook, or Google+:

“Dear {Customer},

I’m very sorry to hear about your experience and it’s our goal to make sure every customer receives the best possible service. We’d love to make this up to you. We’ll message you privately to get additional feedback, and I can assure you we’ll do everything we can to resolve the matter.

Sincerely,

{Your Name}”