From one business owner to another, let’s start this blog with real talk—how to handle negative feedback. Sometimes the customer isn’t always right. More often than not, it doesn’t matter if they are right or wrong. What matters is how you deal with the situation and the customer. Word of mouth travels fast, which can cause you to lose customers just as quickly. Handling circumstances can make the difference between business growth or decline. How do we deal with customer complaints?

Negative feedback is the last thing a business and a brand want to deal with. Customer complaints, bad reviews or even a sour word-of-mouth can be detrimental to one’s reputation. One 1-star Google review could bring a 5.0 rating down two whole points. It happens to the best businesses out there. If you are a victim yourself, don’t worry. From this point forward, be sure to handle your customers in the most professional way possible.

The first step is to let your customer know you’re open to hearing their side of the story. Let them vent and know they are heard. A common mistake is to let customers vent their frustrations only to be ready to respond immediately with a counter argument. Don’t have something ready to fire back as soon as they’re finished talking. Listen to them and let them be heard … then respond with a sincere apology. Take charge and follow that apology up with a solution.

Next, follow up again. Be sure to regularly talk with your customer. Ask for feedback, especially after an incident takes place. Depending on your business or products, be sure to offer incentives to those who have had less than positive experiences. Keep those customers who are on the fence happy and they will continue buying from you. They will see you are making the effort and are worth your salt in business.

Your Prospect And Your Customer Is Always Right!

After all, the service is in the details. One of our radio show hosts reinvented his podcast show by titling it Value Added Leadership. Listen to some episodes as he ramps back up into a weekly schedule.

Even when a customer is clearly wrong, in the public eye, they are right. This tried-and-true statement still holds water in today’s day and age. Everything we do online is accessible by millions of people. Keep that in mind when you are posting messages about your brand and handling feedback both positive and negative. If the apology or incident takes place publicly, handle with extreme care.

If you are running a one-man operation, treat it like you have a staff to handle customer service. A good rule of thumb is to separate email addresses for the different “departments” of your business. It’s okay to “hide” behind a generic email. A few examples would be “contact@” or “team@” or better yet, “customerservice@” followed by your domain. (Even my in-house teams use both info and support emails. They check them regularly so more eyes are on the inboxes throughout the day).

Give the impression that you don’t handle every issue that comes to you, even though you may be. If and when your customers really get under your skin, your first course of action should be to … *drum roll* … do nothing. Do nothing in the sense that you cool yourself off. When you’re in the right mind, then you should respond in a professional manner. If it’s your fault, sincerely apologize. If it’s not your fault, find a way to sympathize. Or at the very least, empathize with your customer.

Emotional intelligence goes a long way, especially when it comes to the life blood of your business. All of us on the Erik Remmel brand team and the Life Improvement Media Group team have encountered instances whereby paying attention to the details, a business owner could have saved him or herself customers. By letting things linger too long, it only made things worse. This has shown up in Facebook posts, Yelp reviews as well as Google reviews.

Yelp, Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor, GlassDoor And More…

Two weeks from now, I’ll be discussing how agencies charge for social media management. In this blog about negative feedback, it’s very appropriate to include the types of social media people do not focus on regularly. These include reviewing platforms such as YelpUrbanspoonTripAdvisorGlassDoorFoursquare and OpenTable. Whether it’s a veterinarian or a dinner restaurant to bring a date, people do in fact look at reviews. People will look at reviews and the business website, or the business website and then the reviews. Either way, they will put their eyes on both before making a final decision. Make sure both are clean, professional and handled with care.

Thank you for your attention!

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