negative feedback equals opportunity

Why negative feedback equals opportunity

We’d all like to imagine every customer held us in high regard, that five-star ratings were always forthcoming, and that no-one ever had gripes about our service, our products or their experience with our brand.

Of course, that’s not how reality shapes up. As good as your business might be, negative feedback happens. But it’s what you do with it that counts…

Here’s why negative feedback equals opportunity and how you can turn that feedback around.

The greatest source of learning

Microsoft founder Bill Gates once famously noted: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”.

And there’s truth in that remark. While positive feedback is welcome, it’s the negative variety that gives you an insight into potential improvement.

That’s where the real opportunity lies; in the ability to address problems, to review systems, to revise products, and to reimagine the customer experience.

So how exactly should you handle negative feedback and what do you do with it?

It’s business

Negative feedback is part of business and it’s not something that should be reacted to with emotion, regardless of how that feedback might have been framed by the customer.

Instead, it’s about breaking it down, looking at its value, and examining whether there’s a trend emerging.

Part of this assessment of the feedback will involve asking whether it’s an unfortunate aberration, as in a customer having a bad day, or whether there’s a kernel of truth in there that you as a business need to act on.

Then and only then can you begin to address it.

It’s about the response

The art of addressing negative feedback is in the response, and a major part of that is acknowledging how the customer feels.

Then, it’s about considering whether action needs to be taken, and if so what that action will be.

In some cases that will involve taking responsibility, apologising to the customer and seeking to find a solution that makes them happy. In others it will just involve acknowledging the experience failed to live up to their expectation.

What could have been done differently?

“Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong,” – Donald Porter

An apology or to the customer means nothing if the situation is likely to occur again.

After you’ve determined the true cause of the negative feedback, it’s about seeking insight into what could have been done differently.

This involves considering the matter at both a management level and with your staff. Essentially it answers the question ‘what should have happened, but didn’t, and why was that the case?’

The answer to this determines what will ideally happen should a similar situation arises again.

Does this change need to be more widely adopted within your business?

Next it’s about considering whether this change needs to be more widely adopted within your business.

Should it be implemented in the form of a new system or procedure that staff can then rely on in order to better accommodate the desired customer experience?

This is a particularly important consideration if there’s a trend or pattern emerging in terms of what the negative feedback relates to.

You don’t know unless you ask

Although negative feedback can be hard to palate, it’s important to the growth and improvement of your business.

And the reality is, you won’t know where your business weaknesses lie, unless you take the time to ask your customers how they feel about your products and services.

To learn more about our simple and easy way to seek feedback using ExpressPods, see here.