Whether we like or not, negative feedback is inevitable when you’re in business. Customers don’t always like the service you’ve provided and in 2020, they’re happy to make this public knowledge as soon as possible. Take a look on TripAdvisor, Amazon, eBay and any other ecommerce platform and you’ll be able to see what we mean. The way businesses deal with negative feedback is absolutely critical to their success. Those that manage complaints properly enjoy a well-earned reputation for quality and customer service, whereas those who do not are likely to risk losing business over time. Here’s Probella’s guide on how to deal with negative feedback in digital marketing in 2020.
Ensure the Customer Understands What You Are Offering
Our first tip is a piece of pre-emptive advice that can dramatically reduce the number of complaints you are likely to receive from customers in the long run. One of the main problems that leads to regular complaints, is a lack of clarity in terms of the product or service your customer can expect to enjoy. Ensure that you describe what you are providing in a clear, unambiguous way that is free from oblique or confusing language. Many complaints are made when customers feel as if they have been provided with less than they expected or a different experience to the one they signed up for. There are several ways you can stop this happening. User agreements act like legal contracts and are now commonplace for digital services such as streaming, software and video services. Most users don’t generally read every word, but if you have an accurate description of the terms and conditions your customers are agreeing to when they sign up to use your service, any complaints about being mis selling or misrepresentation can be dealt with swiftly and easily. Customer service teams can also be trained to clarify exactly what the consumer is paying for at the point of sale. This means both you and your customers fully understand the transaction taking place.
Empathise and Take People Seriously
As chatbots and automated phone lines are now the norm when it comes to customer service, the human element can be one of the most effective ways of calming a potentially explosive situation. When customers have contacted you to complain, the chances are they are feeling angry or upset. These feelings are often exacerbated by having to navigate through multiple A.I based systems, many of which feel impersonal and very confusing. Before you offer to resolve the situation, make sure that you or your customer service agents listen carefully to what is being explained, then respond in a genuinely human way. Something as simple as “I’m sorry to hear that. I will do everything I can to help.” Can be enough to calm things down so that you can find a resolution. If you simply quote the terms and conditions or show no emotion at all, you can practically guarantee a strongly worded, extremely negative review.
Social Media Damage Control
The double-edged sword of social media isn’t going away any time soon and any business owner will be well aware of how damaging an angry customer can be in terms of reputation. When addressing complaints and negative feedback on Facebook or Twitter, make sure your tone is always professional and do everything you can to take the conversation off your public timeline. Respond to complaints graciously and make it as clear as possible that you are working to address the problem. Never ignore negative reviews on social media, even if they aren’t true. Providing you are very careful with your wording, it should be possible to explain the situation in a way that makes you look professional, without admitting fault or letting any deliberate trolls cause problems for you.
Discounts, Gifts and Compensation
If any of your customers feel as if they have missed out on something they have paid for, it is your responsibility to reimburse them so that you can redress the balance. For large companies, gift vouchers have become the equivalent of “store credit” and can be a quick, simple and cost-effective way of offering compensation to those who may be unsatisfied or let down by what you have provided. Many internet service providers and telecommunications companies offer significant discounts to customers who have experienced persistent interruptions in service or other problems. This is effective for two reasons. The customer feels as if they have saved a little money and been compensated for their experience and the company still retains the business. Smaller organisations may not be able to offer this kind of service but as an alternative, measures such as partial refunds, reduced or waived shipping costs and significant discounts on further purchases can be employed if necessary.
Know When to Stand Your Ground
The vast majority of customers are honest, decent people who will only complain if they genuinely feel they have received poor quality service. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and there are some instances where troublemakers will try to trick customer service agents in to believing they have experienced problems, just for the sake of getting a freebie. Identifying this fraudulent and unethical behaviour is essential and though you need to be sure before you take this approach, demonstrating that you won’t be taken advantage of is as important as showing off your customer service skills. If a customer is being persistently difficult and trying to create problems for you unduly, explain that this behaviour cannot be tolerated and that you can no longer offer them any more help. If they continue to post offensive comments or to make claims that are not true, report this behaviour to social media moderators who will ensure they’re dealt with appropriately. Thankfully, this kind of situation is rare, but when it does happen, it can be very damaging for businesses.