How to deal with less positive feedback

Last month, ‘The Happy Client’ warned you about falling into the complacency trap where you think everything’s okay with the service you provide just because you haven’t heard otherwise.

So, in the event that you find yourself receiving less than positive feedback, whether it’s on a public forum or via your client listening, what should you do?

Let’s look at a few scenarios:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

1) Someone is being mischievous (or even malicious) and leaves a review despite never having engaged your business.

– Highly annoying but it happens. Most independent review sites won’t allow you to remove it unless you can prove it will cause serious harm to your reputation. Use the response option and leave a calm but firm comment explaining that this person has never been a client. Prospects who look at your reviews will see this is an anomaly and are highly likely to disregard it.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

2) A client is disgruntled at the advice you have given them, or has been making unreasonable demands which you have (rightly) been managing.

— Respond along the lines of the first scenario – calmly but firmly explaining how important it is to you to stick to your ethics. Prospects will then be able to see the complainant is being unreasonable. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

3) The review or feedback is from a genuine client but has come totally out of the blue – you had no idea they weren’t happy.

— Take a deep breath and don’t panic. Remove emotion from the situation. Of course it feels personal, particularly if it’s about your business, but recognise that’s it’s important to see something like this as an opportunity to learn and improve. In all likelihood, the feedback is probably not going to be about YOU as a person but about a process or system which can easily be tweaked to be more efficient or effective.

If your immediate reaction is one of anger or disbelief, don’t fire off an email or pick up the phone straight away. Wait (without leaving it too long) until you’ve calmed down. Call the client so you can better understand where they’re coming from and listen to what they have to say (without interrupting or being defensive). Let them know that you’ll be looking into what’s happened and give them a timescale within which you’ll report back. Make the necessary changes and, if it’s a public review, leave a response on the review site giving some detail on how the issue has been dealt with. This demonstrates integrity and a willingness to rectify issues quickly. ⠀⠀

Asking for feedback from your clients (or anyone for that matter!) is an act of bravery. You’re putting yourself ‘out there’ and that in itself can feel uncomfortable. Remind yourself that you’re asking for feedback because you want to make sure you’re always offering the best service, and because you want to learn and continuously improve.

As the saying goes ‘all feedback is a gift’. You don’t need to resolve issues immediately but you do need to assure your clients you’re addressing them. There’s no point in asking for feedback if you’re not going to act on it – that’s a waste of everyone’s time!

Remember no-one is perfect and although it puts you out of your comfort zone, receiving and dealing with constructive feedback demonstrates integrity and a willingness to improve – something all clients want and appreciate from their suppliers!⠀

If you’d like support with dealing with feedback, or to get started with gathering client insight, please do get in touch.

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