Handling negative feedback

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Customer complaints are an inevitable part of running a business. How you handle negative feedback can help or hinder retaining existing customers. Complaints can be a great learning tool for businesses looking to improve their services, products, customer satisfaction and overall competitive edge.

Poorly handled complaints can see customers withdraw their business and encourage others to do so. When businesses take the time to listen and genuinely fix an issue, customers see value in the services they provide. Here are four tips to deal with complaints effectively:

Actively listen:
When an issue is presented, apologise promptly for the matter and don’t blame others. Be sure to thank the customer for raising the complaint and listen intently, asking questions and repeating back what they have said can help to demonstrate this.

Focus on solutions:
Discussing different options for working through the issue with the customer can help as it shows commitment to fixing their problem. Clarify what their desired outcome is and negotiate solutions that meet both parties’ needs.

Follow-up:
Communicating results with customers is a good practice to ensure they are satisfied with the progress or outcome and the way the complaint was handled. When businesses make any changes that are customer-based, it is important to keep customers who were part of the feedback process updated. This encourages customers to continue giving their input if they know they are being heard and are responsible for any positive changes. A business may want to ask for follow-up feedback, once customers have experienced the improvements, to gain more insight into what their customers want from them.

Have a dedicated staff member:
Assigning one staff member to manage complaints and responses can help processes to be thorough and consistent. By having a customer service role, with the appropriate training and skills to manage complaints, you also protect the business and the rest of the team who may not be as well equipped to handle negative feedback.

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