Boss Lady

How to turn a negative client into a raving fan

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I recently had an experience with an unhappy customer.  I tried to turn the situation around but the customer wasn’t just unhappy, she was on a rampage. She was posting seriously nasty feedback using fake accounts on various review websites.

Through this experience I’ve learnt some great tips and tricks for handling these types of situations. I’ve also seen the positives that can come from turning the situation around.  

First: don’t freak out

Take a deep breath. In and Out… No doubt you will have built up an incredible business with loyal customers.  At first when you see the feedback it’s completely natural to freak out.  You’ll probably also take what is said as a personal attack.  As business owners we put so much blood, sweat and tears into what we do, that we do take negative criticism personally.  This is completely normal and to be expected, but don’t take any action just yet.  

Identify the type of feedback

The best solution will depend on the type of feedback you receive.  Constructive feedback should be handled differently to someone who is out on the attack.

Straight or constructive feedback

This occurs when there has been an issue with your product or service and someone is giving you factual feedback about what has happened.  This is a great opportunity to improve and turn the situation around.  Even better, someone has pointed out an issue and given an option as a resolution. This is always helpful so welcome it.  

Attacking, Trolling or Spamming

Someone is angry and on a mission to voice their anger.  This type of feedback is obvious to others who read the reviews, as they are so extreme.  Because they are so extreme, these reviews tend to be ignored by the average consumer reading reviews about your product or service.  

Choose a solution

The best solution depends on the type of feedback you have received.  Straight or constructive feedback is an opportunity to turn the situation around.  Value this feedback as it highlights areas in your business that you can improve. Without this feedback it can be difficult to identify these areas. This is a great opportunity to make your business even better than it already is, and to convert a dissatisfied customer into a loyal customer. So thank them for their feedback and look at a way to resolve the situation and turn this customer into a raving fan.

If the feedback is an attack, troll or spam, then you need to take a different approach.

Here is my three-step approach:

1, In your response thank them for their feedback and refer to the number of happy customers you have had over the years and still have today.  

2, In a positive way, show that your business is willing to take feedback onboard (this is more for the people reading the feedback than for the benefit of the attacker).  

3, Finally say that you are sorry to hear about their negative experience and if they wish to contact you to discuss the matter they are more than welcome, and give the business contact details (again this is more for the people reading the feedback).

This approach isn’t designed for the writer of the attack; it is for the readers (and potential customers) of the review/feedback. In my experience the individual will not contact you because they are writing the review out of spite and anger, and if they did want to contact you they already have the details. By following this three-step approach it shows the readers that the majority of your past and present customers are happy, you are open to feedback and you have nothing to hide.

What NOT to do

Do not ignore the feedback.  There is nothing worse for a business than ignoring negative feedback.  This is your opportunity to review what you are doing and identify areas of improvement, and also show others reading the reviews that your business is one of integrity and is open to receiving feedback (even in the case of the attackers).

Does the review site have a “Fair Play Policy”?

If the feedback is an attack, a troll or spam consider the review sites policies.  

Is the feedback using inflammatory descriptors and generalisations?  Was the reviewer a paying customer in the last 12 months?  Is there negative feedback towards a particular employee?  Is the feedback offensive? Are they creating several fake profiles to exaggerate the issue?  These are all things that can be considered under the policy for the particular website in which the negative reviews have been lodged.  

Last — but not least — encourage reviews

Take this as an opportunity to encourage reviews for your current customers.  Sometimes we get so caught up in the day to day running of our business that we forget to encourage all the happy customers to write us reviews.  If you receive a really stinging attack, it is the perfect time to ask all your loyal customers to give you a review and ensure there is a positive that will come out of the situation.  

Receiving your first negative review can be upsetting to any business owner, but it can have a happy ending.  Take this as an opportunity to identify ways to improve, or in the case of attacks/spam/trolls, to really highlight the strength and loyalty of the customers that love what you do.

All businesses are bound to get negative feedback at some stage in their life cycle; this is just the nature of being in business.  When it happens to you, try to see it for the growth and the opportunity it offers.  You’ll start to notice that all challenges bring opportunity.

About Peta Howlett

Peta Howlett is an entrepreneur, business owner, coach and mentor. Peta discovered pole dancing when she was looking to regain the self-confidence she’d lost as a result of both a bad relationship and a soul destroying job in a government bureaucracy. As a national level fitness judge and qualified personal trainer, Peta combines her extensive experience and specialized knowledge with an absolute commitment to transforming the minds and bodies of thousands of ladies as she awakens the potential in each and every individual.

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