How Can Negative Customer Feedback Lead to Better Sales?
Negative feedback is often dreaded, ignored or handled poorly. In reality it offers some of the best opportunities for creating a loyal customer base and strengthening sales.
Complaints are something we usually dread, and when we get one it usually invokes pessimistic thoughts about the value and quality of our business, along with concerns that the unhappy customer might spread their opinion to others. But is that really all there is to negative customer feedback?
There’s Always Room for Improvement
Every business owner is naturally delighted to receive praise from their customers, but from the business development viewpoint there’s not much else to be gained from positive feedback. Negative feedback, on the other hand, offers a goldmine of opportunity, even though it may not leave us with a smile on our face. The true purpose of customer feedback shouldn’t be to reassure us, but to show us how we can improve and grow. That’s the kind of information only negative feedback can provide.
The truth is, nothing is perfect, so we’re better off knowing which issues need to be addressed. In business, ignorance is most certainly not bliss. Most dissatisfied customers will simply vote with their feet and walk away without comment, which is why many businesses that fail to solicit customer feedback are puzzled by dropping sales. Customer complaints are valuable, tangible data that can be analyzed, and can illuminate important issues in need of fixing. If you don’t get any negative comments, you should be looking harder.
Trust is Earned
Constructive criticism will not only pinpoint your weak spots, but also build trust with customers and show them their opinion is valuable to you. Making the angry customer a partner in validating the solution will not only invest your business with an improved product or protocol, but can turn your worst detractors into brand ambassador. Maintaining an open dialogue is perhaps one of the best ways to inspire loyalty and ensure client retention.
Besides, a 100% success rate is unlikely in any walk of life. Consumers can be wary of a company with a too-glossy review rate: it can raise suspicions of rigging and censorship. No-one expects a product or service to the absolutely flawless in every way, and people feel more reassured prior to purchase if they can measure up the pros and cons of an offering. A healthy dose of negative opinions will help build trust and give you credibility.
Sometimes, Any Feedback Is Good
On a more technical note, it’s worth being aware that not only positive, but also negative reviews could help promote your business online. Because search engines, such as Google, take into account how many times your name is mentioned in customer reviews, you’ll be more likely to rank higher in search results then businesses that are mentioned less often. Several negative comments won’t really damage your reputation, but they’ll help promote your business just as much as the positive ones.
How to Respond?
The worst thing you can do is react defensively, as if the customer’s complaint were a personal attack. Carefully analyze the information with which you are presented and approach the issue in an impartial, objective way. Every once in a while a customer may leave a negative review not based on their experience with your product or business, but for fun or some other irrelevant reason. If you judge a review to be one of those, simply ignore it. But what about genuine customer reviews? When responding to such a complaint it’s best to stay objective, and if your company is indeed at fault, fix the problem and get back to the customer. This way other potential clients will see you in a positive light instead of being put off. A nice touch would be to check in on the customer in a week or two and see if they are still satisfied, or need additional assistance. There’s no better way to show your customers that you value their opinion and are doing everything you can to ensure they have a positive experience.
Being mindful of the fact that negative feedback often leads to positive results is just as important for business as regular working hours - they help keep customers happy and the business going. Nothing raises your awareness more when it comes to knowing what’s wrong, whether it has to do with your product, your employees or the way your company functions internally. Since people who voice their concerns are the tip of the iceberg of the silent majority who simply walk away, embracing any negative feedback is a huge step towards increasing your sales.
Tags: Customer Feedback