4 ways to deal with negative customer feedback you should implement right away 

Unhappy, yet talkative customers are a golden source of information for your business. They desperately want your company to change and build a better experience for them. If they’re dealt with carefully, they can turn into your greatest advocates. 

So how do you make that happen? 

#1: Address the feedback quickly 

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the more efficient your team is in solving the customer’s issue, the more satisfied the customer will be. That’s exactly what was found out in the recent study by Zendesk: a faster response rate correlates with the higher customer satisfaction. It is important to remember, that each customer is unique and their customer experience is unique too. Don’t underestimate the power of human connection and don’t be afraid to be proactive.  

That’s exactly why TourRadar, an online marketplace for travelers to compare and book multi-day tours with ease, prefers calls to online messaging system or email when talking to dissatisfied customers. ”When we know a customer is unhappy, we normally focus on responding to them as quickly and efficiently as possible so that we can find the best solution to their issue, - shares Carly Hulls, Head of Customer Support at TourRadar, - "When a customer is unhappy, we almost always get on the phone to give them a call as we find this is the best way to communicate through a problem. This is because conversations via email or online chat can often be viewed differently on the other side of the screen and being on the phone can clear up miscommunications easier.” 

Now that it’s settled, that you have to address the negative feedback individually and efficiently, let’s move on to the strategic decisions to understand and eliminate negative feedback (check this article to get new tips on how to talk with your unhappy customers). 

#2: Encourage the feedback

According to these statistics, for every customer who complains, there are 26 customers that don’t say anything (and 91% of them will simply leave your brand). That brings up the first thing you should pay attention to: check your response rates and find new ways to improve them

Encourage leaving customer feedback both generally about your brand and also about a single important customer touchpoint. Simply asking "Based on your recent messaging with our customer service, how likely you are to recommend us to your friends and colleagues?” followed by the NPS why-question will help you a lot in getting specific and useful feedback. 

As soon as you find the detractors, reach out. Eliminate the problem as soon as possible: your efficiency and speed play an important role here. 

Understanding and addressing the customer feedback, both negative and positive, is the cornerstone principle for Leadfeeder, a lead generation SaaS platform. "Our Customer Success Team is automatically notified if we get a low NPS score from a client, so they can reach out to investigate it further. Similarly, we learn from the users who give us a high NPS and try to improve our Customer Success functions. Recently, we did series of 1-on-1 in-depth interviews with our customers from different markets to gain insights on the experiences of our customers, - shares Jesse Pärnänen, Director of Business Development at Leadfeeder, - You need to connect with your customers via multiple channels and understand their challenges and needs in order to improve the customer experience. It is important to ask for feedback, listen to your customers and have 1-on-1 calls and chats with your customers as often as possible. This will help the company in the long-term and help you to provide more value for your customers.” 

#3. Dig deep

Understanding why customers are unhappy about your product or service is even more important at scale, than on the individual level. 

Now, that doesn’t require cost-heavy data analysis, but a modern customer feedback analytics tool that can help you in digging deeper into the impact drivers of your detractors. Your dashboard could look like this:  

 
negative_customer_feedback.png
 

From the example above, you can clearly see that most of the customers complain about the technical quality of the product. Talking about the digital services, logging in to the mobile app and the app in general cause the most confusion. 

"For us the negative feedback is an essential part of growth and learning. We dig a bit deeper to understand the root cause of the negative feedback and of course thank the customer for giving direct feedback to us. We want to maximise our learning and the feedback, both positive and negative, is important for growth and learning. If we fail, we normally have a retro meeting: what we did, why we failed and how can we prevent it from happening again.” - says Kalle Tiihonen, Head of Agencies, Nordics at smartly.io, one of the fastest growing startups in Finland. 

#4. Finally, do something about it! 

Analysing customer feedback and doing nothing about it is the greatest sin of customer experience management. Bring the discussion to the table, encourage your company to work towards customer centricity and improve the issues stated by the unhappy customers.  

Dave Dyson, Sr. Customer Service Evangelist at Zendesk, a help desk software with global reputation, shares strategies to prioritise development areas across the organization: "Negative feedback can be about a lot of different things - the product failing to work as designed, the product missing some piece of desired functionality, or human service failures (from the support team or other customer-facing roles).  

In the human-failure cases, it might be due to a structural/policy problem, a training deficiency that applies to that team as a whole, or an individual coaching issue. If it’s a product problem, then there’s the question of how much engineering resources would it take to correct the issue, how many customers are affected, and how great of a business impact does the problem have? Is it worth potentially delaying other development work in order to fix this issue? Negative feedback helps in answering some of these questions.” 

Companies very often forget that the negative customer feedback is also a great asset if treated properly. It helps you to shape your strategy, enlighten the prioritisation discussions and will guide you in the right direction. 

A complaint is not the end of your customer relationship It’s just the beginning. 

Over to you

How do you treat unhappy customers in your company?