An irate call
An angry, shrill, and high-pitched voice was all that I can hear when I picked up the call. First irate caller of the day it would seem and it’s just 9:00 AM. Her words inaudible. Overcome by the feelings of hatred and disappointment she decided to vomit all the curses and parental problems that she is experiencing. It was as if the root of all bad luck and evil was on the other side of the phone and she is exorcising the demon that is making everything inconvenient for her. I let her finish her tirade as interrupting her would just make it longer. I have had enough of my fair share of these calls. With a calm and cool voice, full of understanding and warmth of a mother’s hug, I repeat what she said word per word excluding all the swears and the attitude, to let her know that she was heard. I acknowledge her complaint and sincerely apologize for the experience she had to go through. After we offer compensation either with a replacement, discounts, or exclusive offers. We log everything about the complaint, we then assure the customer that her complaint was recorded and that the company is doing everything to resolve the issue. But as I look at the long log of complaints, we have been telling the same script to our customers for a year. And based on the sales reports it seems the customers are catching on. Why are we not working on the customer’s feedback?
What is feedback?
Feedback is any form of information that provides an appraisal or level of satisfaction about a product, service, or performance. It can be in the form of a comment, a complaint, a review, survey, rating, and so many more. These days it can even be in the form of social media posts. Customers can go online and tell everyone of the experience they had from any company. If not handled well, posts like this can become viral and can be a nightmare for most companies. Feedback is not necessarily just comments and complaints. Good reviews and comments are also considered as feedback especially if an extraordinary experience left an impact to the customer. This can be further leveraged and used as content for further marketing. Feedback both positive and negative are tools to improve and leverage your company towards success. The key here is to be open to it and know how to use it.
Kinds of feedback:
Praise, good review posts, and as of recent years, likes. Positive feedback is any kind of information that tells the company what it is doing well. Usually people find it easy to fault and give bad feedback so getting positive feedback is sometime rare. Especially in the age of social media, people who really had an awesome experience will find time to let other people know so that they can experience the same service.
Opposite Positive Feedback is Negative Feedback. Any information that provides the points for improvement of a service and that the experience of the customer. This is the more common type of feedback that businesses get. Most people just tend to focus on faults rather than the overall picture. But even if it the most common, it is also one of the most useful as addressing the actual point for improvement will have the most impact to the service. Note that I mentioned actual point for improvement, as sometimes negative feedback is hidden as subjective opinion. For example, you can get a review that a paint brush, which is color red, would be better color green. But if you look into it the reason is that the customer was actually color blind and changing the product color will help see it better. You then have information that you have a market of color-blind customers which you can then leverage for marketing or product testing.
Why do we feel bad/sad about feedback?
Feedback, especially negative feedback is a form of appraisal or judgement. It means our company or product was put under a magnifying glass thus faults and bad practices may be highlighted and any business owner doesn’t want to hear that the company they are working hard on is not up to standard.
The other possible cause is that negative feedback tends to be emotional. Hate and disappointment are two of the most powerful and affective negative emotions and having that emotion directed towards you, your employees, or your company may surely make you question your worth and your motivations. If one is not emotionally stable, they may get emotional as well and react with the same hate, which is the worst way to respond to feedback.
The key to this is before getting information about feedback you should be emotionally prepared with what may appear. This way your emotions are kept in check and you won’t easily get affected. However, if you are someone who can still get emotionally hang up. Then before doing any response to the feedback spend some time to stabilize your emotions first and make sure to have someone check your response.
How to use feedback?
Share the good vibes, find time to announce it to everyone. Not just to managers but every single person should know about the good things people are saying about the product and company. They will find a sense of pride in this and raise morale. Acknowledge employees who did exceptional work and was the main reason for the positive feedback.
2. Content Marketing
Authentic stories, anecdotes from actual customers, these are the kinds of reviews that people want to read and refer to because it gives a sense of truth and reality. Getting positive reviews and highlighting them for your marketing strategy is one of the best ways to leverage feedback. You can further develop this into an actual content if the customers are willing to provide more details for the story.
To make sure that the positive review sticks to your brand you have to make sure that the quality experienced by the customer is consistent in every level of the customer experience. Standardize the quality and manualize it if possible. Make sure your employees have the same understanding and wants to give the same quality of service.
1. Keep an Open Mind
When handling negative feedback, you have to be open-minded. You have to accept that the company is not perfect and that there are ways that it can still improve. Keeping an open-mind will make the feedback a learning experience.
2. Identify Actionable Points
Negative feedback may be emotional at times but over the layers of drama, tears, and anger are actionable points. These are the major points of the feedback that we can fix. We can’t change how the customer already felt but we can change what future customers will feel.
3. Respond not React
Lastly, is to respond, do not let emotions take over you and react. Make an appropriate response to your customer. Remember your company was the reason for the negative experience. Handling this well will also be part of your brand and can turn a negative feedback into a positive one.
Circle of Influence
Last thing to be aware of when handling feedback, there are factors that are within our control and those that are not. We should focus only on what we can control so that we can improve our business. We cannot control how our customers feel but we can control what kind of experience they can have.
Any kind of feedback is a good thing because it means we are active in our service and people care enough to let us know what can be improved. It all depends on how we take in the feedback, how we respond, and how we improve our service.