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Death, Taxes, and Negative Customer Feedback

You’ve probably heard some version of Benjamin Franklin’s famous words, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” I propose an addendum to this list: negative customer feedback.

As much as we’d like to please every customer all of the time, it’s just not a realistic expectation. Negative feedback is inevitable. And that’s a good thing.

Every time a customer leaves negative feedback, they’re providing your brand with an opportunity to improve the customer experience and potentially earn their business for life. Brands that adopt this positive outlook on customer feedback will find success. Brands that do not will likely find themselves in a costly uphill battle with customer loyalty.

Cultivating lasting relationships with your customers can be a daunting proposition, but it’s a practice that your brand would be remiss not to do. Here are four tips for converting brand detractors into brand advocates:

1. Listen & Respond Publicly

Take time to listen to and understand negative customer reviews. Once you have a grasp of the issue at hand, respond publicly so the customer—and other customers—know that you are taking the issue seriously and making an effort to right the wrong. Customers value transparency.

2. Address Negative Comments Quickly

Time really is money when it comes to customer retention. Don’t let a customer issue fester. Resolve the problem as quickly as possible, “wow” the customer, and create a potential brand advocate for life.

3. Rectify the Situation (Even if It’s Not Your Fault)

Identify the type of customer you’re dealing with and interact with them accordingly. The customer is not always right, but by offering a sincere apology and reaching an amicable solution to the problem, your brand can win back at-risk customers.

4. Follow Up

See the resolution of the customer’s negative experience all the way to completion. Thank the customer for their feedback and ensure that they leave—and return—completely satisfied with your brand.

As much as it can feel like negative feedback is all your customers leave, the situation is not that bleak. In reality, customers are mostly positive in their brand sentiment. One study found that customers share positive brand experiences eight times more often than they do negative experiences.

Negative feedback can be a valuable resource for brands working toward delivering a greater customer experience. It’s less fatal than death, and it’s generally cheaper than taxes.

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