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Last Updated On: 22/05/2019

How To Turn Negative Feedback Into Marketing Wins

By The Campus Digital

A customer wrote to you all in caps. You initially took it personally and wanted to react accordingly.

Do -NOT- do it!

Customer service and proper complaints handling are paramount for your reputation and customer loyalty. Actually, they are a great opportunity to win the customer back, create a good reputation and win the trust of other prospects. Actually, you should be thankful.

Averagely 1 out of 25 people will write a complaint. This means that more people are affected but never really bothered. With social media it’s easier than ever to make your complaints visible, so it’s essential to have a good way to deal with these.

Find out why your customer is unhappy and grasp the opportunity to advertise. How?

1. React Immediately

The main reason why unhappy customers turn into angry customers is because the solution is taking too much time. Therefore, you need to respond as fast as you can, with whatever means you have.

Make sure your opening hours and contact information is available and up to date. When using contact forms, set the correct expectation on when their inquiry will be replied.

When you use a phone or email, make sure the line is not too busy or reply to your emails promptly.

2. Maintain A Positive Attitude

When someone is rude, there is really nothing you can win by responding the same way.  On the contrary, it can aggravate the situation, making things much worse.

Take some time and don’t take things personally. Most of the times the customer is not really angry with you, but with an unfulfilled promise.

You might even respond with humour. Ryan Deiss, a well-known figure in digital marketing, rebutted a negative review of Amazon (click on “4 comments”) with humor. Now who looks really bad in this review?

3. Active Listening

The universal rule for complaining: something is supposed to happen, but didn’t or something that wasn’t supposed to happen did.

The fact that this person took the time and effort to ventilate must mean it’s serious enough. Hear what this person has to say. Refrain from immediately countering, but give the opportunity to understand the whole picture first.

 Most of the times the angry customer is more interested in being heard and understood, rather than the actual issue itself. This is key to de-escalate!

What you can say to achieve this:

“I understand your disappointment when the wrong item was shipped, and you found out by the door. This must not have been pleasant for you.”

Or you can summarize the issue:

“From what I have understood is that you made the purchase online and despite having filled out the correct information, we still send the wrong product to you. Did I understand that well enough?”

In 2009 Brand Keys conducted a survey in the US and pizza-delivery company Dominos came out last in taste. They changed their recipe and then encouraged food bloggers and customers to try out to new pizza. Disappointed customers were won back and new customers bought their pizzas.

You don’t have to be perfect, just have the ability to learn and listen to your market.

4. Apologize

In addition to “Thank you” and “Please” your customers also appreciate a “Sorry” and a “We’ll take care of it”. Even the biggest companies make mistakes and make up for it. An amazing PR crisis management campaign from KFC was the “FCK, we’re sorry” campaign.

Take the responsibility but don’t appear to be desperate. Act with self-confidence and professionalism.

Continuing with the previous example, expand your message like this: “I understand your disappointment when the wrong item was shipped, and you found out by the door. This must not have been pleasant for you. We’re terribly sorry for this mishap.”

5. Find A Solution

Some problems are harder to deal with than others. Maybe you cannot solve a particular problem, but you can find something to make up for it.

The quality of your solution or how you make it up will determine whether you defuse the bomb or win back/retain the customer. What loss would you generate not trying to fix the issue?

Another example: Someone ordered something from Amazon for Christmas, which was stolen from his porch. Amazon send a new package for no additional costs and send an apology for what has happened. This was shared widely on social media and Amazon gained popularity and respect world-wide.

6. Keep Control Of The Situation

Negativity is online for almost forever, which could bring in even more angry customers. By cutting the issue short you keep control of the situation. Reply enough so fellow readers see how you handle your business professionally, but ask to go somewhere quite like a private message or phone call.

An upset customer that you win back is usually really good word-to-mouth advertising, because people like to talk and share. Again, you win.

7. Take The Opportunity To Improve

The job doesn’t end with extinguishing the fire. As seen in the third step—active listening—understand what the source of the issue is. Use this new feedback to improve your products and services, as to prevent this from happening, but also to become better in general.

Follow up with a questionnaire that asks them to rate your handling. This way they really understand you want to learn and improve. And at the same time you can receive additional cold feedback, which is often very informative.

Use this feedback to inform your team members or department and I’ll bet they are all keen to learn how to do better next time.

Hopefully, you have learned how to deal with complaints better and use them as an opportunity. The next time a disgruntled customer reaches out to, you can smile and say “Thank you for contacting us” and actually mean it.


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  4. Promoting Yourself Online: 9 Ways To Actually Deliver
  5. The Buying Cycle Explained (And Why You Should Know)


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