Negative feedback hurts. Despite a great track record of service, it’s inevitable that at some point, an unhappy customer will share a poor experience with your business. You can’t control what people say about you but you can control how you respond.

Today we offer practical tips for making it right (sign-up for our free UpCity Daily Tips newsletter to learn more about controlling and improving your reputation).

Start with Team Training

One of the most important things for managing your reputation is to have a standard policy in place that all team members must follow. Train staff in the art of customer service. They are representatives of your company, they need to respond how YOU want them respond. Have clear guidelines for each of these situations…

  1. Written Complaints

    A person that takes the time to find an email or physical address then writes a note to lodge a complaint, is not acting on the spur of the moment. They want to be heard and know that you actually received their communication.

      Try to reach them by phone. Actually calling a person is a powerful way to show that you take responsibility for the situation and not looking for an easy way out.

      Follow-up with a written apology and peace offering. Send along a coupon voucher or discount for the next time they use your service. If the situation warrants it, refund their money without them having to ask.

  2. Phone Complaints

    We’ve all been there. Gotten or given an earful on the phone because of frustration.

      Let them talk. They want to be heard and feel better about letting their frustrations out.

      Keep calm and let them know you feel badly. Begin your portion of the conversation with a simple “I’m sorry you feel that way, I’d like to make this right.” Immediately they know you are on their side and not looking to fight.

  3. In Person

    A customer in your store begins to verbally express their anger about service. This is bad (and embarrassing) for other customers and equally uncomfortable for the employee on the receiving end.

      Your employee should immediately apologize for the misunderstanding (even if they don’t think they were wrong). They should say they want to remedy the situation. Give them the EXACT words to use so they aren’t trying to figure it out in the heat of the moment.

      Empower the employee to remedy the situation on their own. Allow them to refund money up to a certain amount without asking. If a manager needs to be called, be sure someone is always available. Be sure they know you must be notified of the incident so you can provide further follow-up if necessary.

  4. Social Media Reviews

    This is the tough one because once a bad review is out there, it’s pretty much there to stay. It’s your responsibility to ‘listen’ to what’s being said online and respond accordingly if you can.

      Try to respond to the customer. Twitter and others allow you to reply, blogs allow comments. Maybe look in your data base for contact information if you know the person. If you can find to reach them, make it clear you want to make the situation right.

      Focus on fixing the problem. Even if you can’t reach them, have an open mind about the complaint and work to remedy the situation so it doesn’t happen again. Then post your own comments on how you have done that.

It’s human nature to get defensive and want to tell our side of the story. However, the old adage ‘the customer is always right’ has never been more true than it is today. If you can be open to feedback, you have the opportunity to turn someone that’s unhappy into an advocate. And that should always be the goal.