Feedback From Clients

One negative online article about your brand can lose you as many as 22% of customers, according to research by marketing firm Moz, indicating the extent to which you should be taking all types of feedback seriously. In one classic team building activity, team members are asked to pass a ball to each other. When one person drops the ball, the person they then pass it to should say, “Thank you for dropping the ball.” The reason behind this exercise is to emphasize the extent to which mistakes can provide a diamond opportunity for changing, sharpening, or improving goals, roles, and procedures in a company. When a client tells you what they think, consider it an opportunity to communicate with your clients and to set up new strategies where necessary.

Exercising Damage Control

Because online feedback can travel so quickly and become viral, the first step should be ‘putting out the fire’. If a client leaves the feedback on a public channel such as Twitter, answer them publicly as well, and try to answer as quickly as possible. Once you begin communicating with an unhappy client (either online or in person), do so with an open mind. Use your body language and tone to show you are not taking their feedback defensively. Try to summarize the main points they are making, and see how each can be addressed. Complaint Base catalogues a comprehensive list of complaints that remain online. Sites such as this are effectively catered towards customers, so you should avoid being one of their mentioned companies by monitoring, and conducting consistent online searches for mentions of your company, and quickly finding a solution the client is happy with.

Creating A Long-Term Strategy

Often, a major complaint from a client will reveal a flaw in procedure or an even deeper part of your organization - such as the roles carried out by staff members, or the goals established for the week, month, or even year. If, for instance, you work in publishing and a client’s advertisement is published in the wrong color or bearing the wrong information, get together with staff and discuss the broad problem. Work together towards a new procedure (or perhaps new roles for willing staff members) to ensure the problem doesn’t occur again. In the above-mentioned example, you might come up with a way for clients to check their ad one last time before going to print, or ask them to hand in their ads in a fully completed state so that staff do not have to convert or alter their material. By taking the emphasis off blame and placing it on the solution, staff can forge ahead while keeping motivation and self-esteem intact.

Look At The Forest, Not The Trees

A study published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology may be useful when it comes to working out an optimal way to bring up negative client feedback with other staff members, or with your employees if you are the boss. In this study, researchers found that teams should speak in broad terms about changes and improvements that are required before getting to specifics. The researchers noted that it is normal for staff to feel defensive when their work is criticized. In order to get past the sense of rejection, teams should think broadly and positively, with a view to embracing change. When staff members feel like it's possible to get over a mistake, they are more likely to work towards change than when the focus is personal and negative.

Client feedback - good or bad - should be viewed as highly prized information because it comes from a place of honesty. In order for your business to stand the test of time, the entire team should know that it is human to err, and that even in long-standing businesses, goals, roles and procedures sometimes need to be changed or improved. By focusing on the solution, taking a ‘big picture’ approach, and really listening to clients, you can work towards converting your company into a well-oiled machine that handles everything - including complaints - with commitment.