How to handle customer feedback

Your customers can be your best advocates and their happiness is one of the markers of success. Here are the top do's and don’ts when it comes to managing customer feedback.

When the customer isn't happy - eight key actions

1. Listen

Completely hear or read what the customer has to say. Never be defensive, even if the customer is incorrect.

2. If you can, take a breather

Cool heads prevail. Take a moment to calm your mind and collect your thoughts.

3. Acknowledge

Take ownership. Don’t shift blame. Let them know you’ve heard them. 78% of consumers have abandoned a transaction or purchase because of a poor service experience. (Source: American Express survey 2011.)

4. Gain clarity

Get all the details you can and validate them later.

5. Create solutions

Hear what the customer is saying they want. Consider what you can offer to rectify the situation and add value.

6. Deliver solutions quickly

Issues can escalate if a customer feels ignored. Make sure you deliver what was agreed upon so you don’t exacerbate the problem. It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience. (Source: Understanding Customers by Ruby Newell-Legner.

7. Follow up

Talk to the customer about how you’ve changed things to do better in the future. Make sure they’re satisfied with your solution. 91% of unhappy customers won’t willingly do business with you again. Sort out a complaint in their favour and they will do business with you again 70% of the time. 

8. Keep records

Log not just the problem, but the resolution – so you can refer to it if needed.


Customer contact: The ultimate 'do's'

Be human

“People are not looking for perfection online. What they’re really looking for is humanity and a genuine response, so a negative review can be a great opportunity to respond in a positive and transparent manner. And that has a good impact on all your customers,” says Shama Kabani, author, The Zen of Social Media Marketing to Forbes

Create clarity in your team

Create a complaint handling procedure and ensure everyone is familiar with it. Take a look at our customer service policy infographic below and share it with your team or use it yourself for clarity.

Encourage customer feedback

  • Clearly advise customers where they can share their feedback – good or bad

  • Make sure they know they can report issues to you at any time

  • Acknowledge all feedback – even a ‘like’ on social media shows someone’s been heard and creates a culture.

  • Don’t be scared to hear what customers have to say – they’re your most valuable asset after all and can help you tweak, grow, develop and deliver.

Harness the happy moments too!

What are you consistently acknowledged for? Is there a team member who regularly gets great feedback? Acknowledging and celebrating positive results will help give your business direction.

Work on a great all-around experience

Trip Advisor recommends that "For online results, focus on offline service." Do everything you can to deliver a superior customer experience. (Source: TripAdvisor)

Customer contact: The ultimate 'dont's'

Don’t put in writing anything you don’t want quoted back

Consider where and how something can be shared before you fire off an email response or social media reply.

Don’t try to cover things up

Silencing an angry customer or worse, ignoring them can make them louder in an attempt to be heard. Reply – and use it as a chance to show what your business is all about.

Don't avoid the customer

Be genuine. Pick up the phone, talk face-to-face and be a normal person in your responses, not like someone quoting from a manual.

Never hide negative reviews

Use the negative review to share some of your positives or demonstrate that you are committed to ensuring customer satisfaction. You can also embrace a negative review as an opportunity to tweak or change your service – and share that too!

Don’t offer incentives for reviews

Incentivised reviews are removed from the platform and can affect your TripAdvisor ranking. Instead of pushing customers online, make the most of your time with them to ask for feedback directly.

Don't take it personally...

...Even if it is. Stick to the facts and don't engage in debates.

How to effectively say sorry

The power of an apology

Saying sorry can immediately take the heat out of a situation.

Authenticity is key

TripAdvisor says, “Be authentic and determined, and the guests – and their reviews – will come.” (Source: TripAdvisor)

Lost cause?

If you know there’s nothing that can be done, acknowledge the issue, stay classy, and move forward.

Your response says it all

Future customers reading online reviews have no context or backstory to give them perspective. They'll just see how you handled a complaint or compliment – so be clear and professional.


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