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customer criticism

The Hidden Value of Customer Criticism

Did you have an NPS survey that didn't go as planned? Did you receive an angry email from a dissatisfied customer?

Don't panic. When you respond in the right way, customer criticism can be a valuable tool for your business.

Read on to learn how to manage customer criticism's in a way that can turn a complaining customer into a brand ambassador.

Getting the Bad News

Customers like to provide feedback, and if your company is smart, it will offer lots of ways that customers can reach out and let them know how they are feeling.

A customer should have regular access to customer satisfaction surveys as well as the ability to communicate with a representative through social media, on the phone, and through email or on your website. 


Source: Benefits of Customer Feedback

Assuming you have these channels of communication open to your customers, you are bound to get a negative review once in a while. When this happens, it can feel like a very negative thing for a CRM manager.

The negative criticism could be about a specific interaction the customer had with your company, frustration over a product that didn't work as planned, or issues with your customer service or marketing team.

When this happens, the best thing to do is to remind yourself that customer criticism is a normal part of working with a business, and prepare to spring into action

Act Fast

When you get a customer complaint, the most important thing to do is to react to it. Never let a customer's complaint just sit there. 

By not responding, you are basically telling your customer you don't care about them, and this is the number one reason why customers leave a company. (No, it's not because of money.) 

Source: Why Customers Leave A Business. 

When you receive a complaint, meet with your team to come up with a game plan of how you want to respond. Depending on what the complaint or criticism was, you will want to take a different approach that addresses each individual concern.

A negative customer experience can usually be rectified with a personal apology and some sort of monetary reward. A customer who is dissatisfied with a product may require something more substantial, like a written explanation that the problem with the product is being resolved

See this example here of how a restaurant responded to a negative Yelp review by letting the customer know that her complaints were heard, and that the restaurant was working on resolving the problems. 

Whatever response you decide on, the key is to act fast. You do not want to leave too much time between the customer criticism and your response.

Taking too long to respond is basically the equivalent to not responding at all, because it gives your customer a lot of time to give up on your product or service and walk away. 

Of course, in the case of NPS survey or other survey responses, you may not be able to respond to every negative comment right away because of the large amount of responses and their specificity.

In this case, a generic survey or questionnaire can be sent out to all survey respondents in order to get more information.

Some questions you would want to include would be the following: 

  • What was the last interaction you had with our company? Please explain how it had a negative impact on your customer experience.
  • What steps can we take to improve your customer experience? 
  • Do you feel that our company cares about you? Why or why not? 
  • What do you think is the most important thing a company should do to earn your loyalty? 

Once that survey is sent out, you can focus on specific responses, and take your time crafting the right plan to reach out to each one.

The Customer Is Always Right

When addressing customer criticisms, it can be difficult to know how to deal with potentially angry or frustrated customer.

This is why you should be focused on adapting an authentic, sincere approach to your outreach.

At the end of the day, customers tend to be pretty forgiving if they think that their problem is going to get fixed, and will not walk away from a company after a bad experience if the problem gets resolved. 

Herein lies the hidden value of customer criticism. The fact that you received the criticism gives you the chance to do something about it, and that can mean the difference between keeping and losing a customer.

The real customer experiences you need to worry about are the unsatisfied customers who don't speak up and express their concerns. These customers will often end up leaving your company, and will relay their bad experience to friends and family.  

First Hand Advice

The other hidden value of customer criticism is that it is first hand advice on how to make your company better.

If someone is informing you about an issue with your product, that insight is essentially a free assessment of your product, and saves your team the trouble of having to guess how to improve your product for next time.

Hearing that a customer had a bad experience with a customer service representative is really a form of advice on how to make your company better (clearly, you need to work on customer service in this case.)

For this reason, next time you receive customer criticism, look at it as an opportunity to improve, and a last minute chance to save a customer from adding to your churn. If you view criticism this way, it really is one of your most valuable tools.  


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