Imagine that it is Friday night, and you want to go see a movie and have dinner. How would you go about it?
Walk me through the planning phase, please. You would ask the modern day mirror, ie, your desktop or mobile to show you the movie with the highest rating and within seconds it shows the results. Chances are, you’ll probably scroll through the negative comments so that you will know what you are getting into for sure. (Yes that’s right, after all, it is the negatives that are more thorough than the obviously glowing accounts about something). Now that you have selected a movie, you would again seek the help of the magic mirror to show you the nearest and dearest eatery that suits your plan. You would go through the comments and ratings and then finally decide the place for dinner.
Now let me ask you some questions!
Do you think the process is any different no matter what service you look out for?
Isn’t it the number of stars and comments that make these decisions for you?
Do you dare enough to go have lunch at a place with 1 star and 25 negative comments?
Do you understand why I went this far to make a point?
Yes! The negative Feedback loop has become the foremost important task to be taken care of at this age.
For those who still haven’t quite got the idea of it, Negative Feedback Loops is the process of you listening to the complaints and grievances and implementing the needful actions. This age where from a person to a park is defined with just the number of stars and comments. It has been always important to have a positive image and satisfied customers for a company to succeed. But today it has come to a point where even customers who are not even geographically near to you could become lost forever. For them, you are only the comments and stars that the Internet genie gives them.
It shouldn’t a surprise to know that these online reviews influence the buyers. A recent study reveals that customers are likely to share negative experiences on social media rather than positive ones. When 95% of the sample admitted that they would rather share negative reviews, 54% shared these negative stories with more than 5 people. The study also revealed that 66% of the customers refuse to make another purchase after these negative experiences. You are losing customers and also destroying potential customers.
Customer Satisfaction is the only way to stay out of this vicious circle of the negative feedback loop. And isn’t in obvious that you’ll need to collect customer feedback and act on it if you need to ensure customer satisfaction? And here when I call negative feedback loop vicious, I am not saying it is the worst nightmare for your business or you are doomed with no way out. It is just that you will have to double everything to comeback…double the strategies, money, effort, and resources, not to mention the amount of stress it gets you into. Prevention is always and always a better cure. There are many companies who have turned these negative feedback loops into successful referral programs. You are actually getting to showcase your strengths and versatility as a company if done right.
Let’s not gamble, it is better to avoid it if you can and reduce the possibility of it to happen. It’s not like you could completely avoid feedback. You have to and you are bound to upset some of your customers. So here are a few strategies that you could follow and save yourself some pain down the road of the negative feedback loop.
1. Listen to them!
Trust me, it is worth it. I agree there might be strange and totally unrealistic expectations but amidst all that could be the gem you were looking for. Feedback helps you to understand if what you are doing is right and when you are not, whether you need to do a lot more or whether you need to stop right now. Take it as a chance to show them that they are valued. Do not make them feel like they are talking to a stone. Be responsive. It inculcates the feeling of oneness or family sense in your customer and believes me It is the best way to improve your business too.
2. Ask the Right Questions.
Asking questions would help you in business and personal life as well. It would definitely help to avoid them thinking that you defending and justifying yourself. It would make the customers feel like you actually do want to get to the bottom of the issue and wants to help the customer get what they want.
When a customer walks into the shop and maybe ask for a mobile under 200 dollars, imagine you handing over a mobile that is of that range. On the other hand, imagine you asking them about specifications and expectations and getting a mobile that suits them. Which one would have left a good impression? Even if you couldn’t give what they wanted, seeing the effort and time you took to fulfill them would save you from negative feedback loops. In the feedback collection also, you need to show the same attitude. If you are not ready to ask the right question, you won’t get the right answers. It is quite the key to diagnosis.
3. Resolve it ASAP
Mistakes are bound to happen. You should focus on fixing the entire process in a way that it wouldn’t happen again. Each mistake is a learning point. Get to know why it has occurred without blaming your employees or the customers. Resolving the matter as soon as possible is the key here. You are getting a chance to win over the customer’s trust in you. Companies like Skype are pioneers when it comes to fixing the complaints within the time frame. If you handle customer complaints proactively, it would erase the bad experience and draw a pleasant interaction. You could even expect them to turn as personal ambassadors of the brand.
4. Be Always In Control
Being proactive is going to help your business a lot. People hate waiting around for anything these days. And it sure shows how dedicated you are to the customers. In 2010 when Toyota was one week late to discuss the retail crisis, it was criticised widely for it. By the time they stepped in, more than 2 million vehicles in the US had been recalled because of a defect in them. And that cost the company a loss of 21 billion dollars. Don’t be slothful while encountering a negative feedback. Jump in and squash the issue as fast as possible before it spreads all over and costs you.
5. Do What You Say!
The perception customers have about you play a vital role when it comes to tackling or better, avoiding negative feedback loops. When the brand fails to live up to what they should be customer feels betrayed. A few years back, Southwest Airlines told a man that he cannot avail the services in their flight saying he is “too fat to fly” That person tweeted the incident and picked up views and hatred for the airlines from all over the world. It was also covered in national media outlets like USA Today and ABC. Even though they apologized later, the damage was already done. Building a brand image is no easy task and you should put in a tremendous effort to maintain it. After all, it is the brand image that is created in the minds of customers that prompt them to leave or stay.
6. Do Not Walk Away
If your business accidentally missed a step and made a mistake, don’t ever try to hide it. Ignoring the consequences is no more foolish than making it dark with closed eyes. Mistakes happen and the next best thing you could do is not running away but to deal with them head-on. Sure it is risky and wouldn’t look like the easy thing for your business or to your ego. But it is the right thing to do. Recognize the complaint and publicly apologize for it. Be sure to take the issue off the social media. A notable incident is when Walgreens pharmacy got sued by a lady for filling her prescription incorrectly. It lasted for about a year. She even had to go under the knife for the complications caused by it. When contacted, Walgreens referred to her as a third party and stopped attending her calls. Later, when they were dragged down the long road of shame and revenue loss, they had to pay her a huge amount and also lost many customers. Be brave enough to admit the mistake and implement a process to ensure that this mistake would never happen again.
7. Offer Incentives
Well, sometimes all you need to do is pour in a lot of sugar to get that positive wave and it is totally worth it. Let’s take an example with Zomato to explain it further. Imagine, you are a regular customer and at one time you had a bad food experience and you voiced your feedback to Zomato. The Customer Relations Manager has now two options. Either, let you go or lure you back with an incentive such as free dessert or free credits to your Zomato account. Which one do you think he will choose? Yes, the latter one, he would throw in a free dessert or credits to your account and keep you happier. It is a gesture that is foolproof when it comes to establishing a stronger bond with the customer. You are taking back the trust in your company.
8. Know Your Rating and the Message
Most of the time negative feedbacks could be from a misunderstanding, a business error or spam. Once you identify the reason, it will be easier to come up with a solution. And far more often than you’d think, a negative comment is unreasonable. Sometimes it is merely an attempt by your competitor to jeopardize your reputation. If this is the reason, address it as a legitimate complaint, apologize and then take the conversation offline to address it.
Another factor that will establish your relationship with the customer is this- it is very important for you to know the audience’s perception of your company with the aid of a customer feedback software. Even If you don’t have a strong social media presence, knowing what people are talking about your company in the social media or review sites would help you to know the pulse of your audience and to plan strategies that would help you to build a positive image about the company.
9. Happy and Confident Employees to the Rescue
No company can succeed without efficient and loyal employees. They are the representatives of your company and should be its pride. There nothing more that could impress your customers than an elegant and pleasant employee. When you treat your employees poorly that reflects in their attitude to the customers. While you are rushing to provide quality services to your customers, do not forget the employees who do it for you. United Airlines came under fire when David Carroll, singer saw the cargo handlers damaging his custom-made guitar by throwing it carelessly through his airplane window. His band wrote a song on the incident and became a hit with more than 10 million views.
Another example would be when Charter Communication asked the tornado victims to ‘look around’ for the cable box or to pay fine. Such insensitive incidents can seriously damage your company’s reputation and suck you into ruthless negative feedback loops.
10. Follow Up
Many companies make the mistake of not turning their head again to see if everything is still okay. Feedback is not always sufficient. After an issue has been resolved you are to do a follow-up. Check in to see if the issue has been resolved for good or to inquire if there is something else that is needed to be done from your side. It would unquestionably give the idea that you genuinely care for their pleasant experience as a customer. This would, in turn, build trust in you, which would save yourself from negative feedback loops.
It is true that every company wants to see only positive reviews and complimenting comments topped with 5 golden stars. I hate to burst that beautiful little bubble, but that won’t happen. You will get negative feedback from the customers. There is no way around it, am sorry. It can be quite painful, both financially and emotionally. But it’s not the end of the road. You have these strategies to implement the right way to avoid it as much as possible and also to get out of it without much damage to you or your company.