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    People who are negative toward your business can often be your biggest supporters after careful customer support and simple relationship building. This is because the barrier between people online is the ‘human’ element that is often lacking compared to a brick and mortar business.

    It’s highly unlikely that if a consumer is completely dissatisfied with their experience in-store they will spend 30 mins or more elaborately lamenting about the customer service, atmosphere, or quality of a product right to a staff member’s face. This does happen in some cases (shout out to amazing team members that deal with this regularly), but mostly when someone is very upset, they internalize it and take it home with them only to later get online and vent their frustrations in the form of negative feedback or reviews!

    The humans behind the business are taken completely out of the equation, but being on the receiving end of this is never easy or fun, and it can feel tempting to react versus responding. 

    Here are our top 5 ways to deal with customer complaints.

    Compassion is King

     When reading a negative review or critique of your business, it’s likely you may feel attacked and frustrated that the customer doesn’t understand you or would react in a public way. While your reaction is valid, it’s important to move beyond this and see the opportunity to rebuild trust with your audience. Reacting in a way that proves you want to create a connection is a win-win because 33% of customers who received a response to their negative review later changed it to be more positive, while 34% deleted their negative review! When replying to negativity, remember to keep your tone friendly and understanding. It’s often best to personalize it with a name if available, acknowledge what was written, and add the steps that will be taken internally. Sign off with your name and position, to again, make it more personal + so they may be able to easily identify/ask for you when they return!

    Bury the Hatchet

    Sometimes, your only option is to bury the negative review by accumulating way more positive reviews you can boast. After receiving a negative review, you’ll want to work extra hard to solve the problem/concern while also trying to move it down the list. Prioritize acting on or fixing the issue if the claim is valid so positivity flows in the next time someone receives your product or service.

    Perfect Time to Pivot

    If the negative review is valid – for example, your branding is not as inclusive as it could be or you’re in need of expanding and growing your leadership team, negative feedback can offer the perfect opportunity to pivot! Sometimes, we can be as proud of our business and content as possible, but that does not alleviate the chance of someone taking it the wrong way and their terrible review spreading like wildfire across the social media streets. Take the customer complaints to heart and decide if this is an issue you need to internally improve to avoid these types of reviews in the future. 

    Streamline Your Systems 

    Did you receive a negative review that has to do with human error? If so, this type of feedback can be a great learning opportunity on how and where you can automate things for improved customer service. The richest data stream is in failure. For example, if someone is upset it took your team 4 days to respond to their email or 15 minutes to get their coffee, this is an opportunity for automation or systematization within your approach or processes! Can you invest in email automation using AI to answer FAQ emails within minutes? Can you implement an order prioritization system so you have one barista working on simple orders and two working on complex ones aka shorten the delivery time for all orders placed? Systems bring order to chaos and can bring solutions to simple human errors with automations.

    Incentivize the Issues

     In case there isn’t a chance to quickly change the product based on a bad review, you could use strategies like sending a gift with purchase or a discount coupon so your customers are elated by the unexpected gesture and comment positively about your customer service.

    Bottom line, due to the value placed on word of mouth – a bad review can disrupt a lot in your short term and long term business. But if you follow our top five tips on how to handle a negative (or outright bad) customer complaint, you can turn non-believing customers into your biggest supporters. After all, we all want to simply bounce right back to the pride you started your business with in the first place!