- Don’t Take It Personally.
It is extremely hard to separate yourself from your emotions when you receive negative feedback but it is important to step away from your feelings. Try to put yourself completely in the customer’s shoes and see the situation from their point of view.
- Always Respond.
You may not feel like it but always post a response within 24 hours as a minimum.
If you time to need explore what went wrong and why, tell the customer. Post a ‘holding’ message, telling them that you are taking their complaint very seriously and you need a few hours to get to the bottom of it. But tell them you will respond and tell them when. And if you say you will respond, make 100% sure you do.
The worst thing you can do in any situation is to say nothing. Never ignore your customers under any circumstances, no matter how awkward or unreasonable you may think they are.
- Never, Ever Lose Your Cool.
React calmly and considerately. If you feel cross or angry in any way, take a deep breath and ‘step away from the keyboard’ then give yourself a few hours to calm down and consider your response. If you truly can’t trust your self to be civil, then ask someone else to deal with the review – and probably let them handle all future communication of that nature.
- Disarm With Politeness & Gratitude.
Thank the customer for taking the time to post a review and for bringing the problem to your attention. Then apologise for whatever went wrong. Often that is enough to turn an irate customer into an understanding one.
- Always Highlight The Issue Early In Your Reply.
For example: ‘I’m sorry to hear that you had issues with the air conditioning in your room’.
Acknowledging the problem in black and white immediately makes the customer aware that they are being listened to.
- Don’t Make Excuses.
There was a problem. The customer doesn’t really need to know or even care why that problem occurred, they just care what affect it had on them.
A sincere apology is often all that is required.
- Take Responsibility.
Do this early in your reply. For example. “I’m sorry to hear that you experienced so many problems with your electronic door key. This is unacceptable and should not have happened”.
- Be Prepared To Put Things Right – Even If It Costs.
Each problem will have its own solution. Refunds, credits, replacements, alternatives or additional extras, there are many ways you can make things up to your customer. And every single one is cheaper than a bad reputation.
- Take The Negotiation Offline.
Encourage the customer to contact you by email, phone, private message or even in writing to discuss the details of how you come to an agreement. That will give you a chance to validate any ‘chancers’ and keep negotiations with ‘real’ customers (and their outcome) out of the public domain.
- Stay Focused (On The Customer).
Stick to the old mantra ‘The Customer Is Always Right’. Re-enforce this in discussion or debate about the issue within your own organisation.
- Keep An Eye On The Trends.
Don’t ignore what your customers are telling you. If you receive a large number of complaints about the catering, find out why. If there are regular issues about the heating, there has to be a reason. Find out why and put it right.
- Don’t Be Scared Of Negative Reviews.
You will receive some negative reviews. But they will always be overpowered by the good that positive reviews can do. Run your business well, take criticism as an opportunity to improve and embrace the challenge of turning customer attitudes around. It is amazing how quickly a customer’s tone-of voice changes once they know that their opinion has been heard and an apology has been offered.
- Educate Your Team.
Work hard to create a business-wide commitment to listening and responding respectfully and politely to customers and to finding the smoothest resolution possible in every instance.