The business world has grown multiple folds over the last few decades. Now people are innovating more and more. Every week companies are launching a new product or a new feature. But how many of those are able to survive?
Earlier it was the strongest who would survive in this chaos. But as customers gained the power over influencing business strategies, the question no longer remains about strength. Now it is about who customers would approve!
Empowering customers affects both the companies as well as customers, differently.
The business owners now focus more on their customer needs. They invest more in customer support. Their main priority is that the customers remain happy and satisfied. The whole company and the products now revolve around customers alone.
On the other hand,
With great power comes great responsibility!
The customers now decide the fate of a product, a feature and in some cases even the whole company. But one can’t expect customers to be right the whole time. Just because customers have choices doesn’t mean they can get to decide the best product.
Or do they..?
In this article, we are going to discuss one of the constructive ways for customers to exercise this power – Customer Feedback. Further, you will see how you can manage when customers take things into their hands and decide to give you a single star.
According to BusinessDictionary, Customer Feedback is
Information coming directly from customers about the satisfaction or dissatisfaction they feel with a product or a service.
Customer feedback or the customer review helps maintain the balance between that power and responsibility which customers hold. With the help of customer reviews, a company gets a chance to see what went wrong. They even get a shot at redemption if there has been a mistake on their part.
Is it really necessary?
Customer feedback is the main reason companies, along with their products, grow. It provides customer’s views about the service he/she is receiving. And moreover, knowledge about what is wrong with the product.
Here are some reasons Customer Feedback is really necessary:
As we discussed, it is one of the most important ways to improvise the products and services of your company. If you listen to your customers and make a product according to their needs, they are bound to buy it. Not just buy, they will love the fact that you actually listened to them.
Take the example of companies like Apple, Dell, etc. These companies involve their customer reviews throughout product development. As a result, they get a sticky customer base which keeps them as the brand they are today.
Measures customer satisfaction
Listening to customer reviews is the best and fastest way to see if they are satisfied with your service or not. Of course one can also wait to see the tables turn as they reject your products. But taking customer feedback seriously seems a better option.
Helps plan customer retention strategies
Customers have tons of choices. But if they take the pain to write to you regarding their experience, it means they trusted your brand in the first place. Besides they want you to do something about their problem.
By letting the customers know that they mean a lot and you are listening to them helps strengthen that trust. Most of the times, customers don’t get pushed away due to bad products alone. The real reason they get pushed away is due to the company’s inability to listen to them and act accordingly.
Provides facts and figures
Business strategies are not just about risks and assumptions. Instead, it is based on calculations and facts. Customer reviews provide an insight into popular trends. In the long run, these reviews can prove beneficial in the development of the product.
But if a huge number of customers are complaining about something, then it means there is something wrong. You need to make sure you give proper attention to that too.
What drives customer reviews?
The moment customers start following a brand, they start having high expectations from the company and its products. Customers don’t really know if that product or service is best or not. It is the duty of the company to prove that their service is best in class.
This is where most of the companies go wrong. To fulfill the customer expectations, they first need to know what these expectations are. And what better way to know customer expectations than talking to them directly.
When a customer invests in a product he never thinks about reviewing or giving any feedback. The main reason behind customer feedback is their expectations and how well was the product able to match up to them.
A great review from a customer guarantees that he got exactly what he was looking for. Maybe even more than that. It shows how satisfied the customer is with the product and the service. On the other hand, a bad review can have many reasons behind it. We have already discussed what great power customers have in their hands. The power to make a product a success or a total failure. Besides, they never hesitate to use that power. Customers can post a bad review even when there is nothing wrong. Or even if the issue is caused by their own hands. It is very hard to predict why exactly bad reviews happen.
But one thing is for sure. As soon as there is a bad review it creates a panic among the company. Fair or unfair, bad reviews are nothing less than a nightmare. Considering the reports from The Telegraph, in the UK alone, these bad reviews have cost businesses £30,000 a year.
This raises a question, why not just delete these reviews..? As tempting as it may seem, but these bad reviews have their own importance too.
Why Bad Reviews are not that bad..?
Apart from making huge losses and shutting down businesses, negative reviews are ironically very important in business. Most of the times these reviews have nothing to do with the overall quality of service as well as product. Interestingly, here are some scenarios which may lead to a negative customer feedback:
- When there is a genuine defect or fault
There are times when due to any reason there is a genuine defect or fault in the product. For customers, investing and trusting in a brand is a big deal. But when that trust breaks, they go for a negative feedback.
- Due to bad customer service
This scenario is most common among customers. Customer support of a company plays a very important role in business-2-customer interactions. It is the only link between the company and its customers.
So when the service provided by the customer support degrades, customers have no other option but to opt for a negative review.
- When the customer is having a bad day
Customers are not robots. They have emotions and these emotions drive most of their actions. A happy customer may ignore a defect and opt for reordering the product with a smile. But a sad or angry customer may never forgive a small hunch in service.
Some customers just need a place to vent out their anger and frustration. And a feedback form is the best place to do so.
- When a product doesn’t stand up to the requirement
There are times when customers are easily deceived by word of mouth. They start expecting something from the product which isn’t possible. Most of the customers understand it when they realise that the product was never made for them.
But sometimes, there is no escape for the product but to go through a negative feedback.
- When customers are confused
Not all customers are tech-savvy. They know why they need a product, but they may not know how to use the product. This leads to great confusion which some customers resolve with the help of customer support.
But some of them are just too lazy for that. So they move on to posting a feedback instead.
- When customers think it is fun
This is one of the most dangerous practices by the customers. They don’t realise how deeply a bad review can affect companies. When a customer posts a negative feedback just for fun, he doesn’t know about the consequences.
With the help of social media, a single negative review is enough to ruin the brand image.
As you can see, most of the above-mentioned points show when customers post a bad review. Hence such reviews not necessarily mean that the company’s service or products are bad. In fact, these reviews can even give companies an edge over their competitors.
Let’s see how..!
The “good” in Bad Reviews
Here are some advantages of bad reviews that can prove helpful to any company:
The fact that customers are posting reviews means that they are at least giving you a chance among so many other competitors. For a small company, this thing acts as a green signal that their products are actually able to get the customer’s attention. All that is left is to make the product better.
Reality check for big brands
In the case of big names in the business world, customer feedback acts as a reality check. Not everything under a big brand can be a great product. There are times when a big brand has to stop depending on its name and start innovating. Customer reviews have that power inside them.
Opportunity to address customers
A two-way communication in business is very important. Customer reviews, especially bad ones give companies a chance to address its customers. Most of the times one single bad review results in solving the issues of many customers.
Makes customer believe that the company is genuine
How many times have you seen a company with no bad review..?
Bad reviews show that the company is bound to make mistakes. Even as less as just one mistake, but a bad review is a sign that the company is real with genuine products and genuine customers.
Opportunity to shine among others
Bad reviews are not something to feel bad about. In fact, it is just because of negative feedbacks that a company gets the chance to address customers and improvise. The customers are going to a company and telling them what to improve.
Is there any better opportunity to impress your customers by letting them know that you care..?
It is a golden opportunity for the company to work according to customer demands and specifications. Moreover working in this direction, customers are promising that if not for a particular defect, the product would have been perfect for them.
How to handle these negative customer reviews..?
Let’s say a company gets 5 bad reviews out of the total of 100 reviews. Do you think that the company should be worried about those 5 reviews..?
The answer to this question is No… and Yes..!
Getting a bad review doesn’t mean that you can lose your primary focus. A company may have many customers and it may need to think about them first. Losing their focus from satisfying those 95 customers and panicking because of those 5 is not a smart option.
But at the same time, it doesn’t mean that those 5 bad reviews don’t mean anything. There may be some reason behind those 5 bad reviews. It is mandatory for a business to find out the reasons and act accordingly.
A scenario like this may seem very confusing to some people. It is better to avoid any confusion in the future rather than just accepting an answer that contains both a ‘Yes’ and a ‘No’.
Here are some do’s and don’ts while handling negative customer reviews to get something positive out of it in the long run:
Check the authenticity of the review
As we discussed earlier, some customers tend to post reviews just for fun. Sometimes being fair is least of customer’s concern. So in that case, make sure the review or the reviewer is genuine or not.
Most of the times there is a panic following a bad review. Before committing any mistake or blaming someone from your company, at least try to figure out if there is a fault or not. That might be very helpful as well as time-saving.
Remove fake reviews
Once you know which reviews are genuine and which are not, make sure to get rid of the fake ones. This is mainly because there is no use replying to that review and other customers too will get a bad impression watching a bad review unattended.
Dig deep into the issue
Being a customer oriented company means if a customer reports something, you need to see what it exactly is. Be it a real review or a fake one, it is greatly advised you dig deep into the issue.
As a result, you will easily be able to distinguish the real review from the fake one. Also, if the issue is real, you will be able to address it and find its solution.
Respond to bad reviews publicly
Bad reviews are nothing to be afraid of. These negative feedbacks are also posted by the same customers who praise your products. So if something went wrong you need to get it right and let the customers know about it.
Customers can post reviews on any platform. They can post it on your Facebook page, Twitter page, official website, etc. You need to respond back to them publicly stating the problem as well as the solution.
Say the magic word- “SORRY”
Never forget to say sorry. And by sorry I don’t mean the same scripted line,
Sorry for the inconvenience..!
Find the solution and accept your fault publicly. Admitting your mistakes and apologising is never a bad option.
If possible try to compensate for the inconvenience that the customer faced. You can send a gift card, coupon code or you can insist to replace the product. But always talk about compensation at the very end of the conversation or it may make the situation worse.
Be polite if it is a customer’s fault
As we discussed, not every time it’s your fault. Customers can also be the one to misunderstand things. Be polite to them. Empathize, but also tell clearly where things went wrong.
Customers are not geniuses. They make silly mistakes sometimes. But telling them their mistakes in a polite manner will never become old-fashioned.
Learn from your mistakes
Negative reviews are stepping stones in the development of the product as well as the company. It is fine if customers mentioned something that was not working as expected. But think on the positive side as not you can fix it and make the product perfect for your customers.
Never avoid bad reviews
Never commit a mistake of avoiding bad reviews. They may be less in numbers but don’t forget even the largest avalanche is caused by small things.
Small things matter a lot when it comes to customer satisfaction. Make sure to address every customer review, especially the negative ones. It will make customers realise that you actually care about their convenience.
Never argue with customers
Arguing with the customers is the easiest way of wasting time, both yours and theirs. What’s done is done. Being polite is the key to customer retention, even when your customer is wrong.
Never hide negative reviews
If a company has got no bad review, its great. But there should be no shame if you got one. Never hide those negative reviews because these reviews show how a company treats his customer at vulnerable times.
In fact, point it out. Mention it publicly how you got a customer who was not satisfied and how your company coped with him. This shows that the company is more professional. Even when a mistake is committed, it never steps back to admit it.
Never cheat the review system
In some cases, it is seen that companies pay the customers or even random people to post fake reviews and give five stars, just to show customers how good their product is.
This may seem a very clever strategy but you can imagine what would happen when the reality is revealed. Customer feedback helps grow a company. By cheating the feedback system you will be cheating your own company’s growth.
Further, there are some consumer review websites such as Yelp with some advanced systems that automatically warns its readers and customers against paid and suspected reviews. So think twice before cheating.
So this was all about how important customer feedback is and how you can handle negative customer reviews. I hope this article will prove helpful in understanding the role of negative customer feedback in developing your business. I would love to hear your thoughts about the same in the comment section below.
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