The Positive Power of Negative Customer Feedback

The Positive Power of Negative Customer Feedback

In this post I’m sharing negative customer feedback. It’s all about how you can increase your business, and improve your customer satisfaction by attending to the customers who aren’t satisfied!

People are not used to nice. Let’s just get that out there. They’re used to being taken advantage of and automated responses where you click 1 if, and 2 if… and you never get to a real person.

The Advantage of Small

If you’re a small or medium business (or a large one for that matter with a dedicated responder) you can win with this kind of customer service. Look, none of us is going to please all the people all the time. But you can learn from them and create an ally by handling sticky situations right.

I’m going to start sharing 3 steps to dealing with negative customer feedback. Then I’ll give you 3 very practical ways to do it when you do so you are set up for success. 

3 Response Requirements for Negative Customer Feedback

  1. Reach out to get it

Instead of “no” here’s our refund policy

When someone quits, asks for a refund, or cancels a subscription – always a phone call.

  1. Listen without being defensive

Explore the options

Understand what you wanted when you purchased/registered

Find an alternative that is a good fit

  1. Be transparent

Look, I don’t want to refund you, it hurts! Is there another way I can serve you that is a better fit? Let’s look at that. And if not, I don’t want you in the wrong place for you.

What I’d like to learn what attracted you, what disappointed you, and where potentially we can do a better job messaging the membership program in the future. I’d really value your feedback, if you have a few minutes.

Sometimes the things you want to avoid become the things you learn the most from.

3 Tips for Responding

1) Make sure your customer service front line people know how to positively – and quickly – respond.

Give them scripts, and text snippets to use. Don’t assume they know what you’re thinking. If you have complaints, keep those emails, and transcribe those phone calls to use to create responses.

One of my customer service team members recently responded with a “here’s our refund policy” and it was a little cold. If I had been on the receiving end, I wouldn’t have liked it either.

You know the way to deliver a sandwich of constructive criticism. This is similar.

=>Express empathy: I’m sorry that happened. Let’s see if we can resolve this for you.

=>Deliver the bad news/refund policy: Here’s a reminder of our refund policy.

=>End with a positive: However, every situation is unique and we want to understand what’s happening for you and fix it. Debra would like to talk personally to you. What’s the best phone to reach you and what days and times are good for you?

2) Do it at a time you’re upbeat and ready.

For me that’s morning after coffee and maybe a dog walk!

It’s the first thing I do in the morning (or the second, right after something I know will be positive!) – if of course that fits with the individual’s time.

Even if it’s not though, I will use something like Bombbomb to create a video response or a simple audio message to them via text or email … so if their schedule and mine aren’t aligned for a direct connection right away, I still am reaching out. They hear my voice and or see my face so they know I’m authentically trying to understand them before anything else.

In that message I don’t allude to anything more than exploring options, desire to understand what’s happening and request more feedback about her experience. It’s less than a minute. But it gives hope for a neutral not negative conversation.

3) Set your mind: be willing to do the right thing.

I will refund if someone is in the wrong seat on the bus. You don’t want an unhappy customer. That can spoil the goodness you have going. It’s draining for you. In the case of a program – say that’s $200, it’s just not worth it when there’s 10 people who ARE right for it.

It’s a good opportunity to review:

  • Your refund policy
  • Where that refund policy lives and whether they see it right before they click to purchase
  • What you say on your sales page and product pages about “who this is for” and “who this is not for”

My Recent Brush with Negative Customer Feedback

The customer I just talked to yesterday happens to be a Physical Therapist. She bought the program for herself. By creating a positive problem-solving experience for her, I may have increased the likelihood that she refers the women in my demographic she’s working with in her practice to me. When you can exchange one for many? Yes.

You can save a customer who gives negative feedback. You can often create a raving fan in them. Whether they buy or stay or not, they will be impressed if not shocked that you took time to listen.

My book recommendations if you’re setting up a system for Negative Customer Feedback:

The Power of Small

The Power of Nice

Both above by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval

Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles

Show notes at

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