We all want feedback on our products, ourselves, our business, our day to day lives, our choices, etc. We want those around us to tell us that we’re doing a good job and that they love what we’re offering! Or we want them to say things like, “good job sticking to your diet and exercise plan! I can see a big difference!” It’s helpful and it feels good.
But what about negative feedback?
“It doesn’t look like you’re dropping as much weight as you wanted from your diet and exercise plan. Have you thought about changing it up?”
“Yeah, your products are great but I wish you offered a bigger selection.”
While it might hurt your feelings at first glance or knock you down a few rungs, this kind of information can be insanely helpful.
Take yourself and your emotions out of the equation. I know that can be difficult to do (take it from someone who is extremely sensitive to criticism), but you’ll be rewarded for doing so.
Let’s look back at this example:
“Yeah, your products are great but I wish you offered a bigger selection.”
“Your products are great”, that’s good feedback! You’re doing good work. BUT this person isn’t buying from you because you don’t have a big enough selection. Rather than getting caught up on the fact that you didn’t land a buyer, focus on the fact that they gave you information on how to improve your business and rope them in. A bigger selection would encourage them to buy from you. You can use this information to not only expand what your store has to offer, but you can also use it as a possible motivation for why others haven’t bought from you. You know, the nameless entities that peruse your website but don’t buy or say anything. They just ghost you. Perhaps they too want a bigger selection.
And if you look at these kind of reviews from an unbiased standpoint, you’ll find that they’re actually far more helpful than positive reviews.
“I loved the content that you wrote for me! It was exactly what I was after. I highly recommend this freelance writer for any and all of your content needs!”
Man, that compliment feels good right? I’m beaming just remembering the fact that someone left that for me. But at the end of the day, it’s not really that helpful. Sure, you’re doing a good job but there’s always room to improve.
“Good writer, but she’s kind of stiff. The content she wrote felt more like academic prose than something light-hearted and attractive.”
This is another review I’ve gotten. At first it kind of stung. As I said, I’m a sensitive person! But when I actually looked back at it, I was able to pull some valuable insights from it. My writing was stiff and wasn’t really that engaging. It worked for the first person just fine, but this client wasn’t completely satisfied. It taught me to ask my clients what style they want from me and also encouraged me to “loosen up” my writing.
What I’m talking about here isn’t the constructive criticism I mentioned above. What I’m referring to is straight up negative feedback. The kind where the person isn’t, well, kind. You know the type:
“I might choose your agency to market my business if your agency was better. You guys all seem to be lazy and uninspiring. Your website is pretty bland too. Why would I want my business to be marketed by an agency that’s so lackluster? Seriously, 0/10.”
Yikes and ouch. A word to the wise though: there are plenty of gems hidden in that message. Even though this person was rather rude in their post, you can gather some valuable insights:
Sure you really have to dig for these gems sometimes, but for the most part they exist in these kinds of reviews. While there are better ways of going about things, this person did succeed in telling you what needs to be fixed/changed/updated in order to attract more business. Could they have done it without the insults? Yeah, probably. But the point of the matter is you now have some valuable information to use to your advantage.
Okay, but what about the feedback that is just plain rude and not helpful?
“Worst marketing agency I’ve encountered. If you’re thinking about working with them, run! Run as far and as fast as you can in the opposite direction. These guys clearly got their marketing skills from a Cracker Jack Box.”
Well then, that’s not very helpful is it? Obviously they didn’t like your agency; they made that abundantly clear.
So how do you deal with this? Well, there are a few ways:
For these types of reviews, I always suggest asking the author to expand a little bit:
“I’m sorry we didn’t meet your standards! Can you please elaborate on what you didn’t like about us? Do you have any suggestions on how to improve our agency? Thanks!”
Not only does this look good on your business from the eyes of potential clients who also see the review, but it will also show OP that you do give a shit about your clients and business. Plus, you might be able to pull out some gems if they’re willing to play ball:
“The people I spoke to didn’t seem to have a clue about anything! Your company claims to have been in business for 10 years, but the person I spoke to didn’t seem to understand anything I was saying. He/she had NO idea what I wanted done and they were really lost and confused during the entire process.”
Well, now you have a starting point. Whoever is speaking to clients is coming off like a newbie or perhaps they’re “stiff”. Now, you can work on improving this.
This is one I hesitate to post, especially for new businesses. A lot of people have learned that if they act rude or say awful things about a business, they’ll get rewarded for this behavior. Think of the lady who screamed at the fast food worker over not getting enough sauce or whatever. The manager likely scrambled over, chastised the employee, and offered the woman a substantial discount or something free… Over something trivial.
However, if you think this customer is worth reaching out to, you can always try to incentivize them to come back:
“I’m very sorry you had a bad experience with our business! We would like to offer you a 10% discount on our services should you decide to give us another chance. This offer will be good for the next 3 weeks so take your time!”
Whatever you do, DON’T post this where the public can see it. You’re just asking for the freeloaders of the world to come post negative content so they can get a discount.
This might also be a tactic you switch to if they respond to your request for an explanation with more rude insults. Sometimes you’re just not going to get info out of people and they take a joy in being rude to others. In this case, just cut your losses. Post an apology then move on. Don’t dwell on the negativity; you can please everyone and as I said, some people are just mean for the sake of being mean.
“I’m very sorry that you had a negative experience with our business! This is certainly not how try to conduct ourselves or our agency.”
If they keep up their gripes after the apology and continue to post negativity, ignore it. And if you can, have it removed. Almost every platform will allow you to take down negative feedback that isn’t helpful. If they continue to “shit post” after you’ve apologized, your website shouldn’t have any problem removing the rest of the reviews.
You’re not going to make 100% of people happy 100% of the time. Negative feedback doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with you, your brand, or your business; it just didn’t strike that person’s fancy. Some people like chocolate, others prefer vanilla. Perhaps your business is the vanilla in this situation.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t collect insights where you can and use them to your advantage… But keep in mind that even if you’ve addressed the issues in the feedback and the person is still unhappy, chances are it’s not you. It’s them.
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