You can’t please everyone all of the time, no matter how hard you try. (Click to tweet this!)
That’s something I found very hard to come to terms with when I started out in ecommerce. To an extent, I find it hard to come to terms with even today. I want every single customer to have a fantastic experience when they buy from us – from the moment they place the order, to the day they place the item in the trash after its served its purpose.
When I say “manage negative feedback”, most people automatically assume I’m talking specifically about eBay and eBay’s famous feedback system, but that’s not the case. Nor am I just talking about Amazon and the other major marketplaces.
Now, more than ever, customers across all selling channels have the opportunity to give feedback about your ecommerce business (service, products, etc.) across a range of mediums – from Google, Facebook and Twitter, to TrustPilot, Feefo and Yotpo – and other review websites.
Every now and then, no matter who you are or what you do, you’ll find your business has to manage negative feedback. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of it all – especially when you work so hard to ensure customers have a wonderful experience. So how exactly do you deal with negative feedback in a professional, courteous manner? Here’s a few tips I’ve put together:
Take a step back
Look at things from your customers’ point of view: It’s easy to say “we did our best,” but at the end of the day, most customers will only complain if there’s actually a problem. If you have to take a deep breath before looking into the problem, then do it. If you have to step away for an hour and come back to it – that’s fine too.
It can be super frustrating as an ecommerce business owner when a third party company (like a courier) is at fault – unfortunately that’s just a fact of doing business and relying on other companies. If the problem arose from something in-house then you can identify the cause and put procedures in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again. If a third party company has indeed caused the problem, communicate with that third party company in order to ensure the issue doesn’t reoccur.
When you receive negative feedback or a bad review, it’s important to get in touch with the customer affected as soon as possible in order to offer an apology for their poor experience, and potentially a solution.
Regardless of who caused the issue (an in-house member of staff, a courier company, etc.) it’s important that you apologize to the customer. After all, they’ve purchased from your company, so it falls to you to make that apology.
I like to contact customers by telephone, if at all possible – but you may prefer to use email. Either way, be professional, apologetic, sincere and of course helpful. Let’s fix the problem for the customer!
When you email or telephone your customer, it’s important to listen to what they have to say.
Listen intently and reassure them that procedures will be put in place to prevent this problem affecting them – or other customers – going forward. If someone’s going out of their way to provide you with feedback, the least you can do is to listen and take it seriously.
Make things right
Once you’ve made contact with your customer and listened to what they have to say, the ball is in your court. Decide how you’re going to make things right for that customer, and tell them what course of action you’ll take.
That might entail a full refund, sending out a free gift – or even just re-dispatching their original order (if it was lost in the mail, for example). Take that course of action promptly to clear up the issue as swiftly as possible.
I’m a big fan of replying publicly to negative feedback or comments – not to debunk what has been said, but to hold my hands up and say sorry, and that we’ll do our best to ensure the problem doesn’t reoccur for other customers.
A well-written reply to negative feedback goes a long way to alleviate the concerns other potential customers may have about shopping from your website. Show people you mean business by taking the feedback in a constructive manner, tell them you’re dealing with (or have dealt with) the customer affected, and reassure people you’ll do better in future!
If you’re able to resolve the customer’s problem to their satisfaction, a lot of feedback platforms allow for the customer to revise or remove their negative comments completely.
It’s up to you whether you ask the customer if they’ll be happy to do so, but usually after successfully resolving a problem customers are receptive to such requests. Feedback revisions on Amazon and eBay are possible – the same with major review platforms like Trustpilot. Click here for more info on removing negative feedback on Amazon.
Rinse and repeat!
When you come across negative feedback directed at your company in future, simply rinse and repeat this guide! You’ll find that some customers can’t be pleased no matter what you do for them, but the vast majority will be happy you’ve taken time out to contact them, and they’ll be over the moon when you rescue the situation from the jaws of defeat.
No one likes to receive negative comments or feedback aimed in their direction, but in the world of ecommerce you simply can’t afford to duck or avoid such criticism. It’s important to take a deep breath and deal with every issue, every time, in order to instill confidence in existing and future customers – and to show people that you really do mean business! Things will go wrong from time to time, such is the nature of business. It’s simply a case of listening to customer complaints and putting strategies in place to minimize the number of issues that arise, and to deal with any such problems effectively when they do occur.
Even the biggest and best businesses out there have complaints, don’t take them personally – just use complaints and feedback to improve the way you do things in the future.