If you’re familiar with the Net Promoter Score (NPS) metric of measuring customer satisfaction, you will be well acquainted with the term “detractor.” Detractors are your unhappy customers—the people most likely to leave negative feedback and not use your product or service again.
Netigate is a feedback solution for customer experience, employee experience and market research.
While it’s impossible to avoid criticism entirely, it’s worth considering how you can be proactive in handling potential detractors. By anticipating negative feedback or responding appropriately when it arrives, you could potentially avoid an increase in your churn rate and a decrease in your customer satisfaction scores.
Seek out regular customer feedback
Don’t wait for negative feedback to find you—actively seek it out for yourself. Voice of the customer surveys are an effective way for you to gather ongoing feedback, keep abreast of any growing dissatisfaction, and tackle it as it arises. The last thing you want is to be surprised by criticism that compounded while you weren’t listening.
You can use key touchpoints in the customer experience journey as prompts to solicit feedback. For example, an online purchase could trigger an email that asks customers to provide a review, or you could reach out to customers during the purchase process itself by including surveys on your website or in your physical retail stores.
Social media platforms also empower people to share their views, and this makes them ideal for gathering feedback. By conducting short surveys and opinion polls in these spaces, you are actively listening to existing and potential customers. Regularly sharing content, engaging with customers, and monitoring their comments are also practical ways of gaining valuable insights into what you’re doing right—as well as what you aren’t.
Time is of the essence
Speed is one of the most important factors in tackling your detractors. With this in mind, you should have a robust system in place that allows you to respond to negative feedback as soon as possible. The more responsive you are and the sooner you take care of a complaint, the better chance you have of damage limitation. You have probably witnessed the consequences when a company hasn’t heeded this advice. For example:
An unhappy customer has complained publicly on Twitter because their numerous emails to a customer service department went unanswered for weeks. Others are outraged on their behalf and begin to share the angry tweets. The criticism spreads and the business’s reputation takes a hit in the process. To avoid finding yourself in a similar situation, always aim to address complaints before they can escalate.
Keep calm and offer a solution
The next important factor is to respond appropriately and work towards a solution. Whether the interaction happens via email, phone, or on a social media platform like Twitter, there are a few steps you can follow to confidently take control when dealing with potential detractors:
- Listen. Unhappy customers want to be heard, so listen carefully to their feedback and give them the room to vent their frustrations. After all, you can’t offer the best solution if you don’t understand the problem.
- Remain calm and reassuring. It can be difficult to remain calm in the face of a very angry customer, but by remaining cool and non-defensive you are better able to defuse difficult situations. Don’t be too cool, however— you need to find the perfect balance between professional and personable. Remember that you are dealing with real human beings, so behaving robotically is not advised!
- Apologise and be empathetic. Acknowledging that a customer is unhappy is important. Even if you don’t necessarily agree with the nature of the complaint, it will still be pacifying to offer sincere empathy.
- Offer a solution. If your customer’s complaint is valid, agree to remedy the situation and do whatever is necessary to repair both the problem and the relationship. Ensure that you are both happy with the resolution.
- But what if you disagree? If you don’t agree with a complaint or it is not in your power to offer the customer’s desired solution, you should calmly explain your reasoning. If possible, it is a good idea to try and change the direction of the conversation or offer an alternative solution:
E.g. “I’m very sorry about this misunderstanding. As your purchase is now outside the 30 day return period, I can’t offer a refund. I can, however, offer you 20% off your next purchase with us!”
- Follow up. If you want to go the extra mile, you can follow up with a customer after the interaction, checking that they are happy with the solution provided. This is a great way to try and rebuild relationships and show your customers that you value them.
Rather than becoming disheartened by negative feedback, remind yourself that an unhappy customer is also a valuable learning opportunity. The grievances raised by potential detractors can often be an indication that there is room for improvement in your business. Therefore, by identifying a solution for the individual, you are identifying a way you can refine and enhance your offering.
Anticipate negative feedback before it happens
Sometimes businesses make mistakes that can impact a number of customers at once. While these scenarios are undesirable, you can worry less about an influx of detractors if you’re swift and smart. How? Address the issue before they can.
You’ve probably seen this type of scenario play out in your own inbox: a clothing company sends out an email about a 24-hour discount code—but the code fails to work. In anticipation of a flood of negative feedback, they swiftly follow up with a new code and extend the length of the offer to 48 hours. Unhappy customers are appeased, and they may even gain new customers in the process. Result!
Customer care is about listening
Ultimately, you want to let your customers know you are listening. To learn more about how you can use survey software to tackle detractors, get in touch with us here at Netigate. From customer service to churn management, our surveys can help you understand how to keep your customers satisfied.
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