Ever feel like your customer feedback is being dismissed or ignored? Can negative comments be transformed into something that propels growth and change? In our latest episode, we tackle these questions and more. Discover how creating an effective action plan, gaining support from leaders and teams, and utilizing technology can transform negative feedback into actionable tasks. We examine the power of prioritization in addressing persistent issues and underscore the value of viewing criticism as an opportunity for improvement rather than a personal affront.
But the conversation doesn't end there. We dive deeper into the steps you can take to handle negative feedback in a way that not only provides a solution but also enhances the overall customer experience. We emphasize the importance of respectful acknowledgment, an authentic apology, clear communication about resolution efforts, offering compensation, and demonstrating commitment through follow-up. Learn how negative feedback can be a catalyst for process improvements, employee training, and product enhancements. As we wrap up, we explore the profound impact of a mindset shift, and how establishing the right strategy and tools can lead to an optimum customer experience. Tune in and gain valuable insights to better understand your customers, their experiences, and how to turn criticism into positive change.
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Experience Action. Let's stop just talking about customer experience, employee experience and the experience of leaders. Let's turn ideas into action. Your host, jeannie Walters, is an award-winning customer experience expert, international keynote speaker and founder of Experience Investigators, a strategic consulting firm helping companies increase sales and customer attention through elevated customer experiences. Ready Set action, hey everyone.Jeannnie Walters:
It's Jeannie Walters, and I am here with you as a fellow customer experience professional to create fewer ruined days for customers. We have a great question about when we actually might be responding to ruining those days. Let's go ahead and get started.Listener Question:
Hi, jeannie. I am a CX leader in the financial industry who is working on a voice of the customer program. I've been very focused on collecting feedback, but I keep running into barriers when trying to put it into action. What strategies do you suggest around turning negative feedback into a positive experience? Thank you, Alright.Jeannnie Walters:
This, I think, is the crux of so many customer experience professionals frustration.MC:
This is so frustrating.Jeannnie Walters:
They are tasked with collecting a lot of feedback. So we diligently collect that feedback, we share it out to the organization, we share it with our leaders and we say, hey, you know, there's a complaint here that we should address. And everybody kind of looks around the room and thinks, yeah, we probably should, but there's nothing to do with it. So we hear that complaint again and again and again. It can be incredibly frustrating because obviously something is not going well for the customer, which is supposedly why we're collecting this feedback. But if you find yourself collecting feedback just to report out on metrics, be aware that you might be turning into what I call a number narrator. This is where the sole position of the customer experience role is really to be there to talk about the good metrics. Oh look, our customer satisfaction rate went up. Our NPS is holding study. That doesn't actually do anything to move your organization forward and it actually doesn't do anything to improve the experience unless you have a plan. So today we're going to discuss how to take action on that negative customer feedback. You know the kind of feedback that sometimes makes you cringe or even angry when you read it or hear it from a customer. But you know negative feedback is actually not the end of the world. It's actually the beginning of a journey. It can be a great opportunity to improve your products, services and internal processes and, frankly, responding and reacting and acting on negative feedback shows your customers that you care and listen. But you need a plan. If you gather feedback just because people are curious and this happens all the time leaders come to us and say will you add this question to your survey? Will you go ahead and make sure we have a metric around how people feel about our coat rack at the restaurant and really we do that because we're curious, because maybe we just are looking for you know what is the response. But if you don't have an action plan for what happens, if you get negative feedback there, then you're wasting your time and the customer's time. So do not ask a question, do not gather feedback unless you know what you're going to do. So before you add that question or request even more feedback from an angry customer, ask what will we do next and who needs to be involved. I like to approach feedback as a strategy that goes alongside your customer journey. Each time we ask for feedback, it's an opportunity for customer engagement, but we have to treat it that way. We have to respect it as part of the customer journey, not something that's separate from it, and we have to look ahead. Now some feedback, unfortunately usually the negative kind. Everything here sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks. 잘 OFFERED PROACTIVELY FROM CUSTOMERS. They want you to KNOW how disappointed they are. So they let you know, don't they? Yeah, by calling customer service, fill in form online or cayre it publicly via social media. These customers can be easy to label as quote, unquote, difficult, but really they are super passionate about your brand. They are telling you how disappointed they are because they felt so dedicated or loyal or just happy, and now they're not. They need you to know. Listen to me. Listen to me. Listen to me. These customers could be the best kind to win back. So think of your approach to negative feedback in both an organizational and an individual way. We're gonna tackle both here Two for the price of one. Organizationally, know what you can do before you collect the feedback. Get buy-in from leaders and different teams that are involved, and understand who needs to be involved, what processes need to be activated. Have a plan and a process for escalating issues and closing the loop with the customer, because negative feedback may not always be easy to hear, but it provides valuable insights into areas of improvement. It's essential for everybody to understand and adopt a mindset that views negative feedback as an opportunity for growth rather than a personal attack. By actively listening to and acknowledging negative feedback, our businesses and organizations can gain a deeper understanding of our customers' pain points and develop targeted solutions. When we, as an organization, are analyzing negative feedback, we wanna look for patterns and trends, so we need to categorize and organize feedback based on common themes. We can identify recurring issues and prioritize efforts to solve those issues, and this analysis can be done manually based on where you are in your customer experience journey with your organization, or there are plenty of wonderful customer feedback analysis tools that use artificial intelligence, for example, to identify the key themes, the sentiment, the emotional state of what people are telling you when along their journey. Take advantage of those tools. Now we also wanna leverage technology for actionable insights because we wanna make sure we are transforming what we hear into activities that we do. So these tools that are available, they can analyze large volumes of customer feedback. So, looking at your survey responses, social media comments or customer service interactions, we want to identify what are the topics, what are the trends, what is the sentiment that people are really sharing with us. By leveraging this, we can get a more comprehensive understanding of our customer experience and again prioritize where we need to put our efforts. You know, negative feedback often highlights areas where existing processes and policies are simply not working or falling short. So by analyzing this feedback, we can identify opportunities to either supplement processes that aren't working, find some work arounds sometimes, or implement new process and policies that address these pain points. For example, if customers consistently complain about long wait times for customer support, businesses can streamline their support processes to reduce response times and improve how customers feel. That could include things like you know, can we give them more self-service options on our digital channels? Can we refer them to certain knowledge bases? Can we actually ask them to leave us a voicemail and get back to them specifically when it's important? There are so many ways that we create processes and policies that don't work for customers and we ignore the feedback that's telling us that, simply because we're dedicated to the process and not the customer journey. It's about customer care. Really, as a customer experience professional, our job is to advocate for customers. Negative feedback and responding to it is a great way we can do that. When we are looking at, you know the big picture here. Don't forget we can use this information also to empower our employees. This might shed light, this negative feedback. It might shed light on areas where employees may need additional training or need that knowledge base at their fingertips. So we need to invest in ongoing training programs that equip employees with the right knowledge and the right learning and the right skills to really deliver customer experiences that we're proud of.Listener Question:
Well, at least I didn't suck at customer relations.Jeannnie Walters:
So, by empowering employees to handle these challenging situations that will come up, we will be able to provide them with the necessary tools and we can ensure that this negative feedback is addressed effectively and efficiently. So, even if we can't solve the problem, what can we do to prepare the employees that will hear about it? What can we do to improve the communications that go back to the customer? And that leads me to my other point here about we need to make sure that we are incorporating feedback into areas like our product development cycle, our customer communications, our marketing all of these areas that sometimes we silo away from the customer feedback. Ok, everyone, let's get to work. If we can create coalitions with different teams and share this feedback directly, that will provide really valuable insights for product development, innovation, making sure that we are responding to what businesses are facing in the real world. If we're in B2B, as the market shifts all of those things Businesses can really make sure that our offerings are keeping up with customer needs and expectations. You can supplement this negative feedback that you get by zeroing in on what you want to improve and then make sure you have a plan to either test your improvement or follow up on that feedback again and see if you've made a difference. So this is where you might want to incorporate things like user testing or gathering feedback on prototypes, or just really leveraging things like your customer advisory board to gather that input throughout a development process. And then we also want to make sure at the organizational level that we are gauging the effectiveness of the actions that we've taken in response to negative feedback. This can be done by testing before and after the improvement is made and seeing what changed there. Did the scores go up? Were customers happier? Did they complain less? Did they call in less? All of those things can be measured. And then, at the end of the day, we want to make sure collecting negative feedback and acting on it is something that is just part of our culture of continuous improvement. We need to strive for this. We need to innovate around experience. So we need to really encourage people to look at feedback as something that we seek out, we welcome and we use it to drive ongoing enhancements. That type of culture is what will foster innovation, being customer-centric and really long-term business success. So that's organizationally, but individually, when you get negative feedback, you have one person who is feeling bad about their relationship with your brand. I don't like it. Something went wrong. We didn't live up to the promise. We did not live up to the customer experience mission. So what this means is that we need to shift gears and think about what do we need to do for that individual? Because if we only address things at the macro level, we are missing an opportunity to possibly retain a customer at the very least have some sort of closure over the issue with them and possibly even turn them around to a very loyal customer. So, individually, think about what a complaining customer really wants. The first thing they need is to feel heard and acknowledged. So first, acknowledge the feedback and thank the customer for sharing their opinion. Even if you disagree with what they said or think they are being unfair, you should always show respect and appreciation. Remember that when they're complaining, that is a gift. They are letting you know because they are passionate about their relationship. Otherwise they would just walk away. So remember they are giving you a chance to fix the problem and win them back. Second, apologize for any inconvenience or dissatisfaction they experienced. We cannot make excuses or blame others. We just want to express empathy and potentially, regret If you look at what they're complaining about and think that shouldn't have happened. Go ahead and say that. Try to use words like I'm sorry, I understand and I apologize. If we say things like we're sorry, we understand and we apologize, that makes it a little less personal. And then, third, we want to explain what we're going to do to address the issue and prevent it from happening again. Be specific and realistic about the actions you are taking and the timeline you are following. Please don't promise things you can't deliver, or overpromise and underdeliver, just to make the problem worse. When appropriate, offer some compensation or incentive to make up for their negative experience, like a discount, a freebie or a refund. Now, this doesn't have to be done every time, and if this becomes the knee-jerk reaction of your customer support agents, then something's going wrong and you need to figure out what the root cause is that's creating all of those refunds or discounts. And be careful here. This is especially true for small business. Be careful of meaningless gifts, like swag with your company name on it when they're unhappy with the company. Or I've also had this happen where you get like the CEO's book. If you are unhappy with the organization and the brand, then sending something like that just puts salt in the wound. Why would they want a coffee mug with a brand that they don't like right now? So be careful about what you do for that retribution. Don't make it worse. And then the most important possibly thing is to follow up with the customer and update them on the progress and outcome of your actions. Please don't leave them hanging or forget about them. Show them that you are committed to resolving the issue and improving how they feel. Ask them for their feedback again and see if they are happy with the results, and if not, we need to keep going and closing that loop. Negative feedback is a valuable resource for businesses to drive improvements and deliver exceptional customer experiences. By actively listening to and analyzing negative feedback and leveraging the technology that helps us do that at the macro level, we can implement process changes, train employees, close the loop with customers and incorporate feedback into the product and process development cycle. And when we do this, we want to make sure that we're measuring the impact of that and fostering a culture of continuous improvement. But we cannot forget about the individual customer when we're doing all of that work at the higher level. We have to remember that each person who reaches out with a complaint is feeling bad, we're doing something that might be ruining their day. We've all had these experiences as customers where we've had to call back again and again and again because we feel forgotten, we feel neglected, we feel like we don't matter. So I really encourage you to remember all the time, and sometimes we need to write ourselves notes, we need to give ourselves affirmations, whatever it is, because it can be hard to hear this stuff, but we need to embrace negative feedback as an opportunity for growth and really a catalyst for success. And when we do this well, we can ask ourselves is this negative feedback telling us a way that we are not living up to our customer experience mission? What can we do about that? It becomes a really powerful question and it becomes another way to build those coalitions within your organization so that you can make the real changes that customers are asking for. This was a fantastic question and I'm so pleased that we had a chance to really go into what it takes to respond to negative feedback. I know it's not always easy to hear, but it's so important. Now for anybody listening who is one of those leaders who maybe doesn't have the support that you're looking for. You're looking for how to get more buy-in, how to put more structure around your customer experience program. I encourage you to check out our CXI Flight School program now. This is part classwork, part group coaching, part workshopping individually with you, and it's to set you up for success. So our applications are open now. Check them out at cxiflightschool. com. I would love to have you join us because we are getting some wonderful feedback from our founding flyers the first group that is going through this and it's all about shifting mindsets, making sure you have the right strategy and then setting you up with the tools and best practices you need to deliver on a business discipline around customer experience. So, again, cxiflightschool. com, and if you have any questions, you can always find us at experienceinvestigators. com or ask your own question to me here for the podcast at speakpipecom/ Action experience action. Thank you so much for all that you do and keep fighting the good fight for your customers. I will talk to you next week. To learn more about our strategic approach to experience. Check out free resources experienceinvestigators. com at experienceinvestigatorscom, where you can sign up for our newsletter, our year of CX program, and more. And please follow Jeannie, jeannie Walters, on LinkedIn.