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Ignoring customer feedback

“If you don’t ask you don’t get” is a popular phrase used to guide people towards getting something they want. A pay rise, a better parking spot or even some constructive criticism are more likely to come to those that ask for them than those that sit and wait for it to come to them. Yet when it comes to customer feedback many businesses refuse to ask because of one major fear: getting bad feedback

One could argue that no feedback is bad feedback, as it provides a chance to learn and improve, but we all know what that phrase really means. It means receiving feedback that’s less than positive and no-one wants to hear negative comments directed at them. There’s actually an interesting phenomenon around this called the Negativity Bias.

Negativity Bias is explained best by the Neilsen Norman Group which outlines the phenomenon as “the tendency for humans to pay more attention or give more weight to negative experiences over neutral or positive experiences. Even when negative experiences are inconsequential, humans tend to focus on the negative.” This can mean two things for a business seeking feedback.

  1. That they’re more likely to receive negative feedback than positive as customers suffering from negativity bias will focus on the failings rather than successes
  2. That business owners will focus on the few negative comments they receive over the positive ones due to their own negativity bias

This fear of receiving negative feedback can also be enhanced when you’re more personally connected to the satisfaction of customers.

If you’re a small to a medium-sized business owner the experience customers have matters on a different level to a large corporate. You care about the people who choose to do business with you and if they didn’t enjoy their contact with your company you feel personally responsible. In larger organisations, it’s easier to become disconnected from the customer. The complaint will originate from the actions of a different department and while you work for the company you aren’t the company so it’s easier to disassociate with the feelings people have towards it.

Schrödinger’s review

Some readers of this article may be familiar with Schrödinger’s cat, the thought experiment popularised following a discussion between Erwin Schrödinger and Albert Einstein used to explain a state known as quantum superposition. I know what you’re thinking, this is a blog about customer feedback, what could theoretical physics have to say about gathering customer feedback? Schrödinger presented a hypothetical situation where a theoretical cat in a box could be both alive and dead. The derived principle being that the status of the cat within the box is both alive and dead until the box is opened and the cat’s grip on mortality is ascertained.

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A similar, if slightly tenuous, thread can be drawn from the act of asking for feedback. If you don’t ask then the feedback can be both good and bad, but if you ask it might definitely be bad.

Unlike Schrödinger’s cat, the evidence is there to be measured even if you’re not looking. It’s easier than ever for customers to post their feedback publicly, sometimes without the business owner ever seeing it. This is especially the case if the business owner isn’t looking for fear of seeing something bad.

Google reviews, Facebook recommendations and even comments in a forum are all places where customers can advocate for your business, or share their negative experiences.

Ignoring negative comments

The internet isn’t always a place for this with thin skin. ‘Trolls’ and ‘keyboard warriors’ waiting around every corner to pounce on the unsuspecting it can seem like a scary place to bare your soul and ask for feedback. The risks seem so much higher than the rewards.

That’s partly why we created Review Tui. It encourages businesses to ask for feedback on a platform that’s private while streamlining the ease with which happy customers can leave a public review on a platform that’s monitored and approved. This can include a Facebook page or a Google My Business page, either way, it’s the kind of place you’d want positive comments to go. Our hope is that, by offering a way for businesses to ask for negative feedback in an isolated and private manner that businesses might be encouraged to ask for it more freely and learn to deal with it in a constructive way before it becomes an internet shouting match.

The fact remains that if someone has a bad experience with your business they will find a way to make their voice heard. If you don’t proactively give them a place to vent they will go on your Facebook page, find your Google My Business profile or find you on any other platform to share their experience.

By using a system like Review Tui, you can ‘head them off at the pass’ and intercept their negative comments before they go public. Not in an attempt to silence the critics, but to mend the broken bridges before it goes too far.

It may not seem like it at the time but every complaint is an opportunity to provide a mind-blowing service experience that turns a detractor into a promoter. In fact, has outlined the key attributes to a customer service experience that can win over an unhappy customer and win you over new ones.

  1. Respond immediately - speed is key to winning back an unhappy customer
  2. Reflect, validate and empathise - be human in your response and treat the customer like one too
  3. Fix the problem - don’t wait for the customer to tell you what you can do to fix it, make a suggestion
  4. Listen - sometimes all the customer wants is to feel heard
  5. Discover where things went wrong - so you can stop it from happening again to someone else
  6. Remain calm - it’s amazing how many volatile situations can be de-escalated with a level head
  7. Take it offline - it’s always good to encourage some form of human-to-human dialogue. Over the phone is best but make it easy for them to talk if they want

If you want to hear the good comments customers have but are nervous about the bad then using Review Tui can enable you to ask, learn and measure without the worry that someone will go ballistic on you in a public manner. However, if the person gives you their constructive criticism and they don’t hear back from you then expect them to take it to a public place in an attempt to really get your attention.

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