Business

Council Post: Nine Ways To Handle Customer Critique (And Not Take It Personally)

With the advent of social media, companies are now closer than ever to their buyers’ feedback. However, these buyers may or may not be charitable with their opinions. Occasionally, a business may encounter a consumer who wasn’t happy with their experience or the product itself.

It can sometimes be difficult, though, for a business owner to separate their personal feelings from the criticism of the brand. For some tips on how to deal with this issue, nine members of Young Entrepreneur Council look at how businesses can avoid taking customer criticism personally and extract the necessary feedback to grow and improve.

1. Talk About It Sooner Rather Than Later

If it’s bothering you, don’t let it fester. Talk about it. Otherwise, it’ll stick around in your mind and bother you throughout the day and will have a detrimental impact on your productivity. If you have a confidante with whom you can share your feelings of frustration, you’ll allow the feelings to get out and eventually pass. Plus, your friend or colleague might be able to point out something you’re failing to see about the situation to show you why you shouldn’t be so upset. – Tyler Gallagher, Regal Assets

2. Step Away Before Responding

As a business owner, it’s easy to take reviews or comments personally. If you feel hot about a comment, it’s always best to step away from the computer or phone instead of responding immediately. You don’t want to respond emotionally; you want to respond with understanding and respect toward your client. By taking a step back and letting the comment marinate in your mind, you can be level-headed and empathetic with your response as well as express appreciation for the feedback. You can also use negative reviews to fuel and improve your business. Maybe the client has a valid point—something can be improved. Remember that it’s not personal; it’s business. – Nick Friedman, College Hunks Hauling Junk & Moving

3. Decide If The Criticism Has Merit

No one likes bad reviews or harsh criticism, but in some cases they can be useful for pointing out areas where you need to make changes. First of all, you have to determine that the customer is speaking in good faith and not simply trolling. There are also going to be customers you can’t please no matter what. Consider the criticism and honestly decide if it has merit. If there’s a real issue with your product or service, you should place your attention on solving the problem. Focus on the actual steps you need to take to address the situation. This could mean dealing with an individual customer or making more fundamental changes to your product or customer service. – Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

4. Be Grateful For The Valuable Insight

Every customer interaction is an opportunity to shine. Negative feedback, when constructive, can be very valuable information for a business. First off, you inspired enough passion or disappointment to have someone take the time out of their day and actually write about their experience with your company. Now, depending on whether it is coming from pure frustration or malice, you can go in two directions. Address the problem honestly and thank the person for providing insight into their experience so you can improve. You can also determine whether the review or comment was posted because the person is trying to harm your company. If it was the first, it is a sign and an opportunity to improve your products or services and that is all that matters at the end of the day. – Terry Tateossian, Socialfix Media

5. Humanize The Reviewer

It’s important to humanize the person who left the negative feedback. We have to remember that the person who was unhappy with our work could have had stressors that had nothing to do with us. Also, it’s important to give weight to the reviewer’s feelings and experiences in order to be more empathetic. This is not easy at all, but with some effort and practice, you’ll be able to see the point of view of the person who left the review. From there, you can reach out and try to fix the problem. You can also decide that this is a case where you can’t please everyone, and because of this, you need to write this off as an unpleasant but unavoidable experience. – Blair Williams, MemberPress

6. Be Analytical, Not Emotional

Being an entrepreneur means being able to manage your own emotions like an adult. It means having the sense to ignore trolls maturely, yet also learn from honest criticism. Remember, when someone rejects your idea or product, it might feel like they are rejecting you, but they are not. Be analytical about their response, not emotional. All feedback is an opportunity to learn and grow. – Tyler Bray, TK Trailer Parts

7. Understand That It’s Not Directed At You

First, understand that the bad review or comment is about your business or product or service and not you personally. That can be a tough needle to thread, but you can do it if you make a conscious effort. Next, respond to it so you can get more details and hopefully find a solution, which normally you can do. Plus, when you respond, you just might find that the commenter wasn’t as mad or upset as you thought they were, and that they were just reacting in the moment. Finally, try to learn something from the experience. If the negative review or comment can help you find a way to better run your business, that’s proof right there that the comment wasn’t directed at you. – Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

8. Keep A Sense Of Perspective

If you find a negative review starting to affect you personally, it’s best to keep a sense of perspective on its scale. Odds are, your positive reviews vastly outnumber the negative reviews you receive, and any individual negative comment or review shouldn’t be seen as a representative sample of you, your product or your company. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t take negative reviews seriously, however. Take the time to understand where the customer is coming from and get to the bottom of the problem so that it won’t happen again. Always treat negative reviews as learning experiences, but don’t let one or two negative comments defeat you in the presence of countless positive ones. – Jordan Conrad, Writing Explained

9. Remember You Aren’t The Only One

Resist the urge to immediately react. Instead, take solace in the fact that many of the most successful business leaders (actually, probably all of them) have had tons of critics stand in their way. The upside is that you don’t have to let them block your path. You can move forward knowing that criticism is a natural aspect of entrepreneurship. Over time, you’ll integrate criticisms into your products and services and will create a better customer experience for it. Dealing with criticisms is merely part and parcel of owning a business and never meant to be taken personally. Remember, they’re not critiquing you, they’re critiquing your company. It’s important to remember that we’re separate from our businesses, as hard as that may seem at times. – Amine Rahal, IronMonk Solutions

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