Negative Customer Feedback: Our first hand experience


Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you’re running a business, you’re bound to run into a negative customer feedback of your service. Never fear, I’m outlining 4 simple steps to turn around a bad customer experience.

Extreme experiences cause customers to rate service. 15% and 47% of Yelp’s 142M ratings are ones and fives, respectively. One star ratings are as disappointing as they are inevitable. If you get a bad rating, don’t panic. Follow these four simple steps to rebound from negative customer feedback and set your business up for customer service success.




4 steps for improving on negative customer feedback

 #1. Prioritize your favorites

While all customer feedback is a gift and should be reviewed, not all 1-star ratings demand a follow-up. Reviews from customers who frequent your establishment, been with you the longest or spend more money than others should carry more weight. The level of constructive feedback will also determine your time investment in follow up. And of course, if the feedback is around mission-critical functions in your business like a product malfunction, safety, privacy and security, then its “hair on fire” time. Aside from those types of feedback, often the trick is in picking up on the right nuances. Here are examples that will help provide clues on whether you will receive useful return on your time:


Likely constructive feedback:

“I don’t think he [read] my email carefully. I told him I ordered 5 units and have only received 1 unit so far. There is tracking id for 2 units, but the other tracking number does not display any info. The other 3 units have no info at all. He told me to wait??? Poor answer. I would like the refund of the pending 4 units ASAP. Thanks”


This is a customer who wants to the status of their deliveries and felt that the rep that originally responded to their inquiry missed the mark. You should review the exchange between the customer service rep and this customer to see what points the rep may have missed or needed to “read between the lines” to gather. Leverage this as a learning opportunity to review key things to train your reps to look for in emails. Also, consider revisiting the operational flow that frustrated your customer — getting tracking ids. Maybe there’s something there that you can fix to prevent this frustration for future customers.


Likely unconstructive feedback and something that could spiral out of control:

“Stop harassing me. You’ve done nothing but interrupt and ruin my day with your incessant communications.” (Sentiment was there due to email marketing)


This customer does not want to get your messages anymore. If they continue to complain about receiving emails from your team, you can then offer to remove them from your listserv. Otherwise, don’t engage. Use this opportunity to review your communication plan with your team — what’s your communication touch point plan looking like? Is it going overboard?


#2. Empathize

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” — Theodore Roosevelt. First gauge your customer’s state of mind. It is quite likely that they are frustrated and hence not in the correct state to internalize your message. Validating and showing real sympathy for their emotions will get them closer to having a productive interaction with you.

“Providing the right empathy statement can change a customer’s mood and drastically affect sentiment.”

Question: “I recently placed an order for my child’s Christmas gift and I haven’t received any information about when it will be delivered. Christmas is only a few days away and I refuse to allow my child’s Christmas to be ruined.”


Ideal Answer: I definitely understand where you coming from and I’m more than happy to make sure you child has a great Christmas.


Problematic Answer: Thank you for reaching out about this issue and I will do what I can to get it resolved.


#3. Resolve quickly

Own it, do it quickly and be clear about expectations. You could achieve some redemption in the form of a saved customer and maybe even a revised review/rating. The online economy and new messaging mediums have significantly increased customer expectations on response time. You want to get to them before they repeat their story to friends and family. Ownership of the solution is so easily reflected in the nuances and tone of your response. We have seen many gratuitous responses that sabotage attempts to turn around a negative situation.


Truly owning the solution:

“We are disappointed that we did not deliver great service at your dinner party. I have personally checked and interviewed our staff, and found that five dishes were not prepared well. Additionally, one of our temporary staff members was insufficiently trained and delivered a subpar serving experience. We have corrected this, and won’t make the same mistakes going forward. I want to make this right by not collecting on the unpaid balance for the event. While this is not any substitute for a spoiled special event, I can only hope that you will give us another shot in the future.”


Clear Indifference:

“Hello. We apologize for the poor service, and wish you would have had a better experience. Attached is a coupon that you can use for the next time you want to use our service.”


While it may seem like you’re offering a great solution by offering something by giving the coupon, it is more a slap in the face because because your business did not make an effort to match the customer’s tone.


#4. Tackle the Root Cause

Now that you have all the information, how do you make your customer experience and business stronger for the future?

  • Prioritize. Follow your judgement based on who is providing the feedback, as well as frequency and repetition of issue
  • Organize. Tabulate the information in a logical manner and ensure communication with every employee who could potentially repeat the error
  • Close the loop. Fanatically follow up and ensure it doesn’t happen again

If customer service was easy, everyone would have a perfect 5-star rating. In order to please eager customers with high expectations, you need to be supported by an efficient, capable, and empathetic service team. Here at Simplr, we’re looking to partner with companies who want to humanize their customer service experience. We’re doing this by providing cost-effective customer service solutions to small business owners. Take a look at the above link to see what we can for you, and what our customers are saying about us.