Ask Ian: How do I Recover From a Customer’s Online Public Complaint?

August 13, 20185min

Customer Experience specialist Ian Golding, author of new book Customer What: The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience, writes for Customer Experience Magazine, offering his expert insight to help businesses improve their CX offering. 

To ask Ian a question on how to boost the Customer Experience provided by YOUR business, please email your question to editor@cxm.world. The best questions will be featured in future instalments.

Ian also leads the CX Professional Masterclass. Click here for details of upcoming Masterclass dates.

‘I’m a business owner and unfortunately a customer has had a negative experience with me and is telling others about it online. Is there anything I can do to rectify this situation and prevent my brand being damaged further?’

One of the wonderful things about the world we live in today is the fact that everything and anything is so accessible.

From products and services, information and knowledge, to entertainment – we can do almost everything at the click of a button. From a consumer perspective, this accessibility has made it ever easier for us to be able to both get and give ‘feedback’ about all of these ‘things’ (products, services, information, knowledge, and entertainment).

To a supplier of ‘things’ – whether it be online or offline – the customers’ ability to share their thoughts with a global audience can be hugely positive. However, the opposite is also true. Unwittingly, Google, Amazon, Facebook et al, have turned consumers into ‘content marketers’.

It only takes one positive review or placement of feedback for a brand, product, or service to receive significant commercial benefit. That being said, one irritated customer – even if their irritation is unfounded – can have a hugely detrimental effect on commercial performance and brand perception as a whole.

Even the most customer-centric of organisations will get things wrong – they are not immune to customers leaving negative feedback in a public environment. What defines these organisations is how they respond to negative feedback, even if it is not warranted.

The key to dealing with negative feedback is your ability to leave your customer remembering the way you dealt with the recovery, rather than the thing that went wrong in the first place.

To rectify a situation where negative feedback has been given, it is essential to be open, transparent, and honest.

Think about doing the following:

  1. Acknowledge their feedback and THANK them for taking the time to give it
  2. Reassure them that you will work hard to address their concerns – you always do
  3. Encourage them to continue the conversation ‘offline’. Ask them to email you, suggesting that if they leave their contact details, you will get back to them
  4. Close the loop by adding further comment to their original online feedback confirming that the matter has been addressed – in other words, close the loop
  5. NEVER try to suggest the customer is wrong – even if they are!
  6. NEVER try to delete negative customer feedback

The more you engage with both positive and negative feedback, the more consumers will believe that you are sincere about wanting to act on it.


Ian Golding

Ian Golding

A highly influential freelance Customer Experience consultant, Ian advises leading companies on Customer Experience strategy, measurement, improvement and employee advocacy techniques and solutions. He has worked across multiple industries including retail, financial services, logistics, telecoms and pharmaceuticals and has deployed Customer Experience tools and methodologies all over the world. Ian is an internationally renowned speaker and blogger on the subject of customer experience ijgolding.com who served on the inaugural board of Directors of the CXPA (Customer Experience Professionals Association). In 2014, Ian officially became a Certified Customer Experience Professional, currently being on the UK Board of Ambassadors for the CXPA. Ian is also a regular judge at the UK Customere Experience Awards




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