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How to Handle Negative Client or Customer Feedback

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By: Charlotte Couch
Sep 9, 2020 • 7 min read

How to Handle Negative Client or Customer Feedback

Being able to manage your own clients and act as your own boss comes with a multitude of perks. You can set your work schedule. You don’t have to worry about pleasing a higher-up. But every once in a while, you are going to deal with an unhappy client. This can bruise anyone’s ego, and sometimes it can even be difficult to not take it personally. However, it is possible to turn this negative feedback around and make everyone happy in the end. Here’s how you can successfully handle negative customer feedback and turn the situation around into a more positive one.

customer feedback

1. Try to Practice Empathy

Empathy is an important skill, whether you are dealing with an unhappy client or attempting to sort out an issue with a friend. By putting yourself in their shoes, you can find better clarification into what they want and achieve a deeper understanding of their frustrations. This will, in turn, help you develop a product that your client will be happy with. Once you gain more clarity from seeing the situation from the client’s point of view, you can craft a professional response that addresses their concerns. Including phrases like “I understand your frustration” and “Thank you for reaching out about this issue” tells your client that you appreciate their feedback and are ready to address it.

2. Avoid Acting Defensively

It’s understandable if you feel defensive or even angry at your client. After all, you probably spend weeks — and even months — on the project only to get a negative response. But instead of lashing out or attacking them, you need to learn how to handle your anger healthily so you can come back with a clear mind. Some effective anger management techniques you can try include:

3. Make Sure You Listen Carefully to What They’re Saying

Active listening is a crucial skill when it comes to working with clients and customers. It allows you to build a trusting relationship with them and make them feel like they are being heard. When meeting them in person, you should try to maintain eye contact, pay attention to nonverbal behavior like their tone of voice and body language, and practice patience. Keeping your arms folded and avoiding contact can make you appear defensive or uninterested. Some people are tempted to formulate a question or response as the speaker continues to talk, but this can cause them to miss some key points.

4. Learn When it is Appropriate to Apologize

You might feel tempted to apologize immediately to subdue your customer’s frustration. But if you didn’t make any mistakes or you weren’t the prime factor behind the problem, you should think twice about apologizing. For some people, apologizing is an immediate reaction to a negative comment or critique. But always apologizing can reduce someone’s faith or trust in you. Your constant apologies might be a sign of weakness or incompetence in them. That being said, you should undoubtedly apologize when you are in the wrong. Whether you accidentally published the wrong social post for the day or missed a deadline, you should admit your mistake and apologize for the mistake. This will help you move forward and start to fix the problem.

customer feedback

5. Put the Feedback in Writing, so All Team Members are on the Same Page

As you listen to your client’s feedback, make sure you are taking detailed notes. Once the meeting is over, you can put it in an organized document for all relevant team members to review. You can also send a follow-up email after the meeting that reiterates all of the main talking points in the meeting. We recommend using the traditional pen and paper method for taking notes. Typing on a laptop can be distracting for people present in the meeting. It can also be distracting for you if you have numerous open tabs and an inbox that keeps piling up.

6. Know When to Walk Away

In extremely rare cases, you might need to consider whether or not this relationship is worth saving. Some clients are simply never happy with your work. Whether they have resorted to verbal harassment or crossed personal boundaries, these clients are not worth the headache. In this case, the best thing you can do is end the relationship and wish them the best. Dropping a client is never easy. Before you do it, you need to double-check the end date of your contract. It’s usually much more comfortable to let a contract run its course rather than cut it off when there is still time left on it.

How to Handle Feedback According to Specific Comments

Not sure how to address specific commons or critiques? Clients can sometimes be vague with their feedback. If you end up dealing with any of the below critiques, here’s how you can respond appropriately!

customer feedback

“This doesn’t match my vision.”

This is an incredibly vague statement that is difficult to work off of. Try asking specific questions about their opinion so you can achieve a better understanding of what they want. Together, you can create a product that everyone will be happy with.

“You shouldn’t have done this. You should have done *example* instead.”

With this critique, it’s important to take the reigns and explain why you chose what you did. After all, the client sought out your help because of your expertise and experience. Explaining why you made a choice can help clarify any confusion or misunderstanding they might have. However, if they are insistent on the change, it might be best to just take the L and do it for the sake of your own sanity.

Receiving negative feedback is never fun. Learning how to effectively address it can be challenging and might take some time. But the more you practice, the easier it will be for you to handle and manage it. How have you dealt with client issues in the past? Let us know on our social media accounts!

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