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The benefits of negative feedback


by Michelle Denny
October 1, 2015
Customer relations

I don’t know about you, but I really love it when a customer takes the time to give feedback about the service my team has provided them, whether it’s good or bad.

Positive feedback may be the most pleasant to receive, but it’s actually the negative feedback that brings the most important benefits. Negative feedback provides valuable insight into where the team is falling short, and pinpoints the specific areas that need to be improved.



What does it mean?


Customer feedback generally falls into three categories:

  1. Positive feedback

  2. Silence

  3. Negative feedback


Positive feedback is usually an indication that you're keeping customers satisfied; it's a "keep doing what you’re doing". However, while we all appreciate praise when we’ve done something well, we live in a world where constant improvement and growth are not only the norm, but also the expectation.

A customer’s silence generally indicates a negative experience. Many customers won’t complain; rather than say anything to you, they will simply go elsewhere the next time they’re in need of the products or services you provide. The problem with silence is that you won’t have any idea of where you went wrong.

Negative feedback doesn’t feel great to receive, but it provides the most to work with. My experience has been that a customer will often be quite specific when providing negative feedback, pointing out all of the things that made them unhappy with our service.

So, what are the benefits of negative feedback?


Knowledge and growth


We don’t know what we don’t know, so when we’re told that we’ve not done something well, we can do something about it.  I tell my team that while positive feedback is great, it’s the negative feedback that helps us to grow the most - but this can happen only if the feedback is taken on board and something is done about it!

Improvements


It may be a matter of providing additional training to your team, or changing an internal process that clearly isn’t working. Whatever it is that you’ll need to do, the changes will be positive and those which you can implement and keep in place for the future.

Customer retention


Receiving negative feedback from a customer is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate your ability to respond appropriately to their concerns. By showing them that you’ve not only heard them, but that you’re also doing something to fix the issue, means that they are less likely to go elsewhere.

Regardless of whether you’re receiving positive or negative feedback from your customers, the information is valuable and should not be taken lightly. Use positive feedback as an indication of what you’re doing right and what you should keep doing, and use negative feedback as a guide to identify where you need to improve. Then start making those improvements, and you will find that your customers stay loyal instead of seeking a similar product or service elsewhere.
Author


Client Support Manager for the simPRO Group, and lover of life. Focused on driving the global support function towards customer service excellence.

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