How to Turn Bad Feedback into Good

Posted by Martina Mercer 11 Apr 14

When ecommerce began, customer care was way down the list of priorities. Many retailers assumed their current offline systems would be able to handle any extra workload. This assumption is of course natural, as ecommerce was championed for removing the face to face contact giving people an anonymous way to buy instantly online, so why would they need customer care?


In the beginning shoppers were so delighted with being able to order online that they rarely noticed this absence, but as technology improved, eTailers raised the bar and we entered a state where 30% of shopping is done online. It’s now expected as standard.

There’s also nowhere for the retailer to hide. Customers have a voice, and unlike a decade ago their complaint won't disappear so easily. Bad customer care costs some companies millions, as competition is fierce and it can be the deciding factor that rules a consumer’s choice.

Everyone knows the basics, the service with a smile, the customer’s always right and delivering that little bit extra to retain loyalty - but is there anything else you should be doing to ensure your customer care is the best it can be online?

Here are some tips to help you benefit from negative feedback.

Google Yourself

Every business knows the importance of Googling themselves. You need to set up alerts so anytime your brand is mentioned, your products or even the names of your managers, you receive notification instantly. You should know about every reference to your company made online, good or bad and you should have some active part in each discussion.

Don’t just search Google, search Twitter, review sites and social media. It’s unfortunate but true that a customer is more likely to mention you if they’re unhappy with your service and so you need to ensure you make them smile again.

Convert the Opportunity

Bad feedback doesn’t have to mean the end for your company or a product. It can actually start a conversation that allows you to convince the customer (and a wider audience) that you really do care about their satisfaction. While bad feedback can be broadcast far and wide, so can a great response to a complaint, to leverage the power and reach of the net to your advantage. If you do this well, your complainer will turn into an ambassador for your brand. See every complaint as an opportunity!

  • Hold Your Hand Up

Admit you or a member of your team has made a mistake. Let the customer know you’re not perfect and their feedback has opened your eyes to flaws in your current service.

  • Apologise

Say sorry. You can apologise for the faulty product. You can apologise for the bad customer care or you can even apologise for the way they feel about your service. Just as long as the word “sorry” is there.

  • Ask for Advice

One of the best ways to encourage customer loyalty is to make the customer feel as if they have a say in how your company is run. Ask them how they would have liked the service to be, what they would have done differently and the outcomes they would like to see.

  • Compensate

Almost every customer that complains does so because they expect some form of compensation. Be it a refund, a voucher or free passes, they are expecting compensation for the way you’ve made them feel. Of course, too many refunds or free gifts can impact on profits, but if you offer the right reward you could bring a disgruntled customer back to your brand.  This could also give you another chance to show that their experience was a one off.

  • Keep in Touch

It’s tempting to forget all about a disgruntled customer once you seem to have won them back, but as they’ve complained before, it won’t take much for them to complain again. Keep in touch, send offers, ask them if there’s anything they’d like to improve, you can even add them to a mailing list for customer satisfaction surveys to reinforce the notion that you value their honest opinion.

Look and Listen

Prevention is always better than cure, and there are ways you can prevent bad feedback. One of which is by becoming a customer yourself.

Pick out your three major competitors and shop with them online. Note any small irritations, such as clunky checkout processes, lack of information, and compare these against your own. Experience the whole service, from ordering to delivery to contacting for extra support or advice and note anything that you believe could make you a happier customer.

If you find yourself very satisfied at the end of the process, learn from your competitors and ensure your own service is just as smooth.


Of course every move you make must provide a good return, so don’t forget to track your performance. This can also give great insights into areas that may be putting people off while highlighting the areas where you are getting it right.


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