How to see Negative Feedback in a Positive Light

Posted by martin.parnell |

Everyone loves a happy customer and the way we know if a customer is happy is from feedback. This may come in the form of written feedback, a passing comment or just the fact that they come back and use your company over and over again. We all love positive feedback, apart from making us feel good, it lets us know we’re on the right path and we’re doing things well and this is especially pleasing if it comes from customers. 

After all, we all strive to give our best and we know that a happy customer will most likely stay with you and give you repeat business. 

However, even in a perfect world, you really can’t please all of the people all of the time and nobody likes having an unhappy customer. The good thing is, if you are made aware of a reason why a customer is less than happy, at least it gives you the opportunity to do something about it. 

Complaints from customers should not be ignored, but dealt with as quickly as possible. It’s better to nip things in the bud rather than let them fester and grow into something that becomes a greater issue. 

Also, they should be used to identify areas in your business that might be improved. Of course, some complaints may seem trivial, but to the persons making them they are of importance. Peoples’ standards vary and what may seem perfectly acceptable practice to one, may not be to another. 

Bill Gates, Co-Founder of MICROSOFT, once said “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”. 

We should learn not to be afraid of a complaint and see it as a sign that we are failing, but be glad that a customer has taken the time to make their feelings known. They could so easily just take their business elsewhere and you would be none the wiser as to the reason why. If a customer complains, it is probably a sign that they wish to continue using your services but in one particular instance they are not happy with your product or service. 

If you do receive a complaint, try not to become defensive, rather, thank the customer for bringing the issue to your attention. If you do receive a complaint, ensure that colleagues, employees and your immediate boss are aware that there has been an issue, this will be valuable information that they too can act upon. It would not look good if the same issues kept arising. 

If you resolve an issue with a customer, do make a point of checking back with them, at a later date, to ensure they were fully satisfied with the outcome. It’s a good idea to have a process by which customers can offer feedback, both positive and negative. You might like to have a space on your website or send out emails to customers asking for their degree of satisfaction with your product and service. 

Some people can be reluctant to complain and so you might consider doing an anonymous customer survey. This will give them the opportunity to give honest feedback without any embarrassment. It may mean that you cannot resolve issues on a personal level, but at least it may bring to your attention certain issues that you were unaware of and enable you to rectify them. It could be that several people will raise the same issues. 

We all see our businesses in a certain light and we hope our customers see us in the same way. It’s important that we make every effort to ensure that is the case and customer feedback can go a long way to making that happen.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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