In addition to adequate funding and customers, a company’s image is equally important, experts say. How can such a small word hold so much power? Well, image may be an abstract concept. However, it represents the way you do business and defines your reason for existing in the face of customer opinion and judgments. This is why knowing how to respond to negative feedback from the public is nowadays mandatory.

Think about it. If a customer or client has a negative opinion of your business, they won’t come back. Those who have positive attitudes not only return but can become loyal. They might be the ones sticking around even if you raise prices, undergo personnel shifts, move facilities or alter the way you operate. Image is powerful, indeed. Which is why you need an arsenal of business practices to make sure you never sully yours.

The Power of Negative Feedback

In order to maintain a positive image and learn how to respond to negative feedback, it’s important to realize some aspects. Like indiscriminate conversation, negativity can originate in myriad ways. Here are some of them.

  • People reviewing your company on the Internet;
  • Word of mouth;
  • Dissatisfaction with a transaction or experience;
  • Rumor and innuendo;
  • Spokespeople with unsavory reputations;
  • Poor customer service;
  • Inferior or substandard products;
  • Failure to accept responsibility for negative customer experiences.

At the heart of each is a psychological reaction to being treated badly. It is common knowledge that bad always outweighs good. This is because there are more emotions tied to negative experiences than there are to positive ones. Keep that in mind as you master this art and learn how to respond to negative feedback.

Is Image Important For Every Business?

The answer is yes and building an image must be a priority. In some cases, business owners are so focused on opening their doors and attracting clients that they ignore their image. Some forget to nurture it over time as well.

Risk, reputation and image are relative:

  • What may destroy one business in a matter of days could have no effect on a competitor. This is if the entity has a strong image-protection ethos.
  • The point is that identifying vulnerabilities that compromise a business early is critical to learning how to respond to negative feedback.

3 defining Studies on How to Respond to Negative Feedback

Business Insider cites three defining studies on the power of corporate image that every company insider should read. Methodology and results paint a true portrait of behaviors that you can emulate.

  • When asked whether guests would stay at a Marriott Hotel again after a bad experience, as long as Marriott fixed the problem, 94-percent said they would return. When Marriott didn’t fix the problem, only 69-percent of guests said they might return.
  • John Goodman’s pioneering customer service study measured the emotional response of people when they felt wronged by a company. Only 4-percent of respondents in his study were comfortable filing a direct complaint. However, 96-percent said nothing but stopped buying from the company. Of this universe, those who would no longer patronize the business told between 9 and 10 other people about being badly treated.
  • According to Opinion Research, 87-percent of consumers prefer to deal with reputable companies. Moreover, when a firm is famous for treating customers like royalty, that business can become 25- to 85-percent more profitable, too!

Treating people nicely pays off as you also explore varying ways of how to respond to negative feedback.

6 Ways to Protect Your Company Image

We haven’t room enough to list every way you can protect your image and reputation from tarnishing. However, the following suggestions should get you started. The secret is to look at every exchange you undertake in the future and say: How will this impact our image? How to respond to negative feedback? Employ these 6 tips:

  1. Train employees to put the customer first, no matter what.
  2. Keep tabs on complaints from consumers and respond immediately.
  3. Take corrective action should two complaints of the same nature occur.
  4. Nip rumors in the bud fast by getting staffers on the same page so you can address their concerns.
  5. Check facts before making judgments capable of angering customers or triggering employee resentment.
  6. Learn to turn negatives into positives. Start with a verbal apology. Ask how you can fix things and follow through immediately. If negativity has time to fester, it’s easy to lose control over the situation or issue.

What Could It Cost You If Your Image Tanks?

How much negativity can cost a company, in terms of patronage and dollars? Having put into practice the aforementioned 6 suggestions, turn your attention to one of the most powerful tools on the planet. This is made of the online customer service reviews. Negative social media has the potential to damage an image so badly that some companies don’t survive the onslaught.

Contributor Jayson DeMers concluded that 88-percent of people reading online reviews are impacted by them. Consequently, heavy traffic alone could short-circuit new business, impact existing business and drive a company’s bottom line south. But if you have learned how to respond to negative feedback, you can salvage your reputation and bottom line.

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4 Ways to Combat Negative Reviews & Defend Your Company Image

  1. Solicit positive reviews to balance negative ones. Don’t be shy about asking customers to comment on their positive experiences. Also contact negative reviewers. Ask what you can do for them in order to rescind or change a bad review.
  2. Respond to every review posted on your business website—pro and con. People want to know that they are being heard. Be polite and ask what you can do to get back in the good graces of dissatisfied reviewers.
  3. Don’t fight big battles online that the rest of cyberspace witnesses. Use the phone to resolve problems instead. Customer service reps use this tool regularly. Managers and executives also make powerful respondents.
  4. Determine whether a review is negative or defamatory. If it’s the second, don’t hesitate take steps to have it removed because for every minute it hangs out there, your business takes a hit.

Learn to Put Yourself in Customer’s Shoes

Think for a moment about businesses, brands and retailers you favor personally. Describe each one’s image in a few words.

  • Do you feel a sense of trust?
  • Can you count on products and services to meet your standards?
  • Importantly, do you feel comfortable spending your money with them because you feel valued?

You want your customers to answer these questions with an enthusiastic Yes. You can leave it to fate or circumstance and as a natural outcome of doing business. However, the marketplace will be delighted to create their own version of your image. So, never let that happen.

To the Walk

Understanding that your image is almost always within your control, learning how to respond to negative feedback will become second nature to you once you’ve gotten some practice. Teach your employees how to respond to negative feedback. Then, your front line of defense is going to be as solid as your own ability to turn the tables on negativity.

As a matter of fact, saving your company image whenever it needs a rescue could be one of the most empowering experiences you’ve had since the day you launched your enterprise and greeted your first customer.