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Building strong customer relationships – acknowledging feedback in the right way

As we move into 2021, there is a clear opportunity to transform the way organisations provide service to their customers. Customer service leaders across all sectors have responded with exceptional resourcefulness to rapidly changing circumstances. Often, with challenging situations come excellent learning and insight, and we do not doubt that the pandemic will leave a permanent impression on the way customers interact with organisations. In fact, recent research from McKinsey shows one of their four fundamental shifts identified in consumer behaviour as being a “shock to loyalty”, citing that 61% of consumers have changed stores or brands. With these facts emerging, excelling in customer service is clearly an influencing factor over customer retention.

The July 2020 UK Customer Satisfaction Index, released by the Institute of Customer Service, shows the highest-rated organisations for customer satisfaction are John Lewis, Nationwide and First Direct. These companies are building strategies around their people to ensure they are well equipped to deliver customer service excellence.

It’s motivating and endorsing when customers tell us we are going a great job and that they love our products or services. When they say positive things about us, we should always acknowledge and appreciate that feedback. However, what should we do when we get negative or unsatisfactory feedback? How should we respond?

Acknowledging feedback in the right way

All feedback is invaluable, so it’s always essential for us to truly listen to our customers and respect their views. These actions help us continually improve our service, our people and our businesses. It also presents an opportunity for us to shine and excel. Considered responses to negative feedback and a clear demonstration of the action that will be taken, send a great message to other customers and potential new customers. It shows our openness to feedback and determination to provide an excellent customer experience every time.

So how do we expertly and positively respond to negative feedback?

There is a way to respond positively to any feedback you receive through a tool created by Mary Gober, an expert in customer service. It’s a tool that is a critical element of our Mindset, Language & Actions Toolkit, here at MGI Learning. Our Toolkit is used worldwide by large and small organisations, not for profit and blue-chip, to deliver outstanding service and drive excellent customer satisfaction and feedback levels.

The tool is called Glad > Sure > Sorry – it’s straightforward and expertly guides our response to negative or bad feedback. Each of these three words – Glad, Sure and Sorry – contain important messages for other people when they’re dissatisfied.

Glad says you welcome complaints or feedback; that you want people to come and tell you when they’re unhappy or dissatisfied with an experience they’ve had. It says you appreciate that they didn’t just go to someone else instead of you. It communicates that you value their complaint, as it gives you an opportunity to resolve the situation. It reinforces that you take complaints seriously and work hard to resolve them.

By saying Sure, you give a message that you will find them a solution, or some options and take action to get the situation sorted. It gives the other person confidence that you’re taking Ownership & Responsibility, right now, for resolving any dissatisfaction.

By saying Sorry, the customer hears your acceptance that you got it wrong, and you can see that they had a bad experience and that you’re genuinely sorry that it happened. It’s important to remember to use empathy here by saying things like: “I’m Sorry that happened as I can hear how important this was to you.”, or “I’m so Sorry that the experience has caused you these issues”. These messages show we’re honest, and that we see complaints, dissatisfaction and feedback as opportunities to win back faith and trust in us.

One final note, Glad > Sure > Sorry goes a long way in managing feedback effectively, and it is of course vitally important you follow through and actually do what you say you are going to do to resolve the situation. When dealing with online, publically-visible feedback, on social media, for example, following up and being clear that the problem has been resolved is also essential.

So, to genuinely demonstrate that you see all feedback as invaluable, make sure your teams acknowledge and thank people for the positive feedback and use Glad>Sure>Sorry to handle any negative responses. This proven approach will make sure you protect your reputation and build your team’s confidence.

Find out more

You can find out more about how our proven Toolkit can help build resilience and enhance positive communication to deliver outstanding, world-class service in your organisation here. You can also get in touch to book a free discovery call with one of our experienced consultants or book a demo or our eLearning tool if you would like to see it in action.

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