Sunday, April 28, 2013

Business 101: A FOOLPROOF Plan for Avoiding Negative Feedback



And here is the foolproof plan:______________________.

Because if I had one...I would be sitting on a pile of gold right now,sipping on a fruity drink...and definitely not working.

But before I get into feedback,I'd like to share a true story...

Once upon a time...okay...actually two weeks ago, I was reminded once again of the diversity of human thinking.

Because I am at home most of the day, hunched over the computer, I am sort of the *"Mrs. Kravitz" of the neighborhood.  And as a result of this, I am on a first name basis with our police department, fire department, and  most of teenagers who walk home from the nearby high school. "Sup?" is my name they've given me...at least to my face.

That morning, I once again heard, as I had heard for seven days and nights straight, the man down the street coughing violently ("cough up a lung along with other organs violently") in his front yard. This man is sadly, mentally ill. After wrestling around with my conscience on if this man had indeed the mental capacity to care for himself in this predicament, I decided he might not since he was still coughing this long.... and so I decided to call our local police department (non-emergency line) to do a "welfare check". Being a small town, they obliged.  So they came out, asked how he was doing,asked if he had visited the doctor (he had..the day before), and then left.  Thank you, men in blue.

Thankfully, this man had someone else who cared and stepped in before me...but what if he hadn't? No harm in making sure, right? I felt good. I felt proud. I did my "Joe Citizen" for the day and went back to hunching.

And now....faithfully....ever since that day....this man has rewarded my actions by flipping my son and I off twice a day as we pass back and forth to school in the car. Without the nasty cough to hinder his hands.

Now THAT'S some feedback.

Now what does this have to do with feedback as a seller? A LOT. Namely, human perception.

I thought I was looking out for a fellow citizen. He, like maybe some of you might  be thinking right now (gulp!), thought I was a "Billy Budinski" looking to stir up trouble.

And not that your customers are going to be grown men who have versatile hand skills...but they are going to be human....with their own perception of you and your products.

And there may be a time when their perception is negative. GASP!

So here are some things I've learned....

Do nice business owners get negative feedback? Yes.
Do products that are awesome get negative feedback? Yes.
Does everyone have the potential to get negative feedback? Yes.

But the most important thing about receiving negative feedback, is how you react.

These are normal actions you might FEEL like taking when receiving negative feedback:

1) Curl up in a ball in your bed and tell everyone you are quitting your business....and to bring you some cookies.
2) Write a response back to the negative feedback that rivals "War and Peace" about the reasons their feedback is unjust.
3) Stare at the computer for three hours without blinking.

Or you could just accept it as part (not one of the great parts) of doing business online with strangers. You don't have to like it. Or agree with it. Or even understand it. But you do have to deal with it...and professionally. Because this will "lessen the blow".

First, don't think this is the end of your business or that people won't buy from you again.  Anyone who has taken their kids to any of those really awful children's movies and spent a fortune on tickets/food knows that reviews obviously don't matter to some people. They believe its just someone else's opinion. If you really want to spend money on it...you'll still do it....even when 7000 people have warned you not to.

Second, don't write anything back right away.Wait.  It's okay to be angry...or upset....you just don't want to sound that way in your response. And you don't want to sound defensive either. People will be reading the negative review...BUT...they will also be reading your response. And if your response sounds like you are a kind and professional business owner who cares EMPATHETICALLY to all of your feedback...you are very likely to "zero out" that feedback with your own words.

An example of an empathetic response would be: "Thank you for your feedback. I'm sorry the product was not what you expected. I am open to suggestions for ways of making the product better."  (I often use a British accent when I am responding so that my written words really sound proper, calm, and dignified. Try it...it works!)

You'd be surprised at how this can catch people off guard. And while you don't have to do a makeover on a product because of one's feedback, the fact that you look open to it makes you look like a business owner who cares about their customers.

Third...don't quit.  I have literally sold over 12,000 things on the internet since I started online sales and I have had my share of negative (around 5 over 17 years) comments. It made me feel bad, angry, and needing to eat a gallon of ice cream. But it never made me quit.

Fourth...and this is my own opinion. Just keep it to yourself. No need to air it all over the forums...BECAUSE...people on your forums might be customers....and they are still watching how you  react.  If you need to vent...which is understandable...tell a 3-dimensional friend in your life. Just my two cents on that one.

So....

If you don't have any negative feedback, feel fortunate. But don't stay up at night worrying that someone has left a seething review for you overnight. You now know it's part of doing business. And if you have one or two...okay. No big. Just brush yourself off....and keep doing what you are doing...

Rebecca

*Nosy character from the TV show "Bewitched".

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