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How to handle negative customer feedback

by Max Al Farakh · Nov 10 2016

Customer support is not all roses - quite often you have to deal with criticism from your customers. It’s very easy to take it personally and ruin your relationships with a client even further. How do you deal with situations like that? Here is the first thing to always remember:

Don’t take it personally

This is one of my biggest issues. Being a co-founder and answering support tickets is hard because you are too invested in the product. When someone says something like “How can you have a help desk app that doesn’t do X? That’s crap.”, I immediately get angry. As we all know by now, being angry and replying to emails is never a good thing.

If there is one thing that will lead you to a burn out in a matter of weeks, it’s this one. Whatever your customers say, it is not directed at you. In the above example, the customer probably meant to say “we are looking for this feature and you don’t have it, so it’s not going to work for us.” But his wording made me hear “you are garbage and everything you do is crap.” In moments like this the first thing you need to do is stop and calm down. Don’t let it get to you.

Any feedback is a good thing

Think about it. Some person took some time to write their thoughts to you. For free. Even if it’s a rant, it can still be valuable.

Customer Support is a free marketing channel. You get so many insights into your customers and prospects from support tickets. If you start looking at your emails from this point of view, you will discover many things about your product. What do they like about the product? What do they hate? What annoys them? What features they do not care for?

Many companies pay for customer and market research to get that kind of information. But there is no reason to do that since you have it all in your support emails. You don’t need to ask them to provide you feedback.

Write a good response

There is no reason to be mad at things you have no control over. I know it’s hard, but try to calm down and write a mature response. Be empathetic and polite. Apologize profusely.

Basically, make that customer feel bad for writing a rude email to a nice person like you.

All the things we talked about before also apply to negative feedback. Here is a checklist for a good email response. Here is your checklist for a good email response.

The most important takeaway here is don’t let the negative stuff ruin your day. If you are starting to get mad, take a quick break. You need to take care of your mental state when working in customer support.