Your customers are your most valuable resource for feedback on your business — what they say and how they view your brand matters. When they deliver feedback on your business’s website, whether positive or negative, you need to take notice.

As you collect customer feedback, it’s important to be thoughtful about your approach. You should respond with the right tone and in a timely manner.

Here are some tips you can use for creating a game plan about how to respond to customer feedback.

Why customer feedback is crucial

When you own a business, you’re focused on how to make it successful, and are not an objective source.

Customers can give you a different perspective and suggest ways that your business can improve to better serve them. Their encouragement can also keep you going. If they praise your work, this gives you insight into where you should invest even more time and resources to reap even better results.

Seeking your customers’ feedback also shows you value their opinion and this can make them feel more involved and invested in your business’s success.

Tips for how to respond to customer feedback

It may seem scary at first to open your website to customer feedback, and there are indeed some risks that come with it.

For one, the feedback can feel personal. Mulling over negative comments can become a time suck, so it’s important to realize that customers’ feedback will help your business grow.

You also need the right infrastructure in place to respond to customer feedback. Before opening the floodgates, make sure you’re equipped to handle this level of customer interaction. If you respond slowly to feedback or not at all, that could negatively affect your business’s reputation just as much as poor customer service or a faulty product.

Prepare yourself for customer feedback by following these tips:

  • Respond quickly: Set aside time to check comments once a day, whether that’s first thing in the morning or at the end of your workday. Set a goal to respond to comments within 24-48 hours.

  • Set the right tone: Don’t meet rude with rude. If a customer leaves an inappropriate or disrespectful comment, be gracious. Other customers will see how you interact, so it’s better to use a friendly tone.

  • Prioritize comments: Negative comments probably deserve a more timely response. However, you should prioritize specific feedback over vague comments. For example, if a customer says she hates your restaurant’s menu, there’s not much you can do about this. However, if another customer says she had to wait an hour to get her meal after being seated, you can respond right away, quickly apologize, ask for more details, and promise to correct the problem going forward. Offering a discount or a free drink may help, too.

  • Show your appreciation: Don’t ignore positive comments. If a customer has taken the time to leave praise, show them you appreciate it. That may also be a good time to ask for a testimonial or for a positive review on Yelp or OpenTable.

Customer feedback can make your business better. Whether the comments are positive or negative, you should respond in a timely manner and make every effort to address the problem. Doing so will improve your business’s reputation and, more importantly, your customer relationships.

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Satta Sarmah Hightower

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