Wondering how to reply to customer feedback that isn’t so positive? There’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.

If there’s one thing you can be sure of in any service industry, it’s that you’ll have to learn how to reply to customer feedback. The feedback you receive may or may not be favorable, but in the case of the latter, it’s important to address any negative assessments of your organization in a professional and positive manner. 

It’s worth noting, too, that even negative feedback can help you improve your business. In fact, you could argue that constructive criticism is one of the most valuable things a customer can offer you. More than a few janitorial businesses have managed to make very profitable improvements based on comments from some unhappy customers. 

Let’s take a look at the 3 types of feedback you can receive and then dive into the best way to respond to each type.

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How To Reply To Customer Feedback

3 Types of Customer Feedback You Can Expect

This isn’t exhaustive by any stretch. But there are some larger “umbrella” categories of messages you can expect from customers. 

Positive feedback. Who doesn’t love to hear affirming comments? Positive feedback is great for your organization. You already know how to reply to customer feedback like this, too. Graciously responding with a response such as “thank you for your support and for being a great customer” can go a long way in showing your appreciation.

Helpful negative feedback. Helpful negative feedback may come from long-time customers or people who decided not to work with you. Useful feedback, even if it isn’t very positive, can alert you to issues that need to be addressed that could deter other potential clients. 

Unhelpful feedback. This is, without a doubt, the most difficult to work with. While it’s not always easy to figure out how to reply to customer feedback when the reasons they’re angry aren’t specifically stated, it’s still an opportunity to show your professionalism in the way you handle your response by asking thoughtful questions and offering further assistance. 

How to reply to customer feedback: The good, the bad, the ugly

Let’s talk about positive feedback first. It’s pretty simple, actually. As we touched on earlier, you absolutely need to thank people for positive comments, whether it’s in person, on review sites like Google or Yelp, or on social media. From a customer’s point of view, when you don’t acknowledge a positive review, it feels like you don’t care. 

Constructive feedback, or helpful negative feedback, is beneficial in many ways. It might not feel that way at the time, but it is. Be sure to value these people and their opinions. It’s more helpful to you to have customers reach out regarding a concern or problem then to never bring anything up to you and end up canceling their contract or hiring a different cleaning crew. 

People who point out problems or inconsistencies in a constructive manner, are doing you a favor by giving you the opportunity to make things better. Even if you might disagree with what they have to say, at least acknowledge them and remain open to a discussion. Sometimes it takes an outside eye to notice things we can’t. 

Now the least fun category, and the most challenging to deal with: Unhelpful negative feedback. This type of feedback is more often than not presented in an angry and confrontational manner and could even be in response to a situation or matter that is completely out of your hands. 

These complaints can be the toughest. You have to read the room. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do other than apologize. Other times, people just want to be heard. Letting them have their say can be all that’s needed to settle things down and get to a point where you can rectify the issue.

Your job in this situation is to remain calm. Take a few deep breaths. Avoid phrases like, “what’s the problem?” or “what do you expect me to do?” Stick to non-defensive statements and questions like, “how can I help make things better?” 

Depending on the situation, take responsibility and correct the problem. Don’t blame it on employees or anything else. Your customers don’t care about the origin of the problem, they want the issue fixed. 

Sometimes your best bet is to take the loss, refund the customer, and learn from the experience. 

If it’s online feedback, respond calmly, apologize for the situation or misunderstanding and see if there’s a way you can make it right. 

Keep in mind these unhelpful comments can also be complaints that have nothing to do with your commercial cleaning business. You may just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We’ve all seen the online one-star reviews of restaurants that, in reality, are just people venting. For example, the vegetarian restaurant that got slammed in a review because they didn’t have steak or the bar that someone hated because they didn’t have televisions to watch “the game.”  

Take each comment and review in stride. A calm and helpful response goes a lot further in fixing and defusing problems than responding in an unfriendly manner or in a defensive tone. The way in which you respond to customer feedback is what people will remember.

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