Turning Your Back on Criticism? Think Again!

By Ian Fernando

Guest Post
Through my work, I have come across various marketers whom are supposed to be extremely well versed with the trade. Yet, it baffles me that many professionals are committing classroom mistakes in our collaborations. These, often inspire me to read deeper into the engagement of customers in the entire marketing chain.

- Endoh Taiki

How do most companies react to negative feedbacks? Well, chances are the negatives are deleted if it can be read on a public platform. Or in any case it is not; feigning ignorance to any critics is almost expected.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is an extremely important cycle of business retention and referrals. In fact, most conventional businesses still see CRM as giving and not receiving. It sounds politically right, but one major oversight of any CRM effort is the failure to visualize “receiving as a form of giving back to customers”.

Embracing Criticism
Many businesses seemed to be caught up with this vicious belief that criticism towards their products and services would contribute to a loss of deals. They act readily to put out the flames whenever anything credit-less is mentioned, which many wished the same could be done in addressing the unhappiness towards a product or service. Are critics such a pest these days?

Contrary to what most of us believed, criticism can be transformed into positives which boost the image of a business instead of bringing it down. There is little secret how this is accomplished, other than to respond and react accordingly in a professional manner. To delete criticism or playing the ostrich game hardly adds any value or better the image of the business. Let alone winning over the hearts of critics.

Before anyone hopes to make the best out of criticism, they should make it a point to understand how criticism can help them in improving themselves. Generally, most critics are often pessimistic people who possess that sharp eye for details. They are able to spot little mistakes which optimists are unaware of, and highlight these issues. Don’t be awed, that these little mistakes can cost you the entire campaign. Therefore, the first step to handling criticism – is to embrace criticism.

Classifying Criticism
Criticism comes in many forms. It is imperative that the receiver should never take any criticism personally. By means of that, never allow criticism to get you over your head. That would end any effort of engaging the source of criticism instantly. Instead, we should be taking time and opportunities to understand the context of the criticism and how best can the situation be addressed. Of course, I am not saying you should waste your time addressing to spam and undesirable solicitations. By going through each and every criticism, it should be able to tell us if a person is just furnishing malicious comments, or plain unhappiness with our service, or even share generously a possible suggestion which might improve the way we work with customers.

How do we achieve that?

In many instances, responders to these criticisms often head out with outright denial of any wrongdoings. That’s basically natural human instincts kicking in, but it doesn’t make you any right either. This defensive reaction is also one of the killers in CRM efforts. Instead of writing off these criticisms, responders should always seek to go deeper into the criticism; understanding why a customer is unhappy. That tells the customer that a listening ear is always a phone-call away. Subsequently, this willingness to listen tells the customer how prepared your business is to handle hiccups. The more prepared you are, the better it will be.

Be Persuasive Not Aggressive
However, there is still one last obstacle when our involvement is limited. That is - to be persuasive and not aggressive. You’d see, I have often called up service providers to rectify issues and on top of being kicked around like a football from one department to another, I feel as though I have been forced-fed into buying their stories. That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Some of us could be the ones imposing that on our own customers perhaps.

As any experienced CRM person could relate to you, customers HATE aggressive representatives. This is easily visible in individuals who allowed the frustrations and anger to get the better of them. In return, all these resentments are expended on the customer. Do not forget, you need your customers more than they need you.

This component is especially crucial when the company has exercised every possible solution, and eventually left with little to be done. Hold your horses! There is actually a lot more to be done, and that is convincing your customers that you have done everything you could have to address the situation. Always seek to converse on a level platform where the messages can be easily understood. Telling your customers in explicit terms you use in your trade doesn’t help them understand a single bit. Most of the times, the average customers are completely clueless! Break down the messages into simpler terms or if permitted, reveal to them how and what you have done in your attempts to address their problems.

Does any of the above actually imply that a bulk of your time will be spent on dealing with criticism? NO! The point I am trying to drive across is that the outcome of criticism is dependent on how we handle the situation. We can sum it up in three general steps; embrace, classify and be engaging.

All businesses should be realistic, that we can never run away from criticisms nor please the entire world. As long as the criticisms are handled professionally, these negatives can be turned into positives through careful assessment and also with quick responses. Why wouldn’t positives benefit your business in this case?

Ian Fernando
Involved in the internet space since 2002 and have been through the ups and downs of this online industry. I am a traveling digital nomad, media buyer, online strategist, and many more online titles.

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