Why Customer Feedback Is A Gift in Retail

And what to do with both good and bad feedback

If your company values exceptional customer service, you want to receive feedback both good and bad. But do your employees know what to do with both good and negative customer feedback?

So, how do does your store handle feedback? Here are some great tips.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

What is Customer Feedback?

Customer feedback is information given from your customers about your employees, product, or service and whether or not their needs were met. There is no better and more reliable source of knowledge about the quality of a company’s products and services than customer feedback.

In retail, there are four common ways you will receive feedback from your customers. The first is face-to-face interactions which happen in the store before the customer leaves. The other three occur after the customer has left the store and you get feedback from a phone call, through an email, or on some form of social media.

What are Customer Reviews?

Generally, reviews are for social proof. Reviews are important, but they may or may not include feedback. If they do include feedback, they should be handled following the suggestions below.

Why Is Customer Feedback Important?

Whether it’s good or negative, feedback from retail customers is truly a gift. If you’re lucky, your customers are giving you feedback letting you know what you’re doing well and what you’re not doing well. The things you’re doing right need to go into your customer service standards. The things you’re doing wrong need to be corrected.

What Should You Do With Good Feedback?

When a customer gives one of your employees a compliment (positive feedback), they might think, “That’s great. I don’t have to do anything.” Unfortunately, they simply haven’t been given the right training. It’s not their fault. There are so many examples of incorrect customer service, that it’s not a surprise that they don’t know how to handle that kind of feedback correctly.

Instead, here’s what they should do.

When a custom gives positive feedback in person, your employee needs to listen to what the customer is saying. It’s important to understand what the customer enjoyed or appreciated so that can work into your customer service standard.

Don’t ask the customer to do additional work by having them fill out a customer feedback card. Your customer is already doing you a big favor simply by giving you feedback in the first place.

When the customer is done, your employee needs to sincerely thank them just like they would thank anyone who just gave them a gift.

They should then politely ask for their contact information in case the store manager has any additional questions. This information should be written down immediate as well as the feedback the customer provided.

Then, your employee should tell your customer where that information will go. For example, does this kind of feedback go to the store manager or corporate? Or does it go on a good news bulletin in the back? 

If it was in an email or social post, simply print it out, but be sure the other suggestions get done such as thanking the customer and letting them know where their feedback will go.

Compliments are nice but they’re not feedback and to reinforce positive behaviors you need specifics.

If a customer says, “You did a really nice job”, or “I love shopping in your store”, those are nice to hear, but they don’t give enough specifics. When one of your employees is at the receiving end of such a compliment, they should thank the person but then get specifics. All they need to do is ask, “Do you mind if I get some specific information from you so I can pass it along to our team?”

Asking questions like this makes your customer feel important and valued. 

But do you know what really works to build repeat, loyal customers? Give them something back. Remember, they just gave you a gift. Why not reciprocate and reward that behavior. Consider giving them a little something for their next visit to your store such as a coupon or discount or something. If you don’t acknowledge and reward the things you want, you won’t get them.

And the final thing to do with positive feedback is … celebrate! Be sure that all positive feedback is shared not only with the sales associate who was involved (and maybe reward that employee for providing exceptional customer service) but also to your entire team. Good news on a company bulletin board, internal newsletter, or even at a staff meeting is a great way to boost both morale and performance. Everyone wants to be on the winning team. 

To recap, here are the steps to handling positive customer feedback:

  1. Document it.
  2. Get specific information.
  3. Show appreciation to the customer.
  4. Celebrate the good news with your team.

What Should You Do With Negative Feedback?

Now let’s talk about the other side of the coin: how to handle negative feedback.

Customers aren’t happy all the time it’s unlikely that your employees have been trained on how to deal effectively with upset and angry people. Again, it’s not their fault, they just need better training. Here are some tips you can give them that will get them started on the right path.

Customer feedback, even negative feedback, is a gift. This is something that your employees need to understand. If they truly get this, it makes dealing with angry and upset people easier.

Negative customer feedback isn’t personal. An angry customer could have picked anyone in the store. They’re angry because they had some need that they wanted to be filled and thought that the product or service would do that and it didn’t meet their expectation or requirements.

Regardless of what it was, your employee needs to look at this situation as an opportunity to improve the product, service, process, as well as the overall customer experience that goes along with it. 

In other words, how can this feedback be used to make a positive change for other customers?

There will always be some customers that simply can’t be pleased no matter what. But, if your employees know what to do and they actually do all steps of trying to correct the situation, most of these customers can be satisfied. Showing customers sincerity and interest goes a long, long way.

To do this, your employee needs to listen to the customer — and not interrupt or use invalidating phrases like “calm down” which can often only make the situation worse. Instead, simply get the customer to tell exactly what the problem is. And then let them talk about the issue. Let them get it all out.

Actively listening lets the person know that someone cares about them and gives the customer a chance to cool down.

In doing this, hopefully, a real discussion can now ensue that will lead to a positive outcome for both your company and the customer.

Once your employee understands their problem, they should apologize — regardless of how minor the issue was. To this customer, at that moment, it was important. An apology is validating what they’re feeling and showing a willingness to work together.

It’s critical that an employee dealing with this situation is sincere and not sarcastic, dismissive, or passive-aggressive. At this point, their job is to listen, understand, acknowledge and take ownership of the issue do what they can to get to a positive resolution.

Finally, if promises are made to the customer to help resolve their issues, follow through with those promises. If a follow-up call was promised, make sure the customer is called, even if the issue isn’t fully resolved. Be proactive and keep the customer posted on what’s being done and what the next steps are. This commitment shows your customer that their business and their satisfaction are important to your company.

So to recap, here’s how you and your team should handle negative feedback:

  1. Think of negative feedback as an opportunity to improve.
  2. Look for ways of how this feedback can be turned into a positive change for other customers.
  3. Don’t take it personally.
  4. Listen carefully to what the person is saying and don’t interrupt
  5. Once the problem is understood, acknowledge the customer.
  6. Be sincere and take ownership of the issue.
  7. Follow up on any promises made to the customer.

Treat your customers with exceptional service and they will be loyal to your company and brand.

Customer Feedback Statistics

Here are some interesting and startling statistics regarding responses to customer feedback. 

Over 1 million view tweets about customer service every week. 

80% of those tweets are negative.

Only 68% of customers who voiced a negative comment on social media networking sites received a reply from the company.

18% of the customers who received a response and had their issue addressed, turned into loyal customers. 

33% of customers who received a response went back to social media to post about how their situation was resolved. 

34% of the original group deleted their original negative comment.

In other words, 85% of people who give negative feedback will change into a positive result for your company if you can address their concerns. And almost 20% will turn into loyal fans.

The take away from this is that if you can resolve a complaint in the customer’s favor, the vast majority will do business with you again. And that’s what gives you a loyal following with repeat business.

Retail Employee Training

We live in an ever-changing, ever-challenging retail landscape that’s becoming more global every day. Simply having the best price isn’t the answer. But here are some things that are proven and do work:

  • Stay true to the values of the culture.
  • Attract people who share the values of the culture.
  • Teach and coach based on those values.

Bruce Nordstrom, of the Nordstrom luxury department stores, said, “We can hire nice people and teach them to sell, but we can’t hire salespeople and teach them to be nice. We believe in the philosophy of ‘hire the smile, train the skill.'”

Mirroring this sentiment is Herb Kelleher, co-founder of Southwest Airlines who said, “Hire for attitude, train for skill.”

Virtually every company wants to have satisfied, loyal customers and happy employees. They know that good customer service is a key factor to running a successful business. 

But it takes more than just wanting and knowing. You need to train your employees with the right information.

Our mission is to provide learning tools, content, and online experiences that engage, motivate, provoke, and inspire adult learners to become top performers.

As part of that, we offer a Retail Training series that has the information your employees need in short-form (under 10 minutes) video-based training. 

It’s like having an in-house retail coach helping your employees improve your retail business.

This Retail Training covers a variety of topics and is full of practical and immediately actionable advice from experts.

These video courses considerably shorten the learning curve of new employees. Simply add it to your new employee onboarding program they’ll hit the ground running with the information they need to improve the customer experience and your bottom line.

And for your seasoned pros? They’ll love these engaging courses as reference tools and to brush up on their skills.

For more information or to watch some of our Retail courses, visit our Retail Training page.

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