Handling Negative Feedback With the rise of social media and your customer’s ability to react publicly on your company’s page, how you handle negative feedback has become more important than ever. Whether you are just starting on your entrepreneurial adventure or have a seasoned business, one thing is certain; there will be times that you receive negative feedback. Whether you are just starting on your entrepreneurial adventure or have a seasoned business, one thing is certain; there will be times that you receive negative feedback. Customer With Criticism Have a Plan Before you even begin to sell, have a plan in place for how to handle difficult situations. Will you give refunds if a customer is not satisfied with their product? Will you offer a substitute instead, or will you stick to a strict no returns, no refunds policy? Plan it out in advance, publish your policy and stay the course. If you do allow returns, decide if you will provide replacement products or if you will give a “store credit,” and set a policy for the situations to which each would apply. Unfortunately, there are some customers who will give you negative feedback just to get a discount on future purchases or a free product. Although it is almost impossible to plan for every situation, it is important to decide if you will refund a customer more than once, or honor a discount code repeatedly. Find the Root of the Problem Get to the root of the problem. Customers want to be heard, and they want to know that you’re listening. No matter how busy you are, take a moment to find out why the customer is upset. Is the product labeled correctly? If your label, particularly the net contents and/or the ingredients are incorrect, it can mislead the consumer. If they don’t get what they think they paid for, or find out they are allergic to something in the product, you can have an issue to deal with. Have you made unreasonable claims? Does your product say that it will cure a skin condition? Increase or decrease hair growth? These are claims make your product an unapproved new drug! Aside from being illegal, making empty claims can ruin your business—especially when your customers find out that they aren’t getting what was supposedly promised. Is there an identifiable defect? If your customer is unhappy with the product itself, asking to see the product and examine it is a good idea. Mistakes happen, and sometimes a less than perfect product may find its way onto your shelves. Now is the time to use the plan you made in Step 1 to fix it. Stay Professional Don’t be defensive. This one is difficult, especially if your customer’s claims are unfounded. Resist the temptation to be rude or abrasive, especially on social media! If someone leaves you negative feedback publicly, either remove it from your page if it is unfounded, or comment publicly that you will reach out to the customer privately. Engaging in a discussion about what went wrong in full view of your other customers will look unprofessional. Keep Records Keep a “complaints file” and put all the details about any complaint in it. Make sure the record includes what the complaint was, who made it and how it was resolved. Not only is this part of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), it can give you a way to go back and see if there are any repeating issues that need to be addressed. Final Thoughts Interacting with the public, especially when you are selling a product on which you have worked so hard, can be very rewarding! Being in a business where you are promoting self-care, beauty and health will naturally attract people of a like mind, and you will have many customers who will love your product and will leave you glowing reviews. Remember to stay professional, courteous and respectful towards those who leave less-than-favorable feedback; after all, your reputation is your brand. Happy Customer!