6 Things to do with Negative Feedback

(and why you should ask for it)

 
 

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Tweet: If we've had a difficult time with a client or project and know there's likely to be bad feedback, we are unlikely to ask for their honest thoughts, when in fact, this is the time we need it most. @iamstacykessler https://ctt.ac/r1epW+

If we've had a difficult time with a client or project and know there's likely to be bad feedback, we are unlikely to ask for their honest thoughts, when in fact, this is the time we need it most.


Tweet: When I have a bad experience with a business, but they go above and beyond to make it right, I'm always impressed and become an evangelist and loyal customer.

When I have a bad experience with a business, but they go above and beyond to make it right, I'm always impressed and become an evangelist and loyal customer. 


 
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Do you ask every client for feedback?

Probably not. (but kudos if you're already a market research pro!) 

We all love positive feedback and happily listen when it's offered up, but it's not as easy to ask for it, knowing that they'll probably have some not-so-positive things to say as well. Because the truth is, we are all human, and there are always ways to improve.

When we come out on the other side of constructive feedback, we are always better off for it (and so are our future clients). Then why is it so hard to ask for it?

I used to take constructive feedback hard. I'd beat myself up for not doing better and take everything really personally. I'd dwell on it FOR-EV-ER. But being in the market research industry, I understood the importance of getting this information. We might think we know what our clients think about us and our services, but guessing at this is a dangerous game to play and is a good way to ensure your business stays stagnant instead of continually improving.

So, I recommend asking every single client for feedback and I have created an online form that gets sent to all of them after we do work together.

Wanna know what I ask?

I've created a free copy & paste list of client feedback questions you can send to your clients as well. You can download it for free below, or you can visit my shop to get bundle of ready-to-send client forms and surveys, making this process even simpler.

What to do with negative feedback?

So, you ask for feedback from your clients, and it's not all good. Crap. Now what? Here are six steps I recommend taking when you get negative feedback.

Step 1: Take the feedback seriously, but don't dwell on it personally

I know, I know. This is easier said than done.

Trust me though, it gets easier over time. By not avoiding the feedback, but instead reminding myself that constructive feedback is an opportunity to wow the next client even more, I'm able to have more compassion on myself and move on more quickly by following the next steps. 

Step 2: Determine the root cause of the feedback

It's important to take time and reflect on why you're getting this feedback and what it really means. Sometimes this means you may need to ask your client some follow-up questions (just be sure to present your questions with an open-minded and curious vibe - instead of a defensive or hurt one - or it may prevent you from getting to the really-real).

When you have all the info you need, reflect on what role you played and determine what prevented you from being able to deliver an amazing client experience. Sometimes what the client experiences is really a symptom of a larger problem in your business. You want to uncover what this is so you can fix the cause, not just the symptom.

Step 3: Decide if doing something with this feedback will help your business 

Once you've decided what role you played and the root cause of your client's negative experience, you need to decide what to do with it. I do not recommend that you take action on all negative feedback. 

Maybe they just weren't a good client and the issue really has nothing to do with you. I don't believe that the customer is always right, but I do believe that you can learn something from every customer. For example, you may decide that they were not your ideal client or that wasn't your ideal project and it may help you gain clarity on what type of work and clients you want moving forward.

Do not, however, use this as an opportunity to avoid things you don't immediately excel at. Mastery takes time AND learning from feedback is a big part of that.

Step 4: Face it head on - take responsibility (if appropriate) and make it right

Do not shy away from negative feedback. It'll fester. I swear. The best way to move on personally and to make your client feel better about their experience is to address it with them head-on. 

If appropriate, apologize (but don't do this if they were just a sucky client and the problem wasn't in fact you) and thank them for their honesty. Reiterate their feedback so they know you understand what they are saying and where they are coming from. They may also have angst about telling you the negative stuff, so these things will also make them feel better (and leave them with a better memory about you).

If there's something you can do to make it right, offer this solution to the client.

I was once doing a 30-minute session with a new client. They were a part of a program I was offering which included a workshop. They missed the workshop but told me they planned to watch the recording of it and wanted to use the short session to help them execute what they learned in the workshop. Instead, she came to the session not having watched the video or done the work yet. She had all sorts of questions that I addressed in the workshop and I kept reiterating that I covered her questions in the video, so if she wanted to use this time for something else, we could. I was worried she's leave not feeling like she got a good value from our time together if I just regurgitated everything from the workshop.

We didn't connect well during her session and I could tell she was getting frustrated. Afterwards, I reflected on what happened. I realized that she just wasn't going to make time to watch the video and what she really desired from our time together, was to get the cliff-notes version from me in person. I felt horrible and knew I hadn't delivered a great client experience - which is one of the core values of my business. I called her up, shared my reflections and asked if it was on point. She agreed and shared her feedback with me. I apologized and offered her another 30-minute session for free to make it right. She took me up on the offer and we both felt better about the situation. 

Step 5: use this feedback to make improvements for next time

Take some time to reflect on what you determined to be the root cause of the problem. Brainstorm ways that you can overcome this in order to wow your future clients.

Then, take the steps to implement your changes whether that's automating something, developing a way to remind yourself to do things differently, adjusting your process, or updating your messaging and materials.

Step 6: Continue to ask for feedback, then REPEAT

I actively seek feedback (both the good and the bad) from every single person I serve. This allows me to continually improve my business over time by getting more and more in-tune with my ideal client, learning how to improve my client experience, and finding opportunities to better my business.

Trust me, when you continue to ask for feedback, it gets easier to take the negative stuff less personally and to instead see the opportunities to turn it into something amazing.

Methods to Get Feedback

Over the years, I've used all different ways to get feedback from clients. Here are all the different methods I've used:

  1. Asking questions 1:1 in person or over the phone

  2. Handing out a paper survey (for in-person group events)

  3. Emailing my questions

  4. Sending a Google Form

  5. Creating an automated feedback form in my booking calendar, Acuity, that clients automatically receive after one of my strategy sessions.


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Here they are in a nutshell

6 Things to do with negative feedback


Step 1: Take the feedback to heart, but don't dwell on it personally

Step 2: Determine the root cause of the feedback

Step 3: Decide if doing something with this feedback will help your business 

Step 4: Face it head on - take responsibility if appropriate and make it right

Step 5: Use this feedback to make improvements for next time

Step 6: Continue to ask for feedback, then REPEAT
 

How to get started

If you're on-board with this whole client feedback thing but don't know the best questions to ask to get helpful feedback, just download my free Copy & Paste Client Feedback Questions below.

Other Resources

Client forms & surveys

Check out my done-for-you and ready-to-send online Client Forms & Surveys bundle that will help you take your business to the next level.
 

Automate client questionnaires in your scheduling tool

Acuity is an amazing scheduling tool that I use for my business. You can setup questionnaires to automatically send to your clients when they book with you or after a session to get feedback. PS. I ONLY recommend things that I've personally used and feel good about recommending. I've tried multiple booking tools and this is my fave, so I thought I'd share the love and tell you about it as well. If you sign-up using my link above, I get a referral benefit.

 

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Hey There!

I’m Stacy, an entrepreneur, strategist, and adventurer dedicated to helping you build a kick-ass business out of your skills & passions. Why? Because I think you should love your life and that’s kind of hard to do if you don’t love your work.

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