How to Turn Positive Feedback into Positive Results

When things go bad, they go viral.

We’ve all seen horror reviews of bad hotels, restaurants, and airlines.  We have probably laughed at them too, while the companies on the receiving end desperately tried to stop a PR disaster.

Dealing with negativity is certainly a good business practice. In fact, there are countless blogs, guides, and more from business owners and customer service experts on how to deal with negative feedback.

What we almost never hear about, though, is what to do about positive feedback. That’s because we’re often inclined to give special treatment to people who criticize us, normally to sweeten the deal. But the high-performers? They are left out.

Positive feedback may not keep us up at night but missing a strategy to deal with positive feedback certainly will.

According to thinkjar CEO Esteban Kolsky, positive experiences bring value; 72% of consumers will share a positive experience with six or more people. This spread of good news is key when attracting new customers – a process which the adage says is five times more expensive than retaining existing customers.

Positive feedback doesn’t just make you attractive to newcomers. Customer retention is one of the strongest indicators of how reliably your company is satisfying your customers. To retain (and upsell, for that matter) you need to keep living up to your reputation, and that means gathering positive reviews, getting them out there as social proof for future customers to see, and repeating this process with your new customers. This still doesn’t seem to click with most companies though, with Invesp research showing 44% of companies “have a greater focus” on acquisition, while 18% focus on retention (the rest say they have equal focus).

Put simply: your positive reviews could be doing your marketing for you. Right now.

So how do you deal with positive feedback? How do you respond to and promote your positive customer reviews?

In this two-part series, we will look at the major pillars upholding a solid positive feedback strategy:

1. How to notice and respond to positive feedback?
2. How to create a personal customer relationship, offline and online?
3. How to capture and share praise?

In each piece, we will give tips and ideas to achieve these missions. Here we go.

How to Notice and Respond to Positive Feedback

Tip #1: Acknowledge Praise and Share It

This sounds simple, but you’ll be surprised how many companies focus only on the things they need to improve, rather than the things they do well.

According to Psychology Today, this is linked to our own self-esteem, as well as expectations to be humble. Many of us – at work or at home – don’t accept compliments because we think they go against our duty to be humble. To combat this, we tend to focus on the negative aspects of what we do because we don’t want to come across as arrogant or proud.

But there is a place somewhere between humility, pride, and arrogance. It’s called ‘honesty’.

Let’s look at it this way: If you overpraise yourself or your staff, if everything is awesome (thanks, Lego Movie), you can become cocky, or false. Your staff and customers might agree something is awesome once but overdo it and they’ll no longer take it seriously.

On the flipside, if you underpraise your staff, customers, or achievements, the morale begins to dip and negativity becomes the norm. You become that guy.

To find the balance between the two, you first need to address every piece of customer feedback as unique. Don’t automatically write back to your customer with ‘this is AWESOME, thanks!’ (Equally, never write back to a negative review with a negative reply.)

Simply say some of the following things to address positive customer feedback:

“Thank you for your feedback…” say thanks. Your customer still took time out of their day to get in touch with you.

“I am pleased / The team really appreciates…” – depending on the situation, give your (or your team’s) honest reaction to the comment. How did their feedback make your day?

“Again, thank you. If there is anything else, I would be happy to help” – the middle of the email should reflect on the praise given, comment on upcoming developments, or give an incentive to stay in touch. Once you are done, be sure to repeat your sincere thanks and commitment when you sign off.

Here at SmileBack, we have an internal Slack channel dedicated to feedback. This does not mean we sit back and say ‘well the reviews are good, our work here is done’, but it does give us the morale boost we sometimes need when facing problems or deadlines. After all, recognizing positive feedback doesn’t just benefit your customers, it benefits your team; lack of recognition is one of the top five reasons employees quit.

Try displaying your positive feedback proudly on screens, on print-outs, on whiteboards – whatever it takes to give that jolt of energy to your team.

Tip no.2: Be Authentic and Polite

My dad has a phrase I live by:

“Soap is cheap. But manners are free.”

While you may look clean and in order, that won’t make up for rudeness.

Even if your response to the positive feedback looks great visually, don’t get lazy and just say ‘thanks for the feedback.’

Take time to respond in a polite, authentic way. It is about clarifying your message, speaking from the heart, and making a connection.

Writing? Consider using emojis: Digital messaging services (from email, WhatsApp, to Facebook Messenger and more) make it harder than ever to strike the right tone. But if you and your customers understand each other’s tone, you could try using emojis from time to time. A well-crafted message always takes priority, but emojis can be a fun, light-hearted way to really show you care.

Pick up the phone: Imagine how you would feel if your favorite company called you right now, telling you what an excellent customer you are. You’d buy from them again in a heartbeat. We crave personal attention and feedback. Not only does this simple act help clarify any misunderstandings, but it shows your customer they are worth the extra effort it takes to reach out to them individually. And for anyone who says this isn’t scalable, take a look at Zappos and what they do, from sending thank you cards to personal calls.

Have fun, too: The phrase ‘Be fun, fair, kind, and aware’ is a core value to us at SmileBack. Life is too complex and  short to focus purely on pessimism and fault. When the time calls for it, make a joke with your customers. And be aware, at all times, what impact your actions have on the customer experience.

Thankful touchpoints matter as it encourages word-of-mouth promotion. The fact is that 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your customers, so there is a compelling argument for taking the time to personally get in touch with customers.

Tip no.3: Reward Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty is key to long-term success – and sometimes that means going the extra mile.
A mere 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25% to 125% increase in profits for your company.

Loyalty programs are one way to keep customers involved, but member-only deals, discounts, and prize draws are other ways to reward your most loyal customers.

It’s not about creating a two-tier system. It’s about acknowledging the continued relationship you have with your best assets.

Some of the best customer loyalty schemes in the world today utilize apps, giveaways, and points that are redeemable in-store or online. This doesn’t mean you have to imitate the complex Starbucks Rewards program though; start small with other contests or gifts. Some ideas include:

Amazon vouchers: Our personal favorite at SmileBack. We can reward customers for feedback , for participation in a survey, and a lot more. Simple. And you determine the value.

Prize draw: You may have some old corporate swag lying around that you think your customers would like. Offer it to them in a prize draw.

Pizza: We love the concept of ‘pizza diplomacy’ at SmileBack. If something goes particularly well (or particularly badly) our CEO often takes a pizza order for the customer in question and calls it in himself. Because, as science has proved through the power of science, everyone loves pizza. (Right?!)

And There is the End of Part One

Reputation is everything. Make sure you understand what your reputation is, how you can use it to your advantage, and how you can fix the areas you’re perhaps not doing so well in.

Customer satisfaction doesn’t need to be difficult.  At SmileBack we measure the effect of our actions with just three smiley faces. Best of all: we are a Freshdesk partner, meaning you are only a few clicks away from integrating the simplest CSAT survey with your business.

Do you have any more ideas for how to build meaningful customer relationships? Let us know in the comments. And don’t forget to come back for part two, right here.