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How To Deal With Criticism From Your Clients Without Affecting Your Relationship

One of the hardest problems for anyone to deal with throughout life is being told you’re not good at what you’re doing.  Right from when you were in school and received your first sub-par grade along with a list of what needs improving, no matter how accepting you are of change, it’s difficult to take criticism on board in a positive manner.

If you’re struggling to deal with some criticism you’ve recently received or you simply want to prepare yourself should you receive some in the future, take a look through these five points that should help you deal with criticism effectively, without affecting your relationship with your client.

  1. Just because you receive criticism, it doesn’t mean its right – as humans, we always focus on the negatives.  I’m a particularly optimistic guy and like to think the glass is overflowing, rather than simply being half full, but even I find it difficult to, for example, shake off those negative reviews when searching for a hotel.  Irrelevant of whether there are 100 positive reviews to 1 negative one, it’s difficult to forget the latter.What you have to remember, though, is that the masses are almost always right and therefore if you’ve pleased clients for years without any problems and you all of a sudden receive an e-mail full of criticisms for something you sent to a new client, chances are its just going to be a one off.
  2. If you do receive criticism, though, don’t ignore it – the most important thing you can do is not to ignore any criticism you receive.  No matter how derogatory it is of your or company or how wrong you think it is, there must have been a reason for them to give the criticism.  Of course, this reason might have just been that the client was particularly picky or had unrealistic views, but it might have been that they had a bad experience somewhere down the line that you didn’t pick up on.
  3. Don’t just accept it; act on it – if you’ve received some form of criticism, what’s your first instinct? Accept it and move on? Don’t accept it and sweep it under the carpet?  Both are tempting, but neither are right – you need to take the criticism on board, understand why the client has been critical and see if it’s an isolated incident or whether it’s something others could be critical of.Depending on the outcome from this, you need to decide whether changes are necessary or whether you just need to, for example, pay more attention to detail.
  4. Always be polite in your reply – speak to any customer service experts and whilst they may all have their own processes, they one thing that they’ll all tell you is that when faced with a client who’s causing you some problems, always, always, always stay calm.  The same process needs to be applied when you receive criticism regarding your company or service.   Stay calm, don’t send back an immediate reply as chances are it’s going to be something that could damage your reputation and spend the time putting together a calm and collected response.What’s more, the reply doesn’t have to be so in-depth that it takes up several pages.  Simply state that you have received their correspondence, are sorry that they’ve not benefited from the first class service you strive to deliver and that you will look into the criticism in more detail.  From here, you can then take a more in-depth look at what the client has said and if need be, make changes to your service to improve your performance.
  5. Everyone receives criticism – when you open your inbox and have a complaint from a client, although it might not seem it at the time, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone receives criticism.  No matter how big of a company they are or how well known they may be, chances are they’ll receive criticism of some form.This might not be particularly comforting at the time, but it does help you remember that just because you aren’t pleasing everyone doesn’t mean you can’t be a successful company.  In fact, criticism can actually be one of the components that helps you grow and develop as a business, as it allows you to become aware of your weaknesses and act on them.

Have you got an interesting story revolving around criticism of your company or service? Are you stuck wondering what to do after a recent critical e-mail from a client? We’d love to hear from you and where possible, we’ll offer as much advice as we can.

Note: This article was originally published on August 3, 2010.

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