[IMGCAP(1)]I think it’s safe to say no one really likes to receive negative feedback on a service their firm provides.

You put a lot of time and effort into creating and delivering services as perfectly as you can, and then someone comes along and pulls the rug out from under you with a negative review. While it may feel like all is lost, it can be an opportunity. Negative comments travel fast across the Internet, but your positive reaction can as well.

What many don't realize is that there can be benefits to receiving negative feedback. By learning something you or your firm is doing falls short of its intended goal, you can correct it and make it better. If someone has a poor experience with your firm, and you don’t hear about it, you can’t fix it. The chances of that same problem repeating itself with other clients if high, and you risk losing them as well.

Finding and fixing a client's problem can not only change their level of satisfaction regarding this particular situation, but strangely enough, it can create a more loyal, long-term client. As it turns out, when someone has a bad experience and the firm takes the time to fix, and perhaps enhance, the experience, the client is more satisfied than if the purchase had been generically good from the start.

According to a study conducted by customer experience company AboutFace in 2010, there is a brief window of opportunity following a service failure where clients can recover their trust in a business and actually leap from a state of disappointment to a state of loyalty. “The impact of feeling a company made it right carries so much value, it bypasses that neutral state of satisfaction if nothing had occurred at all,” says Terena Campagna, president of AboutFace. “Specifically, those that responded in the study said that what was most important was that the company responded quickly and made them feel they were heard. They also said receiving a straightforward response, even when the issue can’t be fully resolved, makes a big difference.”

Personally, I’ve seen many comments in my firm's Twitter feed where someone posted negative thoughts about a business, only to change their tune a little while later after the business saw their tweet and corrected the situation. Too often people feel those with whom they conduct business don’t hear them. The advent of social media not only gives individuals the opportunity to shine a spotlight on businesses and hold them accountable, but it also gives those same businesses a chance to respond and turn the spotlight on their excellent customer service. We are a service-oriented society. Since we have at our disposal so many different options for the same product or service, what usually sets a company or firm apart is not just their price but also their ability to provide top-notch client service and respond quickly to client needs and concerns.

If you ever find yourself on the bad end of negative feedback, don’t panic. Just step back and take a breath. You can take that feedback and use it as an opportunity to improve your service offerings, showcase your ability to listen to your clients, and potentially turn a disgruntled client into a loyal one.

Kelly Googe Lucas is the marketing and social media manager for BBR Marketing, a firm that provides marketing strategy, training and tactical implementation for professional services firms. You can learn more by visiting their Web site at www.bbrmarketing.com.

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