How to Deal With Negative Feedback from a Student or Parent
Dealing with negative feedback is probably one of the hardest parts of running a business.
You work your patootie off trying to make everything perfect, staying up late most nights to work on class plans, teachers’ training, parent communications, fun exercises, high energy playlists, performance planning.
But there’s still that one person who’s not satisfied. The one who decides to inform you with their less-than-friendly opinions and advice on your school and efforts. The one who comments on every aspect of your business in the most rude and demeaning way, making you question why you even bother in the first place.
Unfortunately, it’s inevitable. No matter how hard you work, or how perfect you think everything is, you can’t please everyone. And there’s always someone who’s just not happy and will make it their mission to tell you so.
So, how should you handle negative feedback?
1. Hear Them Out
It’s tough to maintain composure, especially if they are coming at you with guns ablazin’. But it’s important to approach dissatisfied customers with an open mind and an eagerness to help. Most people just want to be heard.
As much as it sucks to hear, there’s a chance their feedback is perfectly valid. It may be information you need to hear. You can’t be in every nook and cranny of your studio operations 24/7, so your client’s feedback might highlight areas that need work.
Before you react on impulse, listen to everything they have to say. Even ask questions to clarify and understand the situation. You’ll find that even the most agitated of customers will soften when they realize you’re willing to listen and help.
It is also a very good opportunity for you to get valuable feedback from your clients on your classes, your teachers and your school, so that you can make improvements to your business if necessary.
2. Wait 24 Hours Before Reacting
Many problems appear much bigger than they actually are when you are in the heat of the moment.
Often, after a good night’s sleep, you can think more clearly and make better judgements.
Where possible, try not to react immediately after receiving negative feedback.
If you dealt with the dissatisfied client in person, then reassure them you will look into the issue/concern they have raised and will get back to them in a timely manner with a solution.
Normally, complaints are often about your staff, classes, or a mishandled situation. This will take the owner time to investigate with the appropriate staff members, so clients will understand.
Use this time to think objectively, and come up with solutions that allow you to handle the situation in a professional way.
3. Don’t Take It Personally
It’s important to remember that negative feedback is not the end of the world, and it’s simply one person’s view on your business.
It could be that your studio really isn’t suitable for that person, or it could be that there is still room for growth in your business, and this person is simply helping you reach the next level.
Getting emotional, defensive or angry will not do anything help the situation (and will just make you seem unprofessional). If anything, the negative headspace will just distract you from running your business efficiently and have you wasting more time and energy than necessary.
Likewise, don’t get on the attack and say something you might regret. If their complaint is not justified in your opinion, calling them a liar or pointing out their lack of parenting skills will get you nothing but a bad reputation.
If the client is being rude, abusive or malicious, then you have every right to ignore their comments and ask them to leave your premise. But if they are simply giving you their honest feedback on services they have received, then remain objective, try to see things from their point of view, and don’t allow your feelings to get too caught up in the mix.
4. Make It Part of Your Business Process
Instead of waiting to react to any negative feedback, why not make feedback a part of your regular business process?
Have a system in place to ask and record your customers for feedback, and analyze it on a monthly or quarterly basis. Most people only reveal or express their opinions if they have a complaint or issue. If they are perfectly happy with your services, they usually show it by simply coming back.
By sending out regular surveys to your clients or enforcing an exit-survey strategy, you are collecting feedback as part of your daily operations.
Not only will the prospect of “negative” feedback be less daunting; it’s also easier for you to view it objectively as a part of business. You will learn to expect feedback, and not be as shocked or feel “attacked” if you hear something you don’t like.
Not only that, but you will also receive positive feedback which is a great boost to your business confidence. It will put into perspective anything negative that you receive, and help you to locate any holes in your studio that you should be fixing, especially if you are receiving similar feedback from a number of clients.
5. Close It Off
After you’ve listened to the feedback and given yourself time to think clearly, it’s time to address the issue and give it closure.
Come up with a suitable solution that will satisfy all parties (if the complaint was justified). And make sure to communicate this to your clients.
This may mean taking a major action, like updating your operations, reprimand a staff or implement tighter management strategies. Or it could be quick and simple. Like update a website or plug up a hole in the wall.
Closure is important. This ensures you address the feedback from a business perspective, present a solution to the client that will (hopefully) satisfy them, and so that you’re not constantly thinking about the feedback and letting it distract you from your business.
Ultimately negative feedback is never easy to hear, But if you’re going to run a successful dance studio (and let’s face it, the world of dance moms is full of opinions you won’t want to hear!) then you have to accept that it’s part of the course.
As long as you have a process in place to deal with genuine feedback (good or bad), know when to walk away from unreasonable clients, and are able to remain objective and professional when dealing with all matters, then you’ll be well on your way to business success.