Turning Around Negative Feedback

You’ve put your heart and soul into organising a great event and you think it’s gone well. But then, your bubble is burst when a critical email arrives. Sound familiar? Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but it can be hard to remain calm when you feel that your efforts are being unfairly slated!

In this post, we’re going to share tips on responding to and turning around negative feedback from event attendees. From responding to people who don’t initially appear to have a legitimate cause for complaint, to feedback that is constructive, these are the responses that will help you – and your event business – grow.

Feedback 1: The “why is this person bothering me with this?” complaint

Dear Event Organiser

I attended your event yesterday and was extremely disappointed to find this morning that the free key ring I received in the welcome pack has broken already. After paying £20 for a ticket, I would have at least expected the goods to be of acceptable quality! Please send me a replacement.

Ann Other

Hand up if you’d be tempted to hit the delete button on this email? Rather than get annoyed at someone who’s blaming you for something minor that isn’t under your control, use it as an opportunity to make your business look great. Handled right, it’s easy to turn an irate, unreasonable customer into a pussycat! The key is to acknowledge their feelings, then meet their request (by making it the responsibility of the company who supplied the faulty goods).

Your response:

Hi Ann

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’m sorry that you were not pleased with the quality of the key ring and I am disappointed on your behalf that it has broken after such a short time. As a matter of urgency, I will contact the company who provided the key ring and ask them to send you a replacement. You should be hearing from a member of their team in due course. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have not heard from them soon.

Best,

E. Organiser

Feedback

2: The “it was your own fault” complaint

Dear Event Organiser

I purchased tickets for yesterday’s event and opted to buy the upgraded version that included transport to and from the venue. I lost my ticket for the return journey. The bus driver was most unhelpful and refused to let me on board. I was left stranded at the venue, completely alone at 9pm, with no way of getting home. I was forced to pay for a taxi, at a cost of £55.

I want to be reimbursed for the cost of the taxi and the travel component of the ticket, at a total of £70.

Ann Other

What should you do when someone contacts you with a problem of their own making? The best solution is to craft your response carefully, making it clear that this was not your fault, but you do sympathise with their predicament. In this example, asking for the customer’s booking reference is a way of obtaining evidence that they were eligible to travel on the bus. This approach may leave you out of pocket (by a very small amount), but is a way to show guests that you value their input and are committed to providing excellent customer service. And that’s invaluable.

Your response:

Hi Ann

I am sorry that your travel experience was unsatisfactory. Thank you for letting me know what happened. As a priority, I will investigate the matter further with the travel provider and update you as soon as I receive feedback. It is important to us that all our guests have a positive experience and I will be working to ensure an incident like this does not happen again.

Unfortunately I am unable to reimburse the cost of the taxi. It is the responsibility of all ticket holders to ensure they keep tickets safe in order to gain entry onto the bus. However, as a gesture of goodwill, I would like to reimburse you the price of the travel component of the ticket. If you would like to accept this, please send me your booking reference so I can organise payment.

Best

E. Organiser

Feedback 3: The “uh oh, this is a serious problem” complaint

Dear Event Organiser

I attended your event last week and was extremely disappointed that the venue was not as described. Contrary to the information on your website, there was no wifi, the cutlery was unclean, and there were not even enough chairs for all of the attendees who wanted to attend the keynote speech. After paying a significant sum to attend this conference, I had high expectations, none of which were met. I will not be attending any conferences run by your organisation again. I will also be sure to pass on my experience to others.

Ann Other

It’s important that issues like this are dealt with swiftly and to the satisfaction of the guest. If your event business develops a reputation for poor – or even dangerous – service,  you’ll have a serious PR problem to contend with. Apologise without blaming anyone. It’s important to discuss the allegations with the service provider. You should also conduct and investigate certain claims for yourself. If they are found to be true, be prepared for many more complaints. If the customer doesn’t state what (if anything) they want to happen, ask what they would like and offer a solution. Turning around a customer’s negative experience like this must be handled carefully. But, the good news is it’s a great opportunity to build a reputation for your event business as one that listens and truly cares about its guests.

Your response:

Hi Ann

Thank you for letting me know about what happened. Please allow me to express my sincerest apologies. I will be liaising immediately with the team at the venue to find out why the services you listed failed to meet the high standards we expect.

It is important to us that our guests have a positive experience at our events. I would like to reimburse in full the cost of your ticket and offer you a complimentary ticket to our next conference. Please let me know your booking reference number so I can organise this as a priority.

Best, 

E. Organiser

How do you deal with negative feedback? Share your tips with the Get Invited community in the Comments section below or on Twitter!