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In the modern world your customers have more channels than ever before to respond to you.

That’s a good thing.

Customer feedback – be it through social media, Google reviews, Trustpilot (and the like) or any of the other multitudinous ways of talking to brands now – can, if utilised sensitively,  help you improve your product, provide an opportunity for you to tell the world about your brand values, and even up-sell / cross-sell.

Even when you’re apologising (and this response from Tesla owner, Elon Musk is my favourite example of all time).

However, contrary to what you may think a Marketing Strategist like me might tell you, you shouldn’t just answer every gripe with a ‘we’re very sorry, how can we fix it’ approach.


Sometimes you’re not sorry. Sometimes you don’t want to fix it for them. Sometimes you made the decisions to run your company the way you do for the benefit of the business and/or other customers that aren’t the person to whom you’re speaking.

And sometimes that isn’t to their taste.

But that’s OK. As the ‘Godfather of Marketing’, Seth Godin, would likely say to them; ‘it’s not for you’.

In these circumstances, saying sorry is not only disingenuous, it could also do more harm than good as other customers who actually like your business for what it is could feel you’re lacking the strength of your convictions and actually start to wonder whether you’re right for them.

How about losing two customers for the price of one?


Over the weekend, a client of mine forwarded me a Google review from a customer complaining that the business’ shops were ‘too gentrified’ these days (which is an odd criticism anyway. What does that mean? Too clean? Too modern? Too developed?)

But regardless of the specifics of this case, it highlights that there are some situations in which you shouldn’t overthink your response.

If there’s something where you feel you’ve fallen short of your standards – or you think you can do something to remedy the situation for the customer (regardless of fault or lack thereof) – you should respond.

However, in circumstances where a.) you’re happy with what you’ve done, b.) you have no intention of changing what you’ve done based on the feedback and c.) the criticism is just an opinion, don’t.

Sure, you could take the Manchester City route and go on the offensive, trying to win fans through actively asserting your opposition to what the customer has put out. That’s fine and, in some respects, it’s a brilliant piece of tribe-building.

But it’s also fraught with risk and not for the faint-hearted. Burger King’s social media team are often name-checked as a good example of how to play fast and loose with perceived slights online (check out what they did with this McDonalds-loving tweet).

But this is a high-stakes gamble. Get the tone of voice even slightly wrong with this sort of thing and you risk discouraging other future customers from giving constructive feedback by either appearing glib or disrespectful.

(Note: having Katie Hopkins or Kanye West as your adversary is handy in helping you gauge whether the weight of public opinion will be on your side here). 


No, for the majority of us, dignifying the criticism with any response at all simply leaves you open to starting a public battle you’re unlikely to win. Let it be and, if potential future customers are also put off by your being too clean, developed, modern or whatever… well, you probably didn’t want them as customers anyway.

And finally, if their 1-star review means your overall rating is affected, well, rather than trying to talk around a customer you never really wanted in the first place, concentrate your energies on getting customers who love you just the way you are to review you, saying why they love you for all the same reasons as your detractor doesn’t.

If you’re having issues with customer feedback – subjective or otherwise – and you’d like to discover how X-CMO can help, contact me using the form below.



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