Future of CX

6 ways to avoid the negativity bias in customer service

Jeremy DSouza
Mar 3
4-5 mins

Table of contents

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Ways to avoid the negativity bias in customer service

After months of working from home, I was tired of boring old NESCAFÉ. I was desperately craving the fancy coffees that I’d gotten used to at the office.

So, I decided to look for flavored coffee. When I finally found a brand that seemed interesting, I scoured the internet for reviews.

They were overwhelmingly positive, except for 1 review.

That one negative review got me worried. It essentially got me to delay my purchase by a week.

And even after I placed my order, I wasn’t thinking, “I hope this is as good as everyone says it is”. 

What I was actually thinking was, 

“I hope it’s not as bad as that one person said it was.”

You read the news and find yourself wondering, “Are there only horrible, negative events occurring throughout the world?” You notice that there are hardly any positive events mentioned.

Why? Because the editors know what readers are looking for. 

We always pay more attention and assign greater importance to negative information. And we have evolution to thank for it.

Dr. Rick Hanson has a nice way of putting it.

Humans have always had to choose between chasing rewards or avoiding hazards. But, early humans could not assign the same importance to both.

“If you miss out on a carrot today, you'll have a chance at more carrots tomorrow. But if you fail to avoid a stick today - WHAP! - no more carrots forever.”
— Dr. Rick Hanson

How do you deal with negativity in customer service?


More positive experiences

Balancing out the negative experiences is not particularly simple. You can’t compensate for one negative experience by creating a single positive experience. You need to create more.

fighting the negativity bias
Fighting The Negativity Bias

It takes multiple good experiences to balance out a single negative one.


More powerful experiences

As suggested by Daniel Kahneman in the Peak-End Theory, we remember the most intense experience in an experience the most. 

So, if you want to negate the effects of the negativity bias, consider making sure that the strongest emotion felt during the experience is a positive one.

That being said, it would also help to ensure that the end of their experience with your organization leaves them feeling positive.


Request more reviews

A single negative review could hinder a purchase. So, it makes sense to try to balance it off with more positive ones.

The only reason I ended up buying the coffee I mentioned earlier was because the positive reviews vastly outnumbered the negative. But, that lone negative review still got me to delay my purchase by a week.

Ask the customers with whom you have a good relationship to leave a review/testimonial. Don’t be shy. It’s time for you to demonstrate social proof.


Don’t over-promise

If you make a promise, make sure you deliver on it. If you can’t, it’s best not to promise at all. Be clear about what you can do. 

If you don’t, you might just end up with annoyed and frustrated customers. And guess what they do. 

They tell others. Now you’ve got even more negative news to (over)compensate for.

Let your actions speak, not your words. Go out of your way to do more for your customers, especially when they do not expect it. They love talking about unexpected positive experiences too.


Look out for potential negative experiences

Now you know that your customers will naturally be looking for red flags. It’s time you started looking out for them too. 

It’s a continuous process. You always have to be on the lookout for these factors. Even tiny micro-moments can make a difference.


Value the complaints

Customers that complain are actually your most valuable customers. Those are the ones that drive innovation. They’re the ones that show you where you’ve messed up and where you need to improve.

And, after you solve their problems, they actually tend to be rather loyal. In fact, according to John A. Goodman, they end up being 30% more loyal than those that don’t complain at all.

Fight the negativity bias with Engati

Spare your customers the frustration of wait-times. Surprise them with real-time responses, even to the most complicated questions.

Engage your customers and solve their issues in their own language, over their favorite chat channels and create positive customer experiences.

Get started with Engati’s chatbot and live chat platforms today, no credit card needed. Sign up here.

Jeremy DSouza

Jeremy is a marketer at Engati with an interest in marketing psychology and consumer neuroscience. Over the last year he has interviewed many of the world's brightest CX, AI, Marketing, and Tech thought leaders for Engati CX.

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