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Membership Management

How to Handle Negative Event Feedback: 4 Tips

MemberClicks Avatar MemberClicks September 12, 2017
Table of Contents
3 min read

We talk a lot about the importance of surveying your association’s membership, particularly following events. But let’s say you do survey your event attendees and, unfortunately, don’t get the best feedback.

What should your next course of action be? How do you respond to your members (and prospects) and appease them in a way that’ll make them want to come back next year? Here are a few tips:

1. Respond to individuals (if necessary and appropriate)

This depends a little bit on how you’re receiving feedback and also on how many negative comments you’re receiving in the first place.

Let’s start with the former: If you’re collecting feedback anonymously, you can’t necessarily follow up with people regarding their comments (unless you make that an option in the actual survey). But if you do know who said what, you may want to reach out to those attendees (if appropriate) and 1) thank them for their feedback, but 2) apologize for the problem/any inconvenience it may have caused. Let those attendees know that their feedback has been heard and that you’re going to do everything in your power to amend those problems for next year.

Note: If you receive feedback on social media (positive or negative), you should always, always, ALWAYS respond – and quickly, at that! Other people are watching and a response IS expected.

Now let’s go back to the latter. Responding to people depends, in part, by how many people are complaining. If you have only a handful of complaints, then it’s obviously much easier to respond to those particular attendees. But if everyone’s complaining – and the topics of complaint are varied – then responding may not be feasible and/or appropriate. Use your best judgment here. If you feel like you need to respond, do.

2. Determine which feedback needs to be acted upon

Now you know as well as we do that people will complain about just about anything, and often, those things may be out of your control (the weather, for example). Know what’s worth taking the time to change, then start your efforts there.

In other words, what’s going to have the biggest impact on future attendance? THAT’S where your priorities should lie.

3. Go back to the drawing board and brainstorm solutions

Once you’ve identified which complaints need attention, meet with your team and start brainstorming solutions. If sessions were too full, can you offer pre-registration? If parking was an issue, can you factor that into your next venue choice?

These problems CAN be solved – they may just need a little time and attention (and outside-the-box thinking!).

4. Let those solutions be known!

The whole point of asking for feedback and acting upon that feedback is so you can make your event better – and encourage members (and prospects) to re-attend in the future.

That said, once you’ve addressed these complaints, let that be known! You don’t necessarily have to say, “Hey, this was an issue last year…” but instead, say something along the lines of, “You asked, we listened!” Attendees will be pleased that you incorporated their feedback. So much, in fact, they’ll hopefully re-attend!

Speaking of registering for events, want more tips for ensuring your members actually do? Check out our free guide to event promotion below!

Free Member Retention Guide

Ready to retain members and keep them coming back forever and ever? This guide will teach you everything you need to know about member retention. We cover all the basics, like the first steps to member retention and how to map out your member journey. From there, we dive a bit deeper into retention tips.