Small Business Milwaukee ThinkTank | November 15, 2021 Recap

Topic: Tactful Responses to Negative Commentary

Tonight’s ThinkTankers discussed tactfully handling negative commentary. This commentary can come from customers, co-workers, employees, strangers and more.

Interested in any ideas offered below? Want to contact one of the meeting attendees? Find their information in the article below, and please tell them you learned about their business through this Think Tank article!

Valuable Quotes from Our Attendees

Find ideas for responding to negative commentary below!

Milena Dlugi

“Patience is the key.”
“You can notice recently that many people working in food industry/restaurant are frustrated and service is not the same like before. And customer would be the one that get that bad experience, but that people are not the busness owner that could not be aware.”
“I am trying to more patience that I used to be with service.”
“This is what is on the wall of the one of the Starbucks “Today you could be standing next to someone who is trying not to fall apart. So, whatever you do today, do it with kindness in your heart.”
“and your response depends on who gave you that feedback.”

Catherine Jozwik

“Keep it upbeat and professional–never go on the defensive and attack.”
“I try to give workers the benefit of the doubt and be very patient–I’m the kind of person that would say nothing and just not order for them again, lol”
“I remind myself that I’m grateful to be able to go out to eat and that lots of people are really struggling…”
“Even if the service is bad, I always think, ‘does this matter in the grand scheme of things?’ Although if you’re hungry it’s irritating at the moment..”
“Stay calm :-)”
“Consider the source of criticism”

Sara Deacon

“Breathe OUT to release some of the emotion.”
“What must the onboarding and training process look like at these restaurants when you get that big of a miss on the customer experience?”
“I was at a bowling alley for my son’s birthday last month. The young man who was working the counter and helping us with the lanes was amazing. So courteous and aware of everything that was going on. I made sure to go out of my way to compliment his service to the woman who took over, who I think was one of the managers. She was really pleased to hear that positive feedback, which reinforces the behavior that we as the customers want as well as what the business is obviously hoping for. TLDR – Don’t forget to offer POSITIVE feedback.”
“Being extra positive can actually help someone’s bad day turn around.”
“Don’t attack the person, but focus on the situation.”
“Most people move more from thoughtlessness than the intention to be hurtful. So say “thank you, I’ll consider it” to the negative comments. “I appreciate the suggestion.” And consider the source, not everyone’s opinion carries equal weight.”
“A great response is, “Say more about that.””
“A lot of “feedback” people offer (ahem, judgment, ahem) is more about that person themselves than it is about whatever I am doing.”
“Thinking in terms of clarifying instead of confronting can be helpful.”

Kim Knaak

“An example… We order small business delivery frequently. 9 times out of 10 something is missing from our order. I called back to tell them of the forgotten order. Their response to me was would you still like me to deliver that for you? I was thrown aback and said yes I would like it sent, it’s someone’s dinner. She got upset with me and said ma’am it’s not my fault, I didn’t pack up your order. So many things here and Tracy picked up on a big one – I missed the opportunity to educate them on a proper response to a customer. I was thrown off but I had an opportunity to help them in the future and I missed it. One thing that I would think should be learned from this is customer experience. No matter the industry, you are putting out a product, service, etc. If you do not deliver on your customer’s expectations let’s learn how to handle a proper response, or better yet teach another a proper response.”
“The customer is not always right but…. 1. Acknowledge the problem or potential problem 2. Apologize to the customer (if appropriate) and consider asking what could make the situation right for them 3. If the customer has taken the time to reach out to you, there is a potential for resolving the issue. They could have gone to instant online bashing. 4. Being mad is ok but it does not mean it’s the customer’s fault – like said above explain to them you are upset about the situation and want to make it better.”
“I think a lot of this also comes from the 4 personalities Bill often refers to. What personality are you dealing with when you are giving a response. Is there a great response that will be universal, or does it really depend on which personality type you are working with?”

Bill Sargent

“It is what it is; that’s OK. Then, make it right . . . no matter the cost.”
“A soft answer turns away wrath”
“”You’re a special kind of stupid” does not work. Just sayin'”

Shannon Lowenstein

“Use it as a teaching moment- whether it’s you learning how to handle it or your teaching someone how to have patience.”
“Use your southern hospitality”

Tracy Champagne

“…and that can get hard if you are in a bad mood and they are in a bad mood.. but all you can do is work on your bad mood or try to be your best self”
“self discipline is always learned at the think tank, with verbal skills, lol.”
“I really like the thoughtless part.. I think that happens alo or they misunderstand what you are saying or doing and say something based on their wrong perception.”

Caryn Willens

“Lengthen the response time from the reaction time.”

Today’s Attendees
As a thank you for attending, we want to give you a shout-out!

Tracy Champagne, Small Business Milwaukee

Small Business Digital Marketing, Website Design. Small Business Networking Events.
See all of my links here:

Debbie Kuras,SASI, Inc.

Employee Benefits Plans
[email protected]

Bill Sargent, CPP

Greater Milwaukee Area’s best Headshots:
Certified Professional Photographer
President of the Wisconsin Professional
Photographers Association

Joanna Carlberg, Joanna’s Digital Images

I am a portrait and event photographer in SE Wisconsin.
I specialize in photographing families and special events,
I digitally restore old photographs, and I am happy to help you with real estate and product photography and images and video for your website.
You can contact me through my website:,
on LinkedIn:,
on Instagram: or on Facebook:
Here is a link to my digital business card:

Shannon Ware

Your Heart-Centered Health Advisor
Individuals, families, entrepreneurs, small business
(713) 202 9271
[email protected]
V.P. of the Houston Holistic Chamber of Commerce- Ask how to join!
Let’s Connect!

Anne Richie, Professional Home Staging and Organizing, LLC

You can reach me at 904-534-4419 or [email protected] The website is  

Catherine Jozwik, Brewtown Buzz South

(, your friendly print/web guide to Milwaukee’s South Shore communities! I’m currently seeking print and web advertisers for my Spring 2022 Guide! I also offer writing services, including article/blog/content writing, editing, proofreading and press release writing. Contact me at [email protected] for ad rates and writing service rates.

Sara Deacon, Life Balance Coach

How’s your balance? Hi, I’m Sara Deacon, a life balance coach helping ambitious professionals create balance so that they can experience more freedom and fulfillment at work AND at home with their families. Right now I’m offering weekly “Holiday Balance” group calls every Tuesday afternoon at 1:00pm. Contact me for details or use this link:

Caryn Willens, Wellness Inspirations LLC 

Caryn Willens Introducing simple concepts to create health, wellness & balance for a better quality of life. Feel better, breathe easier, improved sleep. Easy lifestyle adjustments without changing your life.

Arnot Heron, Wisconsin Industrial Automation  

Continuous Improvement and I.T. Project Manager and Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt
[email protected]
I help companies improve processes, increase productivity and save money.

Written by Kim Knaak

Kim Knaak owns Opportunity’s Knaaking specializing is social media managment and digital consultations. You will also see Kim performing many duties around here as our Director of Membership Services with Small Business Milwaukee.

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