So you have just had the worst interaction with a customer? To make things even worse, it happened on social media in a public forum where everyone could see it. Once you’ve cooled off, you should realize that it doesn’t matter if you were justified in challenging the customer or not. You are always going to come off worse. People are always going to view what you did as unprofessional.
And with word of mouth marketing being the primary factor in half of all purchasing decisions, you are potentially risking the future of your business.
If you allow the situation to slide, it’s going to contribute towards an overwhelmingly negative reputation. You need to do something about that. Here’s what you can do to deal with the prospect if a negative reputation following a bad interaction with a customer.
Apologize to All Offended Parties
The first course of action is to apologize to customers. If the mistake happened in a public setting, the apology should also be in a public setting. It may mean swallowing your pride because in many cases the customer is in the wrong, but none of that matters and your target audience isn’t going to stick around to let you plead your case.
Once you have apologized to the person publicly, you should go out of your way to apologize privately to the person. It doesn’t have to be a long and dramatic message. A few lines explaining what you did wrong and how it will never happen again will do.
You need to show how sorry you are, not just tell people. Too often companies are known for impersonal public statements when they have done something they shouldn’t have. Unfortunately, this tends to do nothing to solve the situation at hand and it leaves the company coming off in a bad way.
The easiest way to show how sorry you are is to offer something in the form of compensation. This can be anything from a discount on future purchases to a free bonus that they normally wouldn’t be entitled to. It doesn’t have to be anything of great value, either. Even little tokens can go a long way to repairing a bad relationship.
What if the Response is Negative?
In an ideal world, online shoppers would accept your peace offering and that would be the end of the matter. But some people won’t accept your apology and they will continue to sully your good name whenever they can. There’s little you can do about this.
Don’t grovel to the customer and don’t offer them even more compensation, in an attempt to silence them. In this case, you should rise above it and move on. You have done everything you can and if the customer still isn’t responsive there’s little use in dwelling on it.
Particularly when it comes to a public apology, the goal isn’t to have the customer forgive you. The goal is to show any lurkers that you made a mistake and you are a strong enough character to admit it. This may well win over other people, even if you have lost one customer for life.
Don’t Do It Again
These steps can go a long way to making sure your online reputation is always in a good place. On the other hand, you can’t necessarily stomach multiple instances in a short period of time. If you keep making the same mistakes over and over again, it proves to the general public you aren’t learning from your mistakes.
Whenever a bad interaction happens, you need to examine why it happened. It could well be a fault with one of your products, or one of your customer service agents could have messed up. Seek out the root cause of the interaction and address the situation accordingly.
For example, this may be the wake-up call you need to send your entire customer service unit on a training course. It may require no more than a quiet talk with the person involved.
You as the CEO has to make this decision.
Conclusion – Customer Service is a Minefield
Customer service is always a tricky industry because you can be entirely right and it can leave you looking worse for it. This is an industry where you have to treat everyone with respect, even if that person happens to be antagonizing. The goal is to always remain professional and not get distracted by being right all the time.
What challenges have you come across?