27 May Saving a social media nightmare
After a bad customer service experience, I took to social media to try to get a resolution and let others know about the poor service.
Unfortunately the company has yet to respond. Sadly, it appears the company might have lost more than my family’s business from this incident.
While I’m hardly an objective party in this case, I know a thing or two about responding to complaints.
Handling and responding to complaints in some form or another has been a part of my job for over a decade. I helped build the consumer complaint online form while at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. I have dealt with online complaints to websites for years and I’ve written articles about dealing with complaints, including having work published in college textbooks.
Sometimes we lose sight of the faces behind the computer. It’s easy to blow-off complainers when we can’t see them. Please don’t do that. Before taking any action, remember that this is a real person who is upset.
Then, think about these steps when you respond to a public relations crisis:
Apologize. Tell the complainer, first. Then make a sincere public apology. Don’t make excuses, don’t use the word “but.” This is about your business, not you. Do not let your pride get in the way of doing what’s right for your business. If you feel the need to explain, do so frankly and without getting defensive.
Make it right. If you have the ability to offer a free service, refund or repair, do it. Let your public networks know how you agreed to make things right for the consumer.
Don’t have the ability to make it right? Apologize again and let your public network know how you plan to make things right for future customers. Maybe the consumer is unwilling to take a free service after having a bad experience. It’s ok, just let them know you are truly sorry and you appreciate their feedback.
Correct the original problem. Fix your product or service, address customer service issues, deal with the underlying issues. Let your public network know about the changes you are making.
Don’t see anything to fix? Nobody likes to see the negatives in their business. So, make sure you are honest with yourself about potential areas to improve. If you still can’t find anything to work on, let things settle and keep your eyes open for similar complaints.
Yeah, but what if my business is not at fault?
Check your pride and ask yourself the following:
- Is the customer even a little right?
- Do you have the ability to make things better?
- Could it hurt my business more if I do nothing?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, start implementing steps 1 through 3.
Some complaints are completely unjustified. Maybe you provided stellar service, but the customer was having a bad day and didn’t see it that way. Apologize anyway. Kindness and sympathy can disarm hostilities, even unjust ones.