An unhappy customer can have far greater impact now than in the past. In fact, a complaint before the advent of Twitter and Facebook would usually only reach the disgruntled customer’s most immediate contacts. Now it can be seen by ten times as many people because it can be broadcast far beyond those circles.
No matter how good your products and services are, you will undoubtedly have some critics because people are more likely to tell someone else when they are disappointed for some reason. Besides, mistakes occasionally happen. The good news is that a complaint can be converted to help build your business rather than weakening it. Here’s how:
- Pay attention – Monitor social media to be aware of any grievances. As soon as you see a potential problem brewing begin to check into it.
- Have a response policy – Anticipate how you will respond to any criticism of your company. Predict the kinds of things that could go wrong as you conduct business and determine how you will react before you need to do so.
- Quickly gather background information – Avoid knee-jerk reactions by checking into the facts before you respond.
- Post an early response – Even if you cannot resolve the matter immediately you will need to let people know that you are concerned. Tell them that you appreciate having the issue brought to your attention, customer satisfaction is paramount, and you will get back with solutions very soon.
- Be concerned but not defensive – React to the situation with sincerity but avoid making excuses. Quickly describe the situation and give your suggestions for resolution. Address complaints by offering a correction of the immediate situation, an adjustment for that customer, and a policy concerning avoiding similar issues in the future.
- Follow-up – Make sure that everyone knows that there was a resolution. Take all aspects that go beyond the easiest considerations offline. Be aware that some people will never be satisfied because they are cranks or scammers. Occasionally it is necessary to accept defeat.
If you are sincere and direct, in most cases you can turn bad press into increased loyalty and positive regard from your customers. A negative incident can be an opportunity to strengthen your business.