There are few businesses that are able to exist as singular, closed entities. Most modern companies rely on other companies for something, whether that’s efullfilment, hosting, deliveries, or customer service. This makes providing quality service from beginning to end a true challenge, and makes it all the more painful if things go wrong and you get a bad review.
Power for the Consumer
Sites like Yelp, CitySearch, and TripAdvisor put a lot of power in the hands of the consumer. If your delivery is late, your food stale, or the bathroom in your hotel dirty, a disgruntled consumer can easily tell the world about their horrible experience, damaging your reputation.
Even a consumer that doesn’t want to take the time to register on a specialist consumer review website and post a long, detailed review can still do a lot of damage. An off the cuff tweet about a bad experience could be seen by thousands of people, and could have a big impact on your bottom line.
How You Respond Matters More than the Legitimacy of the Complaint
One of the most important parts of brand management is responding correctly to complaints. If the complaint is legitimate, acknowledge it and do everything that you can to put it right. If you feel that the complaint is not justified, acknowledge it, and see what you can do to resolve the problem in the eyes of the consumer.
If the complaint was caused by a different company – perhaps rude customer service from a group that you outsourced to, don’t pass the blame on to them. To the customer, any correspondence that bears your logo, and any person using your company name, is a representative of your company. They don’t care about the practicalities of outsourcing and contracting; all they want is a good experience with everyone they deal with. When you’re talking to the customer, own the mistakes of the companies you work with. Deal with the outsourcing companies privately, and if they can’t resolve the problems in a timely fashion, find another supplier or contractor that you can trust to represent your brand.
Be Personable, but Don’t Make it Personal
When you’re dealing with customers, be polite and friendly. Offering your real name, instead of being a faceless company representative, goes a long way towards making a good impression. However, you should still remain professional. Don’t take complaints personally, and don’t get drawn into arguments or hostile debates.
Remember that you can’t please every customer. Listen to their feedback, and be open to the possibility that they are making a valid point, but don’t try to please everyone. Sometimes, you will encounter someone that is only out for compensation or that will never be happy with you no matter what you do. Rise above those kinds of complaints and focus on providing the best service you can for the people that genuinely appreciate the products and services that you provide.
This post was written by James Harper on behalf of Hallmark Consumer Services the internet fulfilment specialists.