Customers’ service demands are dynamic, which can make meeting them – quickly and consistently – a challenge for any company. For this reason, businesses are adopting a more customer-centric focus, a necessary requirement for continued success. That said, customer service fails are still going to happen. But disappointed, even disgruntled customers don’t have to translate into lost business. In fact, if done correctly, you can turn a negative customer experience into an opportunity to forge a stronger bond.

When things go wrong, customers expect – and deserve – quick action, from acknowledging the issue to apologizing and acting to provide a solution or recovery.

One of the easiest – and most overlooked – ways to show customers you care is by listening attentively to their concerns. You’ve heard it before: put yourself in your customers’ shoes and view the problem from their point of view. But more than simply listening and understanding, it’s imperative to first acknowledge the problem. It can be easy to ignore and look the other way when a negative comment crosses one of your social media pages, but that’s a missed opportunity! For example, a study by Applied Marketing Science recently found that people who engaged with a customer service rep on Twitter were more likely to pay more for the brand or choose the brand more often, compared to those who didn’t interact with the brand on Twitter. The speed with which you respond to complaints is also critical. Acknowledge immediately, then move on to the next steps.

Don’t hesitate to apologize on behalf of your company, even if the customer was at fault. The goal here is to make customers whole and earn the right to continue the relationship. By acknowledging the problem and customers’ feelings and then apologizing for any inconvenience, you dramatically increase the likelihood of turning an unhappy customer into a loyal one. Again, speed is a critical factor in this step, as is tone and sincerity. Apologies should be made quickly and one-on-one, not via a public platform.

When performing service recovery, keep customers apprised of what steps you are taking and when they can expect a resolution. Also, learn how to be proactive in solving problems. If you become aware of a product defect, communicate this (and your recovery plan) immediately. Also, send surveys to gauge customers satisfaction with products, delivery, and customer service and follow up on any negative feedback. By keeping an open dialogue with customers, you can help ensure effective customer service.

An important factor in service recovery includes empowering front line staff. These employees can literally make a customer’s day in less than a minute if they have the right tools. Train and retrain on acknowledging, apologizing and acting and then celebrate the wins to build a truly customer-centric brand.

We help clients turn unhappy customers into raving fans every day. To learn more, contact us today.