Most new businesses don’t view customers as integral to their PR and marketing campaigns. For the most part, the focus is on big ads, free promotion, and landing endorsement deals.
And then, it happens. A dissatisfied customer creates a scene in your place of business, or takes to social media to rip your brand apart. Negative reviews of your restaurant show up on Yelp, and someone marks your website and company as a scam online.
And there goes your reputation. This is often when businesses call on PR specialists to do damage control. While this is a great response to crises, it should be the last resort.
The first line of business should involve building a great relationship with your customers, and resolving all complaints promptly and fairly. Here’s how.
Be Easy to Reach
When customers become frustrated and create a scene online or off, always keep their real goal in mind.
It’s not a malicious attempt to tear your company apart, or start you on the road to bankruptcy. It’s because they want to be heard; and many businesses only pay attention when the situation gets out of hand.
Don’t be that business. Either you or your customer service team should be reachable by phone, email, social media, or even live chat on your website. The more open channels of communication, the better.
In most instances where customers become frustrated enough to go public with their complaints, the company either failed to respond or to resolve the issue in a timely manner. This is because many companies open up numerous channels for communication, but then never monitor them.
There are times, however, when a long resolution process can’t be helped. In these instances, companies should work to ensure customers that someone is looking into their claims and will get back to them soon.
It’s also a good idea to keep customers informed as the complaint works its way through the various stages to resolution.
Train the Face of your Company
With the coming of the industrialized age, many companies adopted a work process heavily based on the specialization of labor. This essentially means that in most businesses, there are specific people, teams, or departments that handle clusters of related tasks.
When businesses apply this ideology to customer service, the end result is that the other key personnel who interact with customers on a daily basis, fail to think of themselves as customer service reps.
Because of this, it’s important to train everyone who has direct contact with customers on how to handle complaints. This includes the waiters, cashier, front desk, sales reps, and even security.
All these people impact your customers’ experience – good or bad – with your brand. Training them helps to ensure it’s a good one.
Empower your Workers
Even well-trained employees can only do so much and no more if they don’t have the authority they need to make independent decisions. If every decision and every complaint has to go through management or be forwarded through customer service reps and tech-support, you’re creating a bottleneck.
Thus, along with being trained, workers coming into contact with your customers and clients should have the power to resolve some issues on their own. This may be in the form of providing basic advice, offering discounts, or issuing refunds.
Hire a Community Manager
Some customers are just not as assertive as others. Rather than seek a solution, these customers prefer to just complain, and usually on social media. In fact, we’ve all fallen into this behavior at some point or other in our lives.
Community managers help to restore and keep the peace by seeking out these individuals across various platforms. They then offer assistance. Community managers also help to grow your business by providing your product or service as a solution to other companies’ dissatisfied customers.
This may sound a lot like a social media manager, and though both roles often overlap, there is a key difference. A social media manager’s primary goal is to talk. A community manager’s primary goal is to listen.
Good customer service should be the cornerstone of any business. This helps to build a reputation founded on great relationships with customers and clients who keep coming back; and who bring new customers with them.
If you’re interested in working with a community manager to oversee your brand’s reputation online send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Alexis Chateau is the Founder and Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR. She is an activist, writer, and explorer. Follow her stories of trial and triumph at www.alexischateau.com.