Never has customer service been as important as it is today. With social media, online review sites and blogs, the customer oftentimes has more of a voice and influence than a company does. Budgets no longer matter as the power of influence has shifted. Customers have the power to shape the perceptions of a businesses brand, for better or worse.
But that doesn’t mean that the “customer is always right,” a long standing mantra for businesses everywhere.
Keeping customers happy is critical, but in many ways the pendulum has swung too far in their favor. What I mean by that is that because customers have so much of a voice and so many platforms to weigh in, their expectations are now higher and in many cases, skewed. Customers can sometimes become unreasonable in their demands, expecting to get whatever they ask because they have the leverage of a poor review or a nasty tweet. With small businesses this is even more pronounced, because in general they are less “well known.” If someone says online they were unhappy with a company like Best Buy, chances are that’s not going have the same impact that it would for a local dry cleaner. People are more likely to “move on” when it comes a small business option after one bad review.
The challenge is knowing how to navigate the tricky waters of a public spat with a customer on Facebook, a blog or Yelp, including when to finally give up and disengage when you’ve done all you possibly can. There are ways to step away from an angry customer and still retain a good reputation in the minds of others. Here are three tips on how to navigate a situation like this:
Over a long enough timeline in business an unhappy customer is inevitable, you can’t make everyone happy 100% of the time. But by spelling out clearly what has been done and the effort that has been put in, you’re showing customer service is important to the business and potential customers.
Have you had to deal with an angry customer in a public forum? How did you deal with it? Was it a positive or negative resolution?
Jason is the Senior Communications Manager at Vistaprint, where he and his team are deeply involved with small businesses and lead the efforts in mining micro business trends, behaviors, and attitudes through various research studies and analysis. A former journalist with more than a decade of experience in the communications field, he has also spent time working for a number of small businesses in New England, giving him a unique perspective of the issues facing them on a daily basis. To reach him directly email firstname.lastname@example.org.