Cleaning up Oil Spills — How to Turn a Negative Customer Experience into a Positive One

Say your company messed up, big time. Maybe they released a maps app that got people falling off bridges. Or, they put a large exploding battery into a flagship smartphone. Then there’s you — a lone soldier under siege on the Customer Support front. What can one person possibly do to prevent millions in damages, while keeping the company’s reputation safe and sound?

You might not know it, but you — the customer support specialist — have more influence over shaping opinions than marketing, or any other type of sweet talk department, combined. My company developed a method that will help you in finding your inner support hero, and turn you into the problem-solver you always wanted to be.

Let your customer express their emotions — Give them a chance to express their emotions and help them with properly explaining the problem. You’re the first line of defence.

Also, don’t react emotionally, don’t get angry, and don’t raise your tone or feel entitled to get back at them on their level.

Find a solution — After the client has laid out the problem, apply all your problem solving techniques, and ensure the customer that you’ll solve the problem that made them so angry in the first place. If no solution exists, offer more than one option It gives the customers a comforting sense of control and choice. Also, make sure you empathize with the customer, it will be easier for you to reassure them that you are on their side.

Good reputation goes far, and bad one even further — Sometimes a negative customer experience goes beyond you, and receives public attention. If that happens, you will need to respond to the public.

Depending on the size of the oil spill, take appropriate action — a post on your business Facebook page is a good start. If more than one customers are involved, writing a blog post should be the first thing to do.

Going public — Sometimes, things get a little bit more out of hand, and then you have to write a press release, or even respond to the press. But, don’t worry — Even major brands, like Netflix, know when to issue a public apology.

Be prepared for the next time — Make sure that you have a plan that identifies who should deal with a particular issue, and what to do if similar issues escalate in the future.

Sign of apology — When the issue has been resolved — offer your product or service as a gift and a proper sign of apology.

For example, if you can correct your mistake, offer them your product for free for a month or two, along with a freebie like a future discount, or even extra services. This will show them that you truly value them as your client.

Tackle the problem once and for all — After all has been said and done, take action to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.

Stay in touch — Contact the customer once after everything has been taken care of and verify that they are satisfied with the outcome. Tell them you appreciate them for bringing their complaint back to your company, so that you had the opportunity to fix the problem.

You should always go the extra mile for the customer. It may not always work, but the effort will usually be appreciated.

All of these steps above should turn the negative experience into a positive one, and turn you into a true support hero — the one who properly does damage control.

Finally, remember to always thank them for their business and for allowing you to help. After all, they are the customer.