What to Do When Customers Turn Against You
By Business Desk
Thursday, September 8, 2016.
Something has gone wrong. You may not even be quite sure what it is yet, but it’s clear your company has made a serious misstep. You’re getting email after email filled with complaints. You’re being tagged in Tweets calling you out on your misbehavior. Your Facebook wall is being flooded with messages from angry customers. The people have turned.
It’s happened to many companies in the past. In fact, it seems that every month this sort of thing happens to some of the most popular companies in the world. So how exactly do they survive this chaos? How does a company survive such a massive hit to their reputation? How can they win back the trust of their customers and clients?
Whatever it is your company did, there are usually ways back to recovery. You’ve just got to play your cards right during this sensitive time. Here’s what you need to do when your customers seem to have turned into haters.
No matter how many messages you’re getting, it’s important that you pay attention to everything as much as you can. It may not always be easy to read this sort of stuff, but you have to try not to look at it as a personal attack. People are mad at your company, for whatever reason. They may be convinced that you’re not going to pay attention to them. Prove them wrong by treating everyone’s complaint as a sacred text.
Apologies (without the blame-shifting)
One of the most common reasons that this sort of thing happens in modern business? Oddly enough, it’s usually because a company has said something over Twitter that people don’t like. And what’s one of the cringiest things that a company does in this situation when they’re in damage control mode? They claim they were hacked. Maybe it was true. But don’t be tempted to say such a thing unless you actually were hacked. And if you were, that’s still on you; after all, it was probably the fault of lax security on your part.
Don’t put a premium on blaming hackers or other departments, or anyone else for that matter. Focus on the apology and making it right. Explanations can come later.
It could be that you need some help with your public relations in this situation. If you don’t have much experience dealing with something like this, you may want to consult someone. You could speak to a follow businessperson who has dealt with this situation themselves. You could research the past examples of other companies. There are also services like Reputation Rhino that specialize in online public relations.
Solving the problem - and detailing the solution
Don’t focus on the salvaging of your reputation as the priority problem. As I implied earlier, visible damage control can sometimes make your reputation worse. The number one problem on your table right is what caused this whole mess. Ensure that it’s dealt with as quickly and effectively as possible. And when that’s done, don’t just announce on social media that its “dealt with”. Tell everyone how you’re dealing with it and why you think the solution will do the trick. And what do you plan to do going forward to ensure it doesn’t happen again? Let them know.