protecting company reputation by dealing with angry customers

A lot of companies are not aware of the impact that angry customers have on their company reputation. The value of a happy customer is well understood but the influence and potential of an angry customer should never be underestimated. The anger of social media empowered customers can easily go viral and inspire movement. The number of tweets that go out on a daily course are normally complaints and all it takes to send your company’s reputation down the drain is the right hash-tag at the right moment to turn one person’s gripe into a social media maelstrom. The outrage will have an impact, negative reviews on social media influence the public’s decisions on whether or not to but a certain product or service. As a result, that one customers anger which a business can ignore to be voiced on-line results in people feeling mistrustful of the business in general. Angry customers are translating into lost businesses and damaged company reputations.

It makes a difference how a company responds to an angry customer, make it a point to understand what motivates customer anger and refrain from doing it. Companies must seize the opportunity to convert this anger back into love, doing this takes more than well- meaning replies on social media or apologetic e-mails. Fixing it will require rebuilding of trust through meaningful engagement that leads to real understanding. An investment in on-going conversations with your customers yields deep insight about your customers, this will help your company emerge from an outbreak of customer anger. Knowing and understanding your customers will help you pro-actively reduce the chance of anger taking root.

Be careful of responding the wrong way to an angry customer as this would only make matters worse. The worst thing a company can do is to ignore a situation or respond to it late after it has blown out of proportion. It is important to respond immediately and appropriately, an appropriate response would address the customer’s complaints or concerns and then render an apology to the customer. Remember, customers will spend more with companies that provide excellent service and respect them.

The 4 common mistakes often made by companies that often lead to putting their reputation at stake are:

  • Ignoring customer anger

Ignoring makes you appear aloof and disinterested which leads to further anger and creates a need to express the anger on social media where people will be willing to listen.

  • Dismissing concerns

This damages company reputation and allows the problem to fester

  • Forgetting that the customer is your priority

Your company has one reason for being and that is to provide value to a customer, if you don’t, you are out of business.

  • Digging in your heels

When it gets serious and there is a growing public outrage, attempting to run away from it only makes matters worse, this creates a platform for enemies to blow this out of proportion, before you know it the story will be exaggerated beyond repair and this will make it harder to respond constructively in future. The right way to respond to anger would be listening to customer complaints, giving real consideration to their suggestions, knowing the customer and putting their anger into context and finally acting on changes rather than delaying. Companies must understand that complaints are useful, no one knows your company like your customers and it is important to understand the kind of brand identity your company portrays. Companies must start seeing complaints as plentiful and easily harvested form of feedback.

Four rules of turning anger into love which will contribute towards maintaining a good reputation for your company are:

  • Listen to your customers

When attacked on-line, people think the best solution is to not engage, the exact opposite is true for companies. Failing to listen gives a problem time to fester.

  • Take their ideas seriously

Usually complaints come with suggestions of how things might be done differently. No one knows your product more than your customers, they are right as the users of the product or service you offer.

  • Engage with customers on an on-going basis

You need to know your angry customers in order to make things right with them.

  • Act on changes

Act on what you have learnt from their suggestions, customer intelligence is about actionable intelligence.

The age of the empowered customer is also the age of the angry customer. People are good at complaining and the Internet offers an unprecedented platform to amplify their grievances. It’s a dangerous time to be a business that doesn’t put its customers first and make a sincere effort to know and understand them. But it’s a great time to be customer-centric, because anger is feedback. Companies that get to know their customers, and especially, the angry ones. They have an opportunity like never before to meet demand and drive innovation toward success.

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