The Best Defense Against Bad Word of Mouth

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Uber customer service snafus like Jet Blue aside, a business is bound to catch a customer on a bad day – or vice versa. This can spawn a fiery blog post which, in plain view of Google, can morph into an issue with “negative fiscal ramifications” for the business in question.

Amber - Waffle House Waitress

Some companies ignore bloggers and regret it. Other companies seem to overreact to their demands, er, requests. Some rants about a company/product/service read more like ransom notes or soap opera scripts. Perhaps I’m reading too much into them.

However, something clicked when I read Oliver Blanchard’s amazing experience with Sticky Fingers (mmm, ribs).

Instead of "making it right," smart companies responding to customer complaints are making it even better and exceeding customer expectations.

Paraphrasing Blanchard’s post at The Brand Builder Blog, reversing the cycle of negative word of mouth (online or offline) requires a few key elements.

1. Never blow off the complaint.

2. Do not make excuses.

3. Offer to address the issue – immediately.

4. Do not make a token gesture. Overdeliver.

6. Aim to earn back the customers trust, and their business.

7. Make the customer a hero. Over-delivering to them gives them the opportunity to spread the wealth and turn more people into excited, happy customers.

It may read unrealistic and it’s certainly not universally applicable. But you’ve already identified the customer as vocal. Why not use it to your advantage and give them something great to talk about?

Smart companies like Sticky Fingers aren’t overreacting or being excessive. They’re turning negative word of mouth into a strategic opportunity. Oversimply put, think bonus instead of band-aid when handling customer complaints.

Amber: Waffle House Waitress uploaded by shundaroni (mmm, waffles)

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The Best Defense Against Bad Word of Mouth
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