You might have read our recent blog post on word of mouth marketing where we talked about providing a great customer experience. Unfortunately we aren’t all perfect and we can’t provide a great customer experience 100% of the time. So what can you do when something falls through the cracks and for some reason you let your customers down? There is a way to win your customers back and even transform them into promoters for you. In this article you will learn the steps that you need to follow to achieve this.
I recently received an email from American Airlines that read: “This is a time when apologies aren’t enough”. The email was a great example of how to recover from a situation that creates frustrated customers.
As consumers, many times we are unhappy with the products or services that a company provides, however we are usually open to giving companies a chance to make it up to us.
There is something called service recovery. This is the business term for the process to win a customer back after losing them because you did something wrong. After you have damaged the relationship with your customer, you must act fast and follow these steps if you want a chance to turn that bad experience into an opportunity:
- Apologize and accept the facts
First you must let your customer know that you heard their complaint and that you accept your wrongdoing. Be upfront and take responsibility for what happened. Furthermore you must apologize for any damage or trouble that you may have caused. This apology is really a way for your customer to understand that you value them and their experience above all. In the American Airlines email they did a great job of accpeting resposibility.
- Solve the issue that caused the problem
Once you have apologized, make sure that you fix the problem. This can mean setting a process in place to avoid the issue from happening again or replacing a defective product or service. Make sure to communicate the fact that you acknowledged the problem and immediately fixed it. At the same time, make sure that the problem is fixed on an ongoing basis and that it won’t happen again to any customer. Although it is difficult to know from the American Airlines email exactly what changes they made, they at least claim to have made changes.
- Over compensate; make it up to them
Just like American Airlines said, “Apologies aren’t enough”. By apologizing and fixing the issue, you have basically brought things up to the original point where your service level should have been, but now it’s time to go the extra mile and ensure that your customer is compensated for showing you how to improve and for giving you a second chance. Send them a token of appreciation, whether it is a free product sample, a limited offer or even a hand written note or a call from your top executives. This extra effort will show that you really care and that you want them back! It will wow them and prompt them to tell their friends about the great experience they had with your company.
Following those three simple steps can help you not only get a customer back, but also gain a lifetime evangelist. By showing a customer that you care, you are generating more goodwill than you might think. Once a customer is heard, he feels understood, he feels that you care. The fact that you accept the problem, apologize, and then not only solve the problem but actually go the extra mile to make it up to them will leave a long-lasting positive mark. This type of loyalty is hard to get, but once you have it, you will have a happy customer who will promote your business for years to come.