LEAD

How to Satisfy Unhappy Customers and Protect Your Brand

Listen, apologize, and make amends

Share on
BY Tanya Mariano - 16 Feb 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

No matter how smoothly you try to run your business, setbacks are unavoidable, and you can't exactly please everyone. And in today's hyper-connected world, it takes just a few clicks for an unsatisfied customer to complain online and tarnish the reputation you’ve worked so hard to polish.

Of course, it's your job to appease irate clients and make amends. Here’s how some customer service pros are doing it.

 

1. Seek them out

Be on the lookout for negative sentiments floating online.

This is something e-commerce company Lazada has learned to do. They don't wait for the customer to reach out to them, says Inanc Balci, co-founder and CEO of Lazada Philippines. Instead, they actively monitor forums and social media channels.

“Because some customers, they don’t bother telling us. They don’t want to spend time telling us, but they write on social media. We reach out to them and we try to fix the

problem even before they tell us there’s a problem.”

 

2. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes

You can't help them if you don't understand them, and so listening intently and clarifying uncertainties without getting defensive is crucial.

A little empathy doesn't hurt, too. According to a company spokesperson at Shopee, an online marketplace owned by Singapore-based Garena, “We understand and acknowledge our customer’s feelings and needs, before finding a solution for them. We do so by conveying our understanding of how they feel, and expressing a sincere desire to help them.”

Aside from wanting to resolve an issue, sometimes, an angry customer just needs to vent. By letting them know that you understand where they're coming from, you validate their thoughts and feelings and, thus, help calm them.

 

3. Apologize and offer freebies

Say you're sorry for whatever inconvenience they’re experiencing, and start to make amends. The folks at Shopee try to go the extra mile: “We never have a customer leave on a bad note. Instead, we always try to turn a negative situation into a positive one by asking ourselves, ‘What else can I do to help?’”

You can do so, for instance, by giving out refunds, vouchers, or offering for free something that you would normally charge for.

Making amends is important. Marcela De Vivo, CEO of digital marketing agency Gryffin, thinks you should appease the customer no matter what. In this Inc. article, De Vivo says, "The problem with walking away and leaving them angry is that those angry customers can then use online review systems to disparage your company. At some point everyone can be appeased, you just have to keep trying and offer them something to make the problem go away… Whether it's offering them a refund or free products/services – it's worth keeping them happy."