The Internet has changed the face of business forever.
Gone are the days when businesses could offend a customer and no one would know. Well -- except for family and close friends.
One unhappy customer can gain the attention of thousands of others.
If you've ever got caught in a customer firestorm -- whether on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn or any other online platform -- you know how out of control the situation can get.
But what if I told you that there's ONE word you could use to diffuse an upset customer and maintain brand loyalty?
Would knowing that word be valuable to you?
In this article, I not only share that one word, but also when and how to use it. With the info you're about to read here, you'll be equipped with a tool that can help turn negative situations into positive outcomes.
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The ONE Word That'll Make Customers Fall in LOVE With You
Have you ever heard the saying, “Sorry is the most difficult word to say”?
Novelist Craig Silvey wrote this:
Sorry means you leave yourself open, to embrace or to ridicule or to revenge. Sorry is a question that begs forgiveness, because the metronome of a good heart won't settle until things are set right and true. Sorry doesn't take things back, but it pushes things forward. It bridges the gap. Sorry is a sacrament. It's an offering. A gift.
We all make mistakes. We all sometimes let others down. But the real problem isn't that we don't get it right. No, the worst mistake is trying to excuse ourselves.
Count the cost of being right... and try a different approach when disagreements arise (and they WILL arise).
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Your best bet: Be honest, be vulnerable, be real
It's crucial to be transparent online. Others can sense when you are trying to pull a fast one -- and they will let you (and the rest of the world) know about it.
When's the best time to apologize?
Right now. The sooner the better.
Here are some examples of how customer happiness teams have embraced the opportunity to say "Sorry" and have begun the process of building trust again.
Examples of how to react online to an angry customer
Here's how a Dell rep reacted to a potentially ugly situation:
One thing to note first: Before you can respond, you must find out something is going on. Your business may not have the capability Dell has to watch social media channels 24/7 -- but could you have someone do it daily?
- STEP 1: Recognize the problem
- STEP 2: Take immediate steps towards resolving the issue
The Whirlpool example below quickly applies the same word Dell began with... "Sorry." Then, since the issue could not be solved immediately, the next logical step was taken: Collect information and let the customer know you are serious about solving the problem.
Take a look at the customer's response: "Thank you...!"
Also observe how these professional customer service responses personalize the communication. They both sign off with REAL NAMES and they provide contact details. That helps the customer feel acknowledged and appreciated.
The customers are told exactly who they are speaking with and how to get back in touch.
What if the Dell rep would have said, "Hey, man, that's Best Buy's problem!"
And what if Whirlpool had said, "We aren't responsible for installs. Talk to the store you bought the unit from!"
Would there be a quick and happy ending to either story?
Chances are Rachael and Cheong would still be making digs about how they were treated.
Always begin with "Sorry," then add a human touch and reassure the customer you are committed to making things right.
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Lowe’s Home Improvement responds to an unhappy customer in just 16 minutes
Time is of the essence when dealing with customer queries. Jay Baer says 42% of social media users expect to hear back from you within 1 hour! And that expectation doesn't change at night or on weekends.
The internet is a 24/7 opportunity to impress your customers!
Note how the Lowes Home Improvement team saw the issue and responded in 16 min. That's rockin' it.
And Lowe's not only responded quickly, but they gave the customer special contact information to show they were serious about helping resolve the issue.
Do you see where Lowe's fell short, though?
You got it: They failed to personalize the message. That made it feel almost robotic.
A bit off topic, but fun: Here’s how Bodyform used a personalized statement from a fictional CEO to not only reply to a Facebook "complaint" (tongue-in-cheek and probably planted), but to turn the event into a viral video.
Now that's marketing!
Key takeaways regarding social media and customer service
Here are some quick, actionable tips to keep your customers and clients happy :
How to save the day and be a hero on social media
- Begin by saying "Sorry!"
- Don't try to justify a mistake
- Be honest and transparent
- Take the next logical step towards a resolution
- Respond quickly - within an hour, if possible
- See the situation from the customer's point of view
- Don't argue online - move to email or direct messages for communication
What NOT to do on Facebook, Twitter... anywhere there are people:)
- Ignore comments
- Delete comments
- Copy and paste the same response to all fans
- Leave fans waiting more than 24 hr
- Reply back in a negative or flippant manner
- Shift the blame
Wrapping it up: The ONE Word That'll Make Customers Fall in LOVE with You
Even if you run a brick and mortar business and don't have a website. Even if you HATE the internet and wish it would go away, you are not exempt from getting slammed online.
People WILL talk about you online. It's a given. The only real question is "Will you join the conversation?"
And remember: You don't have to be wrong to say "I'm sorry."
"I'm sorry you're upset" isn't an admission of guilt -- it's a compassionate way to get started on a solution together.
Here's something to ponder: Is the customer always right? Why or why not?
Tell me in the comments below, and let's continue this conversation.