How to Turn Around a Bad Customer Experience

You’ve really stepped in it, haven’t you? Forget the phrase “the customer is always right,” because this time there isn’t a doubt in anyone’s mind that the customer WAS right…and you’ve made said customer angry. Very angry. Stop! Take a deep breath. Did you know that your brand can actually use a failure as an opportunity to build a better relationship with your customer?

A lot of times, we get so wrapped up in managing a customer experience poorly that we forget it’s okay to make mistakes. Even the biggest, best companies have been known to experience a blooper or two.  That being said, what is important isn’t that you made a mistake. It’s how you approach repairing the problem. Most companies tend to jump onboard the “fix what’s broken” train. They try to fix where the error first originated. Here’s a for instance:

I once purchased a laptop that would shut down when an error occurred–but then it would constantly reboot, never returning me to the home screen. Hours of on-phone trouble-shooting later, I was asked to bring my device in. When the on-site techs couldn’t fix it, they wanted to send the computer out for repairs, leaving me laptop-less. Needless to say, I was less than pleased. After two weeks, my laptop was returned to me–and less than a month later I was experiencing the exact same reboot problem. I also experienced the same cycle of troubleshooting and sending off my computer to the same experts who had fixed it the first time.

Perhaps you’ve never experienced this exact scenario, but you’ve probably gone through something similar. In many cases, the company trying to make the repair certainly means well, but we the customer are left feeling less than appreciated. According to the AMA, companies need to get their buyer-seller ratios back into balance in order to make things right again.

Correcting the original problem is a good start, but it doesn’t equalize the ratios because the same set of consumer benefits is now divided by a larger collection of costs. Companies must, therefore, either add additional benefits or reduce consumers’ costs in order to really make things right…When organizations rebalance the benefit-cost ratios, the narrative completely changes. Instead of withdrawing or complaining, consumers start sharing their outstanding customer service experiences, for example, “I only paid $XXX for this computer.””

When a service failure occurs (as they will–don’t be too hard on yourself!) it’s important to keep a level head. Additionally, introducing Purple Goldfish into the customer experience, can help alleviate some of the pains associated with mistakes.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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One thought on “How to Turn Around a Bad Customer Experience

  1. Terrific advice.

    There’s something called the Peak-End rule that explains why over-recovering from a service failure is such a powerful approach.

    People tend to remember two things about their experience: the Peak, which is the part that’s most unexpected or different from normal; and the End which is the last thing that happened.

    So over-recovering from a service failure is a huge Peak. You instantly go from bad experience to great experience and burn a lasting memory in your customer’s brain. If that’s also the last thing you do, it’s the End experience too, which makes it a double-whammy positive memory!