No matter how hard businesses try, sometimes there is little that can be done to avoid a bad customer experience. Take the ‘bent iPhone’ saga of 2014 for example. Knowing Apple, they likely performed the necessary quality checks, but sometimes the unexpected happens and businesses must be prepared to deal with the fall out.

The stakes are higher than ever.  Customers can let a business – and the world – know about a poor experience with just a click.  Companies like Yelp have built a business on the online praise and complaints of the consumer community.  There are more avenues to complain and more competition to scoop up dissatisfied customers.  As a result, it’s important for businesses to make sure there is no discrepancy in what customers want and what businesses can offer them.  No easy task.

In this new era of customer service, businesses cannot afford to provide anything less than a seamless, drama-free customer experience if they want to build loyalty that yields long-term results. A recent research report from Ovum found that 82 per cent of customers will not do business with the same brand again after one bad experience. While that’s a scary number, there is a lot that businesses can do to turn a bad experience into a favourable one.  According to Lee Resources, 70 per cent of customers will do business again if a complaint is resolved in their favour.  So how do we make it right?

Be Proactive

Once a business becomes aware of the negative experience, let the customer immediately know you are on the case and doing everything possible to rectify the damage. Constant communication across channels will ensure that customers are well informed at every turn about the effort you are putting in.  Going above and beyond the regular call of duty helps restore the consumer’s confidence in the brand.

Emphasis on First Contact

First contact isn’t always an angry phone call – it can be made through social media or other 3rd party platforms as easily as it can be made directly to you.  However you find out about the bad experience, be sure the customer service team takes advantage of that first interaction to rectify as much of the damage as they can.

Whether it be to provide the missing information or replace a faulty product, customer service staff must be equipped to provide the right kind of support necessary for rebuilding the damaged relationship the first time they speak with the customer.

According to a report from Oracle, among the respondents who reported an increase in first contact resolution over the previous 12 months, 75 percent indicated a resulting increase in customer satisfaction.

Make Sure the Issue Is Fully Resolved

A sincere apology will only take you so far.  Nothing is better than actually fixing the issue. As mentioned earlier, 70 per cent of customers will do business again if a complaint is resolved in their favour – which means there is a lot of value in saving the relationship. Make sure your customer service staff is reminded of this when they are dealing with customer complaints and are empowered to explore every available avenue to make sure that issues are resolved. A resolved issue goes a long way in rebuilding customer confidence and putting things back on track.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Most customer experience issues can be prevented all together by forming good habits from the start. Making sure you are invested in offering a quality product or service – one where questions and complaints should be an anomaly.

Beyond that, though, work to develop a customer service strategy including the proper tools and training to help the agents be successful.  Understand your customers – who they are and the way they like to interact and ensure those channels are available, seamlessly work together, and effective for delivering fast resolutions.   Finally, know that the work is never done.  Businesses must constantly improve – both the product they are selling and the service and support they are delivering.

As we enter into this new era of customer service, it’s important for all businesses to ensure – to the best of their ability – a superior experience for their customers each and every time they interact.  Of course, even the most beloved brands have bad turn every now and again.  What sets them apart is how they handle it.  They see their customers through that negative experience, right the wrong, and ultimately turn customer service into a competitive differentiator.   A bad customer experience is never ideal but thankfully it is not always the end of the world.

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