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Managing Customer Complaints and Tough Situations

We have all been there. Sometimes a customer interaction goes poorly, or you get an angry message in your inbox about your company or a situation. What do you do?

How you handle this interaction can have further consequences, so always keep that in mind. The reality is that bad news seems to travel much quicker than positive news.

If it's not a face-to-face interaction, sleep on it. We are all human. We can't help taking things personally. If you, your business, or your staff are being hammered in a letter, on your website, or social media, take a pause.

After taking a moment, look at the situation as best as possible from the other person's perspective. Does the person have any merit at all? Or is the other party just angry and coming out of left field?

Did You Do Something Wrong?

If you have some fault in the situation, take ownership and apologize. Admitting guilt immediately can save a brand's reputation. Statistics have shown that if you're a doctor, one of the best ways to respond to a medical error is to apologize. A sincere apology decreases the incidence of medical malpractice claims.

Never ignore the situation because it can come back to bite you in negative reviews online or, even worse, bad word of mouth in conversations. When a person chooses to spend their valuable time telling you about a negative experience, what do you remember? Usually, it's the person, place, or thing and the word "bad," "horrible," or whatever choice adjectives the person used when talking about their interaction.

When You're Being Treated Unfairly

Conversely, what if the complaint is unreasonable? How do you respond? The answer is it depends. If the post or review is public, and you know the person, reach out to the person. See if you can smooth out the situation. If you resolve the problem amicably, request that the person remove their public complaint.

If the person is not known to you, you can state your business's merits and use the opportunity to repeat the strengths of your company's reputation. Use neutral terms. Steer clear of using defensive language. Take your personal feelings out of the situation when crafting your response. If you're unsure if it sounds neutral, ask a trusted associate to give it a read for a second opinion.

However, if the negative post or review you're responding to contains foul or lewd language, hate speech, or private details, report it to the online organization for removal and ignore it. Most reasonable people reading the post will view it as inflammatory and worthless.

Ultimately, the bottom line is to practice good customer service. Treat every customer as if reporters and a crowd of people are standing over you, watching and judging that interaction. Choose your words wisely in your interactions. As any good doctor will tell you, prevention is always cheaper than the cure.

It's hard always to be our best, and sometimes we're not. In those moments when we fall, get back up and apologize for a terse response or if you failed to do something. It can be so much more expensive to repair a reputation than to preserve it.

In case you need some help with reputation building, preservation, or repair, MISKAFIED Communications can help.

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