There is an adage that when a person experiences good service, they may tell one person, but when they experience bad service, they will tell ten people.

Ten people!

Ah, the good old days, when unhappy customers only told ten people!

In our social media age, people tell everyone when something bad happens. Everyone. Not only that but they tell them immediately and at some length. When emotions are high, and customers are most angry, then the rant will be instantly available to any human being with a connected device.

They don’t hold back, either. Upset customers go hard and go public with all the details they know. Often they are not too worried about fact checking. Importantly, their friends aren’t too concerned about the facts either. Friends will chime in with their experiences that may or may not be relevant, to show empathy or even try to be angrier.

Unlimited Power!

In 2017, the customer has unlimited power – general media and social media do not judge or filter disaffected customers. Some people may just have a laugh while competitors experience both schadenfreude and relief they weren’t under fire on this occasion.

Of course, the internet echo makes this much worse. The angry person tells one hundred people, then those people share it with another hundred people each. Maths isn’t my strong point, but it’s obvious that this is not a good outcome!

In 2017, businesses have to be hyper aware of their reputation. Every customer interaction is critical. 100% satisfaction has to be the goal. This holds true whether in B2B, B2C and, most especially in public office.

Make everyone happy

The best strategy is to have a business where no customer is ever annoyed. Perfect customer satisfaction need not be as hard as it sounds. When growing your business, be discerning about the clients you accept. Don’t chase revenue that will cost you in the long run and be very careful about making growth your priority above all else.

Build robust, flexible processes that include checks and balances. Don’t wait for red lights, but instead, react to the warning signs. Set KPIs at levels that trigger corrective action before the ship hits the iceberg.

The next best strategy and the only remaining viable one is to own the situation where a customer is dissatisfied. Okay, the system has failed and now it is time to deal with the fallout. You need to be entirely responsible for the occurrence and let the world know you appreciate the gravity of the situation. Be willing to accept the consequences.

Importantly, you need to be able to talk about what happened, why it happened, and how your company will work its darndest to ensure you will do better next time.

When something goes wrong, do not pretend that no one will find out! Do not hope for one second that there are people who are out there who are not as intelligent as you. Do not hope that bad news, mistakes and negative reviews will not see the light of day. Above all, do not assume that people will remain silent!

No cover ups

Do not be Volkswagen!
The emission scandal has turned into death by 19 billion cuts. Could all this have been prevented if someone, somewhere had put their hand up and said: “Hang on, this isn’t going to work forever!”?

“Damage control” is not possible unless you are fully transparent. Media organisations will continue to circle and sniff out any hidden bad news. That’s their job. And you still have to deal with the constant flood of social media sharing and resharing! Damage control is recognised by statements such as “I apologise for the error of judgement”, “We’re sorry for the inconvenience caused” and, “I’m sorry if anyone was offended.” These non-apologies just make the situation worse.

Get on the front foot

Be Lucy Lloyd from Mentorloop.
“With our last two feature releases we have paid lip service to user engagement” – that’s owning the problem right there. Mentorloop’s reputation has grown. They’ve turned the loss of a client into a positive change factor in their business in a move that will pay off in the long term.

Companies can’t fake this attitude either – just as a business can’t be mostly ethical, one cannot be somewhat responsible. We have to dive into the deep end and be people who understand that things happen and running and hiding is not a solution.

We are required to maintain a state of constant alertness and awareness. But, more importantly, it means we cannot fake it. Businesses must genuinely be concerned and interested in every single customer and supplier interaction.

Because, while unhappy customers have unlimited power, happy customers also have significant power. Positive feedback, reviews and endorsements are rare and all the more valuable due to their rarity.

Let’s go and create delighted customers!

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