It can happen to any business of any size: A customer isn't happy with your product or service and decides to express his or her displeasure, and once this happens, it's pretty tough to win that customer back.
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"It's a real challenge [to earn back] trust and loyalty where a disappointed customer is concerned," said Danny Rippon, chief solutions officer at customer engagement solutions provider Thunderhead.com. "The ideal scenario is to avoid disappointing customers in the first place, [but sometimes] there are gaps in what customers expect and what companies are able to deliver."
According to recent research by Thunderhead, 1 in 5 customers will stop trusting a company after one bad experience, and 25 percent will switch brands completely. Moreover, nearly one-third of customers will share a bad experience on social media or other public forum, which could potentially reach hundreds of thousands of other consumers. [Customer Service 2.0: Satisfying Customers in the Digital Age]
As Rippon said, it's always better to avoid disappointments whenever possible, but the occasional negative experience is more or less unavoidable. So what does it take to persuade a customer to give you another chance? Personalized, targeted engagement is the best place to start.
"The key thing you need to do to win back customers is to put the value back into the relationship," Rippon told Business News Daily. "Sometimes things can go wrong even with your best intentions. As long as you ensure that all communication is timely, relevant and personalized to the individual who had the negative experience, you should still be able to recover the situation."
Thunderhead's research found that waiting too long or sending out platitudes when addressing an upset customer will only make matters worse. The vast majority of customers (93 percent) indicated that they wouldn't change their opinion about a company if it didn't act quickly enough to remedy a bad experience, and 82 percent said they were disappointed by companies who take a "one-size-fits-all" approach to customer service.
Rippon said that valuable customer relationships are only possible when departmental siloes are taken down, and the customer is truly placed at the center of your business. When a customer has a bad experience with one department of your company, and you respond based only on that isolated incident, you're failing to take that customer's individual journey with your company into account.
"Remove the organizational barriers that prevent offering value-based interactions," Rippon said. "Being relevant and having a customer engagement strategy [should be] a broad-level mandate."
Using the person's overall experience with your brand can help you offer a more meaningful response and/or solution. For example, the information you serve to a customer who has done research on your website or made a purchase in the past is very different from the content you'd give to someone who's visiting your website for the first time.
"It's about having value all the time," Rippon said. "If you add value for a customer, they'll rarely leave you."
Originally published on Business News Daily