How you handle customer complaints can either spark a trailblazing public relations campaign or a trail of blazes for your brand. The days wherein companies handle customer complaints by leading them up the garden path and little else, are gone. With the viral and amplifying capacities of social media and other fast evolving digital platforms, there are many options in how to better handle customer complaints to avoid costly repercussions. The last thing you need is to have an irate customer broadcasting bad vibes to your prospective customers.
Complaints are inevitable in any line of business. From one angle, they could be lead-ins to negative publicity. But, if smartly handled, their public relations value is capable of enhancing the perception of your car wash brand manifold. As you might have heard, when a customer is satisfied, they will tell 8 people in their on-the-ground network. However, if they are dissatisfied, that number almost triples to 22! With social media …, you get the gist.
Back in the mid 80’s Subaru vehicle owners called the manufacturer’s toll-free complaints line to complain about their badly written car user manual. Their response was to revamp the entire manual. As a result, they got the thumbs up from their customers.
Now, compare that to how British Airways handled a passenger’s recent tweet about his lost luggage and the airline’s poor customer service. As if to confirm their poor customer service, their response was not only slow in internet terms, it was pompous to boot. Before you know it, there were quite a few people who jumped in, broadcasting to the world their past bad experiences with them. What effect do you think that would have had?
Inform Your Customers as to Where / How to Lodge Complaints
Taking a leaf from each of these stories, it is important that your customers know where to go to make a complaint. Whether it is a toll-free number or an email address, they should have a way of making their voice heard. Keeping communications lines open shows them you are a transparent and approachable company.
Train Your Representatives to Handle Customer Complaints Professionally
In response, the staff that is charged with the job has to be well-trained in how to handle customer complaints. From the manner in which they go over the issue with the customer right down to the timbre in their voice (in a call-in complaint scenario), they have to know how to remain calm, “keep the peace”, and focus on resolving the problem.
Establish Clear Rules and Guidelines
Customer complaints come in numerous “shapes and forms”. So, it’s impossible to have a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Thus, you should have rules and guidelines drawn up. Processes such as investigation, resolution, compensation, and follow-up feedback requests should be as clear to your staff as they are for your customers. The last thing you want is to further ruffle the feathers of the unhappy customers by keeping them in the dark as to what is your business’ next course of action.
Any situation can be salvaged to your advantage IF you do it right and promptly. In the age of the digital megaphones like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc. your car wash business does not need any kind of bad publicity that has the potential of going viral.
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