Although no company likes to deal with customer complaints to the media, most realize that doing so is vital. And the consequences of not taking action can go far beyond just losing a customer, it can seriously damage your ability to maintain positive sentiment toward your brand.
With social media platforms like Yelp and Twitter, or even local TV consumer investigation news segments, unsatisfied customers are aware of the power in globally voicing their complaints. Consumers may feel they can generate a response and resolution from your company much faster. But even just one poorly handled response can greatly hurt a brand, so making some ground rules for handling customer complaints can help prevent negative news stories.
3 ways to prevent customer complaints to the media:
1. Provide exceptional customer service
Have you ever listened to a friend talk about their customer experience with a brand? If it was worth remembering, their story probably changed your perception of that brand. The best way to prevent negative word of mouth, and media stories, is to invest in a knowledgeable and trained customer support team.
Create a clear plan that outlines the protocols for a quick resolution. In addition to frontline reps, consider a means for complaints to be escalated and resolved. Some companies empower an “Executive Office” or “Office of the CEO” to tackle some of the more complex consumer complaints.
More than ever, having a robust customer service function is important to your PR efforts. With a proliferation of consumer advocacy stories in the media, it prevents consumers from feeling like they have to share their complaints with a local TV station in order to be heard. Resolving customer complaints fast and efficiently will also boost the chances of customers staying loyal to your brand, and perhaps, you’ll even receive positive media coverage from smoothly resolving an issue.
2. Be the customer’s advocate
First impressions are everything, especially for a consumer. So it’s critical for customer service representatives to listen deeply to each customer’s needs, acknowledge their concerns, and let the consumer know they are being heard. Sometimes a sincere apology is all it takes to put an angry customer more at ease.
3. Verify the resolution so the issue doesn’t resurface
Resurfacing complaints can happen quite often due to a lack of internal communication or follow up. For example, a customer may have been promised that a fee would be waived. Did someone at your company check to see if the credit was actually reflected on the account? Did they provide a direct telephone number to call if the credit did no appear? These simple steps can help to ensure that the resolution is complete.
As a leading PR agency in the Silicon Valley and across Northern California, we are in a region with a large volume of customer complaints that are aired on broadcast TV news stations. Reviewing, identifying, escalating, and following up to make sure that a customer has received a final resolution is a key part of our media relations role.
Resolving every customer complaint by keeping promises is the key to preventing customer complaints to the media. And while high-rated customer service takes time and effort, making the investment to prevent negative brand awareness will be the key your continued success.