The annual cost to businesses of unhappy customers is $537 billion, as they see their reputation damaged by online reviews, word of mouth and even have a higher staff turnover and fewer people willing to work for them in the long-term. Ensuring customer and employee happiness and satisfaction is essential for success, but what if the damage has already been done? In some instances, a bad reputation can happen overnight, while other times it builds up over months. Recovering from this is possible, but it does take a lot of work and commitment to get there. Always put your customers first, and respond effectively to reviews and complaints to build your business back up, but ultimately, you may need to rebrand to come back from the damage.
The importance of repairing the damage
A bad business reputation has the potential to completely ruin a business, which is why it’s so important to repair it. One study found that 80% of people won’t buy from a company with bad reviews online, and it takes 10-12 good reviews to make up for a single bad one, illustrating the severity of the problem. However, this does show that it’s possible to repair the damage. Focus on delivering a good service, and ask customers to leave a good review for you. If your business has a physical space that customers visit, you could have a tablet set up ready for them to leave reviews on their way out to make it easy for them to do so.
It’s all about image
There are several important factors that are key to making a business a success, particularly after reputation damage, and if even one of these things is missing or goes wrong, it could seriously affect your business. A lot of this comes down to how your potential customers view your brand. Looking after your staff will mean that they look after your customers. If you neglect staff or treat them badly, they are likely to submit their opinions to respected review companies like Complaints Base Business Reviews. Similarly, customers can also spread the word that they don’t think highly of your business, causing damage. Ultimately, you need to look after your staff and your customers. People will be quick to say bad things about you if you already have a bad reputation, so you need to work on this as a priority when trying to recover from it.
Responding appropriately in person
A customer comes into your place of work and makes a verbal complaint, or perhaps they phone up to complain. What you do next makes the world of difference to that customer, and therefore to your business. The majority of the time, customers will come to you and complain because they want you to do something about it to fix the problem. Dealing with their problem will usually result in the complaint going away. Always speak to customers politely, calmly and listen to what they’re saying so that you can respond appropriately. Ideally, have a manager talk to them to show that you’re taking them seriously. If they decide to go online or speak to family and friends about your business, they’ll have a lot better things to say if they leave as a happy customer.
Know how to deal with online complaints
Getting complaints online can be extremely damaging to your business, especially if you’re already trying to recover from reputational damage. Importantly, you should respond to online complaints, and quickly, but the way you respond matters. If you don’t respond, you may find that the disgruntled customer will leave comments and reviews on more than one platform, pointing out that you’ve not only given a bad service but you’re also not dealing with their complaint. This increases the amount of people who see it and makes it seem that you don’t care. Work on the basis that the customer is always right, and apologize to them, offer to fix the problem or give them vouchers to use your services again, promising to get it right next time.
How one bad review cost a company $180 million
If you respond badly to a customer complaint, you could be doing the damage to yourself. If a potential customer sees you responding rudely to a customer, they won’t want to risk being in the same position, and will very likely walk away. You’re also fueling an already unhappy customer. Musician Dave Carroll was traveling with United Airlines when he saw an employee throw his guitar on the tarmac when they were unloading the plane. His guitar, worth $3500, broke at the neck. Carroll gave them the chance to resolve the problem and asked the airline to pay for repairs, but they refused. After nine months of trying to resolve the problem, this reasonable customer had had enough and wrote a song titled, ‘United Breaks Guitars’, which currently has almost 19 million views on YouTube. Within 4 weeks of its release, United Airlines stock price fell by 10%, which was the equivalent of $180 million. This doesn’t include business lost from other customers either. Dealing with the initial complaint appropriately would’ve cost them an awful lot less in both money and reputation.
Is it time to rebrand?
Depending on the damage your business is dealing with, it might be worth rebranding. Many customers will be aware that you’ve rebranded, so it’s not a guaranteed way to save your reputation, and you’ll still need to put the work in, but it can help. You don’t even need to change your company’s name, products or services, and can instead give a complete overhaul to your general appearances, such as logos, packaging and your website. More importantly, you need to focus on keeping customers and employees happy or you’ll end up in the same position again. It can be worth investing in a team who solely manage your online presence for you and deal with customer complaints. Give them a monthly budget that can be used to retain customers and improve their opinion of your business by getting them to return and delivering a quality service.
Sometimes reputational damage happens to a good business, with one upset customer being all it takes to bring you down. Coming back from this, always put your customers first and ensure their happiness: it’s worth it in the long run. This is how some of the most successful businesses out there operate. It’s always about looking after employees and customers, regardless of what industry you’re in or what services you offer, and the rest will fall into place.