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4 Steps for Handling a Customer Service Crisis

4 Steps for Handling a Customer Service Crisis
The way you handle a customer service crisis can make or break your company's reputation. / Credit: SOS image via Shutterstock

Where there are customers, there are complaints. As much as you'd like to hope that no one will ever be unhappy with your product or service, you're almost guaranteed to encounter at least a few customers who are less than fully satisfied.

As consumers increasingly air their grievances about brands on social media, the focus has turned to the way those brands respond to customer complaints, especially in a public forum. Knowing what to do in this situation makes all the difference when it comes to re-earning a customer's business — and what he or she tells others about your company.

"Great service is about getting your customers to trust you and count on a consistent experience, but that doesn't mean you're always going to be perfect," said Eric Schiffer, CEO of DigitalMarketing.com. "In a crisis, you can elevate your stature [with] how well you handle the situation. A negative experience can be the best time to show your value." [6 Social Media Customer Service Mistakes to Avoid]

If you're faced with a negative customer experience, Schiffer advised following these four steps to resolve the issue and regain the customer's trust.

  1. Acknowledge the problem. The classic customer service cliché says that the customer is always right. While it may, in fact, turn out to be a misunderstanding, the worst thing you can do is dismiss a customer who tells you he or she had a problem with your business.
  2. Apologize for it. Once you've acknowledged the customer's issue, apologize for it and ask what you can do to help. Gather the facts about the situation, and determine a course of action from there.
  3. Take action. Saying you're going to fix a problem is one thing; actually doing it is another. Make sure you honor your commitment to take care of the customer's complaint. If you can't correct the problem, offer a coupon or voucher as a way to ask the customer for another chance.
  4. Follow up. When you've done what you promised to do, follow up with the customer to make sure that your solution was satisfactory.

No matter which person on your team is responsible for handling customer relations, it's imperative that you embody excellent service as the head of the company as well.

"Great service has to come from the top," Schiffer told Business News Daily. "Lower level employees aren't going to be inspired and motivated unless they see their leader providing exceptional service."    

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Nicole Fallon

Nicole received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. Nicole served as the site's managing editor until January 2018, and briefly ran Business.com's copy and production team. Follow her on Twitter.