Keeping customers happy is one of the long-term keys to success. In today’s world where customers have more and more options, the only way to stay afloat is by having a loyal client base that will stick with you because they trust the quality of your products or services.
However, clients have become more interested than ever how their products are produced, how the employees of the companies they do business with are treated, and what kind of statements the CEO of the company does on social media. These make the chance of a faux pas almost unavoidable, and you need to know how to act once that happens.
Issue an Apology
The first thing you need to do is to issue an apology immediately. The apology must be direct, admit the wrongs that your company has done, and take full responsibility for your actions.
- Don’t try to blame other companies/people for the mistake: even if there’s some truth to it, people hate it when you pass the blame. You shouldn’t blame others for the mistakes. Keep to the things you did wrong and admit responsibility for them.
- Express remorse: you, personally or as a company, need to express remorse. You need to recognize how your actions or products have caused harm and express how you feel bad about them.
- Promise it won’t happen again: it is important to make sure you signal that it won’t happen again. Your consumers won’t forgive you if it seems you’ll continue on the same path. That’s why you need to clearly state in your apology statement that you’ll not let it happen again.
Apologizing this way will make people sympathetic and cause a lot of people to forgive you.
There’s one instance, however, where you must think twice before issuing an apology. When it comes to politically charged topics that your consumers are divided on, the apology might cause more outrage than make amends. You need to carefully weigh the pros and cons in this case.
Make Real Changes
Words alone won’t make the cut. Nowadays, your customers have enough time to keep themselves updated on your actions. If you think the backlash to your actions were bad, you don’t want to experience the backlash you’ll face if you don’t implement the changes if you’ve promised (or at least appear to do so)
- Make sure you let your customers know you’ve implemented the changes: half of the people who got angry at your actions probably won’t care enough to check back with your company. That’s why it is important to announce the fact you’ve implemented the changes and you listen to your customers.
- If it isn’t financially viable, you need to at least make the appearance of doing some change. Most often, people will get angry about the financial decision your company has made, and it wouldn’t make any financial sense for you to change your practices. In these cases, you need to have the appearance of change at least. Try to obfuscate the way you do things, find a loophole, etc. Most companies do this when faced with a backlash. You just need to make sure your clients don’t catch up.
Appease Those Directly Affected
If anyone was hurt, financially or otherwise, by your actions, you need to try to appease them. This part is quite tricky, you want to look genuinely remorseful and want to make up for your mistakes, and you don’t want to look like you’re buying back these people:
- Offer something personally: offering something personally rather than through the company is generally taken as more personal. This is just part of human nature, and you can observe it everywhere. For example, people are more likely to buy e-commerce merch when an influencer personally thanks them through the fourthwall.com platform. This is a strong human psychological effect you want to exploit to appear more genuine.
- Make sure you let them know your gift doesn’t make up for their bad experience. If they feel you think your gift will completely make up for the damages, they’ll feel insulted. You have to let them know that these gifts and discounts are completely separate from their rightful indignation.