Building a brand is difficult, but fixing a brand after a PR disaster can be even harder. If your brand is thought of as being cheap, poor quality, or irresponsible, persuading people to give you a second chance can take a lot of work. This is especially true now that social media makes it easy for one customer’s grievance (legitimate or not) to spread to hundreds, or thousands, of their online friends within minutes.
Fix the Problem First
When a customer complains, the first thing many customers think of doing is refunding the customer or replacing the product, and giving the customer some promotional gifts or vouchers as compensation for their trouble. While this fixes the immediate issue, in that the complaining customer walks away happy, it doesn’t solve the real problem.
The above course of action is good customer service, of course. However, if the unhappy customer buys from you again at a later date and has a similar problem, they’re likely to notice a pattern. Do you want your brand to be associated with unreliable products? A time-strapped customer may decide to choose another brand because they don’t want to take the risk of having to deal with your customer service department, no matter how helpful it is. Most people just want a product that works first time, every time.
If you notice that you are getting lots of complaints about slow delivery, poor packaging or failing products, take those issues seriously. Preventing future complaints is just as important as reacting to the complaints you’re getting now.
Listen to Your Customers
Your brand is not necessarily what you want it to be. Sometimes, a company’s vision lines up with how the customers see the brand, but that’s not always the case. Pay attention to the people that are engaging with your brand. You may be surprised at the people that you attract. For example, a budget hardware manufacturer may find that their products are popular with computer enthusiasts that like to overclock their machines to squeeze every last bit of performance out of them. If the manufacturer took measures to prevent overclocking, thinking that only price-conscious buyers were interested in their products, they would get a nasty surprise from the backlash they received.
Join the Conversation
If things start to go wrong, the first thing you should do is open as many lines of communication as possible. Send out email messages apologizing for the issue, get someone to answer tweets and Facebook posts, and get extra people working on your customer service lines. Make sure that your existing customers know that their concerns are being taken seriously. Send affected customers a refund, promotional gifts, or some other gesture (appropriate for the scale of the problem) by way of apology.
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Once the immediate crisis is over, take some time to learn from your mistakes. If the problem was a bad product, send it back to R&D. If your couriers were unreliable, find new ones. If it was a case of marketing sending out the wrong messages about the product, talk to the marketing team and make sure it never happens again. When you are sure that you’ve fixed the issue, you can get back to marketing your brand again. Be consistent with your marketing, and run frequent, regular campaigns. It may take a few months to see the impact of your campaign, but if you are consistent in your efforts they will pay off.
How important is fixing your brand after a PR disaster?
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