You can have all the loyalty programs in the world, but none of it means anything if the experience you’ve provided is inconsistent.

But you can treat negative feedback as an opportunity to demonstrate you really care about your customers.

“If you don’t have a Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or other social media account because you’re scared of someone commenting, it’s better for you to be there and deal with that comment, than not be there at all,” says Facebook client solutions lead Gemma Faye Hernandez, speaking at a recent StarTrack Business Advantage Breakfast Seminar held in Melbourne.

Your online responses can be seen by anyone

“It’s great to answer customer comments on your social media and website, but it’s also recommended to manage those negative comments,” says Hernandez.

“People know when customers are having a bad experience versus when someone is posting something irrational or overly negative,” she says. Some people are going to be nasty no matter what, but customers are savvy.

How you handle that negative comment is just as important for the other online users as it is for the customer leaving the online complaint, she says.

Keep in mind your response will be viewed by anyone perusing your pages so ensure your tone is genuine and authentic, she says.

Fix mistakes and live up to your promises

“The principle we have in our business is to live up to our promises. Even if someone is being extremely horrible, ask yourself whether you delivered on your promise to the customer regardless,” says AdoreBeauty founder and chief executive Kate Morris.

“If we didn’t fulfil a task we need to make that right. If a customer has ordered express post and we didn’t ship it for three days, we failed on that promise, and we would apologise and make it up to them.”

Deescalate the situation as quickly as possible

“If you’ve got someone who beyond all reason is acting up, respond to them in a very rational and logical way,” says Morris.

“Inform them that you want to sort this out, that they can call you any time and speak to a supervisor. Pass on all your contact details and calm down the situation.”

Focus on building loyalty to your brand

“There are only so many times your business can’t deliver or your website can fail before customers lose interest,” says Morris.

You can have all the loyalty programs in the world, but none of it means anything if the experience you’ve provided is inconsistent.

“When you think about brands that have true loyalty, such as Apple, it’s not about points. Brands that people are really passionate about are a result of them loving the product,” she says.

You’ve got to do what you say you’re going to do – it’s the only way to secure strong customer loyalty to your brand. The part that people don’t see is just as vital – implementing software, upgrading your warehouse – this needs to be done so that you are able to keep up with demand, she says.

“It’s about having what you need in place to make sure you can deliver. This means having current stock availability at hand so you communicate to customers when you think something will be restocked and on what date.

“If it hasn’t been dispatched on time, communicate and let them know.”

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