April 16, 2013 - by |

5 Steps to Follow Up After a Negative Customer Interaction

Megan Webb-Morgan is a business blogger for Resource Nation. She writes about customer experience for a variety of blogs worldwide. Please follow them on Twitter and Facebook

When a customer has a bad experience with their company, you’re very lucky if you find out about it at all – but you’ll be in the minority. Customers on average tell 24 other people about a bad experience they have with a company.In order to turn a negative customer interaction into a positive one, you need to follow up appropriately.

Whether you are handling the experience from a call center or talking with someone online, consider these 5 tips for handling it successfully.

1. React Quickly

The longer a customer is left to stew over a negative interaction with your company, the more unhappy they will be – and the more time they’ll have to tell others about it. Responding quickly shows the customer that you care that there’s a problem and that it’s important to you that you fix it right away. Customers who request customer service over Twitter expect a response within 2 hours – but only 42% of customers will ever receive a response.2

2. Let the Customer Talk

Fixing the problem is only half the solution. After a negative interaction, your customer is likely upset, frustrated, or angry. Give them the opportunity to vent those feelings by letting them talk. Don’t interrupt, don’t cut them off, and don’t offer a solution until the customer is in the right frame of mind – when they’re done letting out their emotions.

Don’t take offense to what the customer says. Although someone else may have caused the problem (and you’re there to solve it), you represent the company as a whole.

3. Understand & Empathize

After a bad experience, your customer needs to vent their feelings of frustration or annoyance. Besides letting them vent, you also need to acknowledge their feelings as legitimate. Use phrasing that shows them that you understand why they feel the way they feel.  For example:

  • “You’re right, that’s really frustrating.”
  • “I can see why you’re upset; I would be, too.”
  • And the most important: “I’m sorry that happened, and I’d really like to fix it for you.”

4. Work Together for a Solution

Ask the customer to be involved in finding a solution. They may have a specific need that you are unable to anticipate. Asking them to be involved will make them feel like they’re getting a solution that’s customized for their specific situation. Once they have described what they need, give them an outline of your proposed plan and a timeline for getting it done.

For example, if the solution is to process a refund for their purchase, be sure to tell the customer that the refund will process in 5-7 days. Let them know that they will receive an email when the funds have been returned to their bank account.

5. Check Back in Later

After you have identified a negative customer interaction, given the customer an opportunity to vent, and implemented a solution to the problem, you should check in with the customer. Use this check-in as an opportunity to determine if the solution was the one they were looking for, if they are happy with the solution, and if they need any additional assistance. This shows that you care that the customer was satisfied after having a bad experience and are willing to continue providing service until they are happy.

Sometimes, customers have a bad experience with your company. This can be due to any number of factors: a salesperson making a mistake, a call agent mis-routing a call, a damaged or defective product, or even customer error. The key to turning a negative experience into a positive one is appropriate follow-up.


Sources: 1. American Express 2. Bluewolf


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