When you run a business, there are a lot of things to remember, and despite your best efforts, sometimes things don’t go as smoothly as you would like them to. There is also the reality that behind every business, there are human beings and human beings sometimes make mistakes. For many, businesses are a bit harder to forgive than people, so as a business it will take extra effort to regain a customer’s trust after you have made a mistake.
Build Brand Loyalty
One of the crucial steps in gaining or even regaining customer trust is to build brand loyalty amongst your audience from the start. In order to create loyalty, your company needs to provide an exceptional experience. Studies have found that more often than not, customers switch brands due to service-related problems. While having a quality product is important, having a reliable and trustworthy service is one of the key differentiators for brands.
Keep in mind that experience comes down to the intangible details. From thank you notes to anticipated needs with product recommendations to incentives tailored specifically for their business, paying attention and being proactive can position your brand ahead of the pack. In addition, building brand loyalty can put customers at ease so that when a mistake does happen, they will trust that you will have a timely solution.
Nurture the Relationship
Consider implementing automated satisfaction surveys and customer service follow-ups to gain a better understanding of what your customers need from you, what’s working well and what may need some adjustments and further attention. Through these communications, you’re making sure that your customers feel heard and that your business is dedicated to always receiving feedback and is open to opportunities for growth.
Another great practice to implement is to have someone engage with online reviews of your business. Some customers may not be direct and prefer to submit a review online and it’s an excellent way to let you interact with the customer either provide a remedy or to simply thank them for their feedback and let them know you will adjust moving forward. Reiterating that your primary goal is to go above and beyond to meet customer satisfaction is another great way to reassure your customer that you have their best interest at heart.
Own Up to a Mistake
Whether your company or employee has wronged a single customer, or there is a larger breach in company etiquette that involves a larger segment of your customer base, the first order of business after a faux pas is to own up to your mistake. Arguing with an unhappy customer or trying to defend yourself when you are wrong is only going to increase animosity, and depending on the customer, bad things could snowball from there. They may tag you on social media or even alert the media of your mistake—leading others to think you can’t be trusted.
Sometimes there may be other factors involved in why a mistake was made. There may have been issues with the weather, something may have happened earlier in the supply chain that resulted in your product not being ready for the customer when they were ready. Keep track of what types of mistakes happen, and whether or not it is possible to predict. Work to fix these issues with business partners and suppliers, but don’t expect a customer to chase down your process.
Find Out What the Customer Needs
To best serve customers, businesses should be prepared to not only listen to customer feedback but to also come to the table with actionable solutions and a reassuring promise. Whether your customer needs a replacement product, additional or improved services or a discount on future purchases, it’s important to be cognizant of what that specific customer needs.
Meanwhile, audit your own process and training protocols to see if there are training issues that might be corrected going forward. At times there may be very little you are doing “wrong”, but you may find that customers simply need a little more care in their interactions. Ultimately, it’s important to be patient and understanding, as well as prepared to have a difficult conversation and utilize active listening.
Recommit to Quality
Whether you have made an actual mistake or have just missed an opportunity to understand your customers and do things a little better than your competition, it is always a good idea to look at your business from your customers’ point of view and consider what else you can offer and how you can better serve them. Communication is often the key in doing so. Holding raffles, offering surveys regarding customer satisfaction, and giving out coupons or temporary price breaks can show returning customers how much you have grown as a business and can start to rebuild customer trust.