Everyone knows that they should focus on delivering a good experience for their customers. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Whether it’s a rogue employee or a difficult customer, there’s a lot that can go wrong. Even if you’re trying your hardest to do the right thing. With Halloween right around the corner, we thought it would be fun to highlight some of these customer experience horror stories and offer some advice on how to respond if something similar ever happens to you.

When the friendly skies aren’t so friendly

Earlier this year United Airlines made headlines when it dragged a paying customer off of one of its flights when he refused to vacate his seat. While United may have been within its rights when it asked this individual to leave the plane, the way the situation was handled caused more harm than good – especially the company’s statement following the incident. The statement read, “This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers.”

This statement didn’t do a lot to assuage fears of potential passengers on future United flights that the same thing might happen to them. At Podium, we always stress that businesses be more forthright in their apologies and offer clear solutions to try and make things right. Your customers know that no business is perfect and are willing to give you the benefit of the doubt as long as you’re transparent when things don’t go as expected.

Where’s this chicken from anyway?

Recently, a California restaurant was caught trying to pass off Popeye’s chicken as its own. When one of its patrons found out, he left a one-star review on Yelp alerting customers of this practice. The restaurant’s owner responded to the review, admitting that they did, in fact, serve Popeye’s chicken tenders. Unfortunately, the response to the review had a condescending tone

One of the most important things to do when responding to a negative review is to stay calm. No one likes to get a negative review. In fact, when you do, it will probably ruin your day. But you don’t want to respond to a negative review when you’re upset. This could cause you to exacerbate the situation and make it worse, like the example described above. While you do want to make sure your response is timely, give yourself a little time to cool down before engaging with negative reviews.  

Why do you want to cancel?

Making the call to cancel a service is uncomfortable for everyone involved. For the consumer, they just want the call to be over as quickly as possible. They also want the process to be much easier. For the customer service representative, it’s not easy to try and convince someone to stay who has, in most cases, made up their mind to leave.

And sometimes these situations can get out of hand. That was definitely the case when Ryan Block tried to cancel his cable service only to run into a belligerent customer service representative, who kept him on the phone much longer than necessary trying to win back his business. Don’t believe us? You can listen to the call here.

One of the reasons that this individual wanted to cancel his service was because of how difficult it was to communicate with the cable company. While you can’t always control how your employees act in these situations, it’s very easy for you to improve communication with your customers.

The way that today’s consumer wants to engage with a business is changing. They no longer want to call you unless they absolutely have to. Research has found that nearly 90 percent of consumers would prefer to message a business. The problem is that only 48 percent of businesses are equipped to communicate with their customers that way.

Businesses that are making the effort to communicate with customers on their terms will see increased loyalty. While they won’t necessarily be able to keep every customer, they will be able to increase customer lifetime value.

Avoiding your own horror stories

While the stories shared in this post are extreme examples of what could go wrong with your customer service, it’s important to stay vigilant with customer service training and to constantly monitor your customer experience. At Podium, we’ve found the best way to keep a pulse on your day-to-day operations is constantly asking for feedback.

You can do this by using an online review management platform to streamline the process for collecting reviews on sites like Google, Facebook, and others. Using a platform helps you to aggregate your feedback into one place. This makes it much easier to obtain actionable insights about your business in real time.

Another thing you can do is simply ask for feedback via text message. This can be set up like a formal NPS survey, or it can be more informal where you ask questions like “How did we do” or “What could we do better?” Asking these questions in this manner will help you to increase your response rate. This is because it seems more genuine and personal than emailing a survey to your customers.

How can Podium help?

Find out how Podium’s Customer Interaction Platform can enable you to use convenient, familiar communication methods – like text messaging – to help improve your customer experience and drive loyalty. Request a demo today!