You know what they say about good reputations: They take a lifetime to build, but only a second to destroy.
That’s true of individuals, but it’s also true of companies. A single mistake — when it’s made in public — can eradicate the goodwill people have toward your company, and make it difficult for customers to feel like they can trust you or believe in your products.
Sometimes, it’s not even your mistake. When a major player in your industry goes through a public scandal, there can be guilt by association. When one contractor fouls up, the general public can have a tarnished view of all contractors.
There are different ways to atone for your sins, and to show the general public that you’ve changed, that you can be trusted with their business. The most obvious is to offer discounts — peace offerings to entice your former customers back into the fold. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but it’s also not something that’s sustainable in the long run. You can’t afford to simply give discounts forever, after all.
Recovering from a Loss of Consumer Trust
The good news is that there are other strategies you might try.
- Always make sure you acknowledge the problem. Make it clear to your customers that you know you messed up and that you are working to fix it. This might mean contacting your customers directly, or it might mean sending out a more general email of apology, just depending on the kind of business you run and the relationship you have with your customers. Owning up to the problem is necessary for restoring consumer confidence.
- Get with your team members and make sure they have the tools they need to address problems that emerge; the last thing you want is for an employee to have an interaction with an angry customer, and have no idea how to handle it. Brief your team members on what they can and should do to handle unpleasant confrontations, requests for refunds, etc.
- Be intentional in soliciting customer feedback. Let your clientele know that, in the wake of a scandal or a screw-up, you are eager to make things better for them, and really want their honest feedback. Then be sure to listen to that feedback and be open to making the necessary changes.
- Develop a habit of asking for customer comments or reviews following every transaction, making sure that your people are getting what they really want, not just what you think they want.
In short, trust isn’t something you will be able to build back overnight, nor with something as flimsy as a coupon or a minor discount. To regain trust, you’ll need to get to the root of what caused the problem in the first place — affirming the seriousness of what happened, and making a real effort to ensure that it never happens again.
That’s not necessarily easy, but it can be effective—ultimately helping your customers to trust you once more.
About the author
Amanda Clark is president and editor-in-chief of Grammar Chic Inc., a full-service professional writing company. She is a published ghostwriter and editor, and currently under contract with literary agencies in Malibu, California, and Dublin, Ireland.
Since founding Grammar Chic in 2008, Clark, along with her team of skilled professional writers, has offered expertise to clients in the creative, business and academic fields. The company accepts a wide range of projects and often engages in content and social media marketing, drafts resumes, press releases, web content, marketing materials and ghostwritten creative pieces. Contact Clark at www.grammarchic.net.