There will always come a point for a business where you will be unable to actually answer a question or come up with a solution to a problem that has been posed by a client or customer, but how you handled this situation is extremely important. Basically, if this is dealt with correctly by a representative from your company, and they ask for forgiveness, then it can actually help your brand rather than hinder it.
The reason why this is important is because word of mouth marketing still plays a key role in the potential success of a business and people do like to know that a business is honest enough to admit to a mistake or admit to not knowing the answer to everything. This honesty is even more important in the world of social media where customers will often use it as a means to communicate to the world about some issue they have with your business, and ignoring these issues will only reflect badly on you.
It only takes one
It is important to remember that it can take years to build a brand and its reputation; however, it only takes one disgruntled customer who does not get the answer they seek to undo so much of that work in a matter of minutes. In order to give some kind of help, what follows are a number of tips on how to deal with these types of situations whether you are the actual business owner or merely an employee who is the voice of the company.
How to act professionally and kindly
The first tip is to make sure you use the correct phrases in your reply and always ensure you word everything perfectly especially when it is being seen by people on places such as Facebook or Twitter. You need to do more than just tell them you are sorry, but at the same time, don’t come up with something long-winded that cries out as an excuse. Do also consider using warmer terms such as “forgive me” rather than the more robotic “I apologize” as people tend to throw that out automatically.
The second tip is to react quickly as speed of reply can really boost how your brand is viewed by others and will even impress the person posting the problem or asking the question. By being quick to acknowledge a mistake or a genuine inability to solve a problem, you are showing that you treat every customer or potential client with the utmost respect and there is no doubt that other people will then have more respect towards the brand or business in return.
When you really don’t know
At times, you may wish to buy yourself some time in order to actually get an answer or solution, but only do this if you are sure that you will be able to do so without it dragging on for a number of days. If this is indeed the case, then inform the person that you will look into it and get in touch. When you get that solution, ask for their forgiveness for not knowing the answer immediately. By being humble, your business and brand will then be seen as more welcoming to customers. If you show a willingness to learn, you will tend to find that through word of mouth marketing, more people will appreciate you instead of the opposite when you come across as being cold and uncaring.
One thing that is extremely important is to never rise to any attacks on the brand in an aggressive way as this will cause so much damage that will then be irreparable. It is essential that the person who is going to be representing your brand is someone who is calm and does not lose his or her temper easily as it does require a level head to make the most out of what appears to be a potentially bad situation.
So asking for forgiveness can indeed help your brand as it lets other potential customers actually see that you care and listen to what people are saying. By being brave enough to say to them “forgive me” and admitting your mistake or lack of knowledge in a particular area, you do not come across as being weak. But by ignoring comments left online that are being viewed by large numbers of people, you are certainly managing to weaken your business by letting people think that you don’t care.
Maria Elena Duron, CEO (chief engagement officer), buzz2bucks | a word of mouth marketing firm, is skilled at making networks “work” and harnessing powerful online and offline buzz, she facilitates online visibility services and word of mouth coaching and workshops – taking companies and professionals from buzz-worthy to bucks-worthy.