We all have them. None of us wants them. But, if we manage them effectively, they can turn into our strongest brand advocates. Who are they? Disgruntled customers.
Disgruntled customers are inevitable. As the saying goes: “you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Because disgruntled customers are inevitable, it’s important for business owners and managers of all kinds to have plans and processes in place to act quickly and appropriately when a service problem or communication breakdown occurs.
Addressing problematic customer issues generally involve some type of appeasement—a forward, good faith gesture designed to express apologies for the breakdown in some way that is meaningful and valuable to the customer. And in the end, results in their satisfaction with your product or services.
Making Amends Can Strengthen a Threatened Relationship
When your customer service or customer-facing staff members—whether in-person, in a call center or online—are faced with a disgruntled or dissatisfied customer, their ability to mollify or appease them can make a world of difference between a lost customer (and related negative word-of-mouth) and a fierce advocate for your business.
That doesn’t happen automatically, of course. Your staff need to know what remedies are available to them, what policies and processes they need to follow to use these remedies, and to what extent they’re empowered to act immediately to rectify a negative situation.
To appease the unhappy customer in the moment, it’s important that the service rep be empowered to choose among several options that will get the job done seamlessly and that will have a high probability of satisfying the customer without delay.
You also need to the ability to track and manage these customer-relationship containment efforts to control costs and identify areas where problems or breakdowns may be more frequent.
Single-use digital coupons (or gift cards) can be a great go-to solution. But not all digital coupons are created equally and some pose serious liability and risks that are helpful to be aware of. Here are some things to look for when seeking a digital coupon solution for your customer appeasement efforts.
Digital Coupon Do’s and Don’ts
There are some important best practices to follow when using digital coupons. Most importantly, the coupon should be a single-use coupon, meaning it can be used only once and not proceed to go wildly viral. Single-use coupon models ensure that:
- Your customer will only receive one barcode or online promo code—and the same barcode/promocode—no matter how many times they may request it.
- Once used, the coupon automatically expires—whether used in-store or online.
- Customers cannot procure a second digital coupon without express permission from the company issuing the coupon.
With those safeguards in place, single-use digital coupons can be your best defense against lost customers, irate complaints and negative word-of-mouth. That’s not hard to understand. With so many consumers tethered to their mobile phones and other electronic devices, digital coupons can be issued and redeemed immediately; they can also be tracked, providing your business with important back-end information on redemption rates.
Another consideration is the particular communication channel the service rep is using while in conference with the customer – whether that’s by email, phone, text or social media -- the appeasement should ideally be delivered via the same channel.
It’s important, though, to ensure that your service reps understand when coupons should be appropriately used for appeasement, what their level of empowerment is in terms of the value provisioned for these coupons or gift cards, and how to track and report on their use.
Appeasement Done Right
Appeasement really is the name of the game when it comes to turning disgruntled customers into fierce allies, but appeasement needs to be done right. That means using a solution that allows your staff to issue coupons immediately at the point of contact, while allowing you the peace of mind to know that these coupons can only be used once and only by the customer they were intended for.
Single-use digital coupons can provide not just peace of mind but a convenient strategy for dealing with unhappy customers and a valued acknowledgement that they, and their continued business, matter to you.
About the Author
Dan Slavin is CEO and co-founder of CodeBroker, a provider of mobile marketing solutions. He was CEO of Framework Technologies, VP of Open Market, and CEO of International Testing Services. He earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Yale and an MBA from Harvard.