A peek behind the curtain – how I respond to bad experiences as a customer

Being a PR practitioner sometimes ruins things for you. In our role, you often get to peek behind the curtain, seeing the inner workings that the average consumer doesn’t see.

I’ll give you an example. Nathan and I just bought a home, and as a part of our move, we became YouTube TV subscribers. Because of my role at Obsidian, I know that YouTube TV users can be demographically and behaviorally targeted for advertisements in a way that traditional cable television users cannot. During our favorite show, we were served three Geico ads specifically for new homeowners. After the third, Nathan said, “It’s like they know we just bought a house.” I had to tell him that they DO know. I knew that because I do this exact targeting at work.

As someone who reads and reacts to bad reviews for clients in my daily job, I know the frustration and heartache that comes with fielding a bad review. If you read our latest email newsletter (shameless plug, sign up here), you’d know that it takes 40 positive customer reviews to outweigh one negative review. So, it’s apparent that getting behind a keyboard and penning a negative review has serious weight.

While I’m a PR practitioner, I’m also a consumer. And as a consumer, I have drinks spilled in my lap, sit on hold for hours on end and get attitude from a front desk clerk when my reservation isn’t coming up in the system. And as frustrated as I get, I’ve never left an online review. I just can’t bring myself to write one – probably because I’ve peeked behind the curtain and see how they can impact businesses. Instead of taking to Twitter or Yelp!, I find myself thinking, “If this business was my client, how would I want the person in my situation to respond?”

So, I’m going to share with you how I respond to bad experiences, knowing how I’d like for customers of my clients to respond to their bad experiences:

Assess the gravity of the situation.

If you’ve been physically harmed, assaulted or egregiously wronged, go ahead and click out of this article and contact the proper authorities. But if you’re minorly inconvenienced, frustrated or given generally bad service, try to put it into context. Is this something that could stem from someone just having a bad day? Could there be an outside stressor that made the situation especially tense? Was it genuinely an accident? Try to think of the context and severity of your situation.

Make a personal connection.

I know the “can I speak to a manager” meme is real. And I avoid conflict and tattling at all costs. But sometimes, you just need to speak to a manager! Try to get in touch with a customer service rep who can rectify the situation. I’d recommend a personal email or phone call if possible. Depending upon the business, you might be able to connect with someone through social media messaging. Once you connect, clearly and articulately explain what happened and request necessary rectification. Oftentimes, a manager will be eager to make the situation right.

Offer a change or solution.

While talking with a manager, consider offering an alternative action that could have changed the outcome of your experience. Maybe they shouldn’t have kept you on hold but rather called you back when the lines cleared. Or, maybe the house should have covered the cost of your entree after it was served cold rather than giving you a free dessert. Offering recommendations in a kind, even manner can be helpful for managers to understand the desires of their customers so they can prevent this situation in the future.

Consider a second chance.

I understand that your money as a consumer is valuable. There are a million places where you can happily choose to spend your money. I also know that we live in a world where second chances are hard to come by. But sometimes you genuinely catch someone on a bad day, and you may be blacklisting a business that could genuinely meet your needs in the future! If you can find it in your heart, try to give the business a second chance to see if they’ve pulled their act together.

Obviously, these steps outline the best-case scenario. I know that customer service isn’t all sunshine and roses, and more often than not, businesses fall short in the customer service department. But, if you try and remember that each business represents the livelihoods of numerous people, you may be able to find a little grace and gentleness in your heart!

If your business is struggling in the reviews and customer service department, we can help! Send us an email at insight@obsidianpr.com.