When the customer experience goes wrong...

by Gemma Maidment on 17 May 2012
It happens to everyone, every now and then something goes wrong. Since working at Webcredible this has happened to me twice, and both times with our newsletter. So what can you do if something goes wrong? Here are a few observations and ideas of how to manage an accidental bad customer experience with your digital communications:

Correct the mistake and send again

Specifically in terms of emails / e-newsletters if there is a mistake I think the standard response that I often see is companies sending out the email again with the mistake eradicated. I've noticed some brands do it quite subtly, mentioning in the content that it's an update to the previous version, others alter the email subject to mention the mistake and this is the actual version with an oops sorry! There are some pitfalls with this as many people may not see the second version - we always communicate these things over our social streams too just to try and catch as many people as possible to make sure they know what's going on. Transparency and trust is a very important part of creating an engaging and long term brand-customer relationship.

Be very personable

Another great thing I've observed is to be as personable as possible, making sure your customers know that you care about their feedback and worries on a individual level. Very recently (so sorry if it happened to you!) our newsletter was sent with the link colour rendering wrong on some email clients. As a user experience company this was a real disaster as it meant legibility was really poor for many people. We communicated via our social streams that there had been a mistake and it would be fixed for next month (unfortunately it wasn't an easy fix to sort out straight away). To ensure people that had taken the time to email us knew we cared, we personally emailed every single one of them as quickly as possible to apologise, explain and to get them to send us information and screen shots so we could make sure we got it right for them. Bingo, the replies were lovely, encouraging and full of praise for our content and website redesign...

Engage with your customers

We know that bad customer experiences negatively effect your sales and brand loyalty, but marketers are human and customers will be understanding if you deal with the situation properly - and the best ways i've observed is through more in-depth engagement. This way, you can get them on board, get them involved, move the focus, and in many cases this will probably increase your brand loyalty rather than just try and save it. Last year, our newsletter accidentally sent between 2 and 10 times to our entire mailing list of over 25,000 people. Oops indeed - massive technical error. However, to increase goodwill we communicated through email and our social streams that we had indeed made a mistake, we are sorry and it won't happen again, and very excitingly we are running a twitter competition - tweet us how many times in total you think the newsletter sent and the closest guess will win a bottle of champagne by the end of the day! Our clients loved it and sent us emails saying they thought it was very clever, "well done, we're impressed", and our twitter activity and followers increased dramatically. The unsubscribe from the newsletter was non-existent. So, I don't know the best answer, but if you make a mistake every now and then and deliver a substandard customer experience you can turn it around, and the more engaging and creative or personal you are, the better the results will be for your brand. What do you do when the customer experience goes wrong? What do you think is best practice? Have you experienced a mistake and seen a brand really come into their own to put it right? We'd love to know!

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