“It takes months to find a customer… seconds to lose one.” – Vince Lombardi
The saying above is the absolute truth. You can spend months cultivating and acquiring a customer, but in a second, every impression you've built with that customer can crumble.
In the world of business and product marketing, there are times when it feels like all the carefully laid-out dominoes are going down. Unexpected issues arise, business continuity plans do not fully mitigate the issue, and everything is upside down. These things do happen, but in all, the question remains: how do we handle the end users? What do we do to make sure they do not feel the brunt and that the effects are cushioned in such a way that they are not affected drastically?
As a reputable business, there are minor situations that can be handled with a quick fix and major issues that upend the business and cause ripples across all departments. One major issue can cause the downfall of a company, depending on how the matter is handled. I will speak about a situation that emerged at my job and how we handled it.
I was on the morning shift, and typically, we do not get calls on the shift as much as the evening shift. Color me surprised when the first call came in 5 minutes after clocking in. Then the barrage of calls started pouring in. The issue was that we had a bug that was debiting customers twice even when they initiated just one transaction, and it wouldn’t even send the funds; it would deposit them in their wallet. It was a lot of drama, dear Lord; we had curses, we had fire underneath our feet, we were talking non-stop, and we could not even take a break. At the back end, the engineers were working desperately to fix the issue, and we were directing misplaced anger at them because “why oh why couldn’t they be fast about it, snap their fingers and fix it, I mean Thanos did it, they should right?” But they couldn’t.
The engineers are not magicians, and deep down, we understood that. We had to relay to the customers that we understood what was happening; we had to assure them that they were safe; they were not hacked; their funds were safe; and we were working to fix the issue as quickly as possible. 4 hours later, after a lot of missed calls, high emotions, threats, and tears, normalcy was restored. The app was working fine again, and we were able to guide and advise customers on what to do and retain at least 96% of our customer base, if not all. I will share with you a few measures that helped alleviate the situation.
First things first: communication. Communication cannot be underrated. An official communication the moment an issue is noticed portrays to the customers that you know what is happening and are on top of the situation. It also lets the customers know you have their best interests at heart by calming their fears. We sent out an email to our customer base letting them know we are aware of the situation; there was also an in-app notification.
The next step was putting a hold on transactions. This helped because, just in case the notification was not received, being unable to make transactions would reduce the number of people affected by the bug, so the damage would not become overwhelming.
Thirdly, we ensured that our customer service representatives were ready. Calm voices, calm words, encouragement, and best practices—what we needed the customers to know and what was not deemed fit for public consumption
On the part of CSRs, we had to work hard to make sure that from the moment the calls came in until they ended, the customer who called in panicked left feeling reassured about the app. We even had a manager on standby so customers who requested it could speak to senior personnel and be briefed.
We also tried to work within a timeframe. After analyzing the issue, we made sure to work within the timeframe for a solution because one absolute rule of customer service is keeping promises made. Customers will hold you to your words; they might give you room to adjust, but it is best to stick within the time frame and not lose the customers trust.
Lastly, we reached out. Once the issue was resolved, we called back the customers who called in asking for updates, sent out communication, and made sure that for those who could not work out the resolution on their own, we guided them through it. We did not leave our customers in the dark. We made sure to include them in the process of crisis management from start to finish. After a few days, we made cold calls to reach out to customers who may have abandoned the app due to the situation.
The main takeaway from this write-up is that customers are the bedrock of any business. Without them, there is no market. Their needs are our focal points; putting them at the forefront and retaining them should be a company’s utmost priority. After all, “there’s a place in the world for any business that takes care of its customers after the sale.” – Harvey Mackay