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Beating Bad Buzz…..
by Rod Johnson

It happens. people complain, customers complain. Expectations aren’t met, promises are not kept, mistakes are made and products and processes fail. Customers often feel it is their duty to make sure you are informed when they aren’t happy--- and we need to be thankful they are talking to us! That is the first step in beating bad buzz.

Word of Mouth is very powerful and has a very strong ripple effect. As much as we need our customers to share their positive experiences, we know they will not hesitate to start talking about their negative experiences. It is a well known statistic that on average customers who have a complaint will tell 9 – 10 other people (prospects and customers) about it. Are they telling you? If they are, great! Being approachable is the first key step to overcoming negative Word of Mouth from impacting your customer base and your bottom line.

Complaints should be a welcome sign of a solid customer relationship. Ninety-five percent of customers will do business with you and your company again if their complaint is handled quickly.

When dealing with any complaint response time is critical to the overall customer experience. The longer it takes you to respond to a customer who has a complaint the more you negatively impact the situation and decrease your opportunity to turn this complaint into a sale or relationship builder. More importantly, you are giving this customer more fuel to fire the bad buzz or negative Word of Mouth in your market place. Remember, you have less than

48 hours to create a “Wow” experience for your customer, and that’s what you want them talking about with their peers.

Once we have responded quickly, there are two key factors in every complaint: Emotion and a Problem to Be Solved. Those who learn how to deal with the emotion first, can often turn a complaint into a sale or at the very least a relationship builder.

The primary key to dealing with the emotion is to utilize your listening skills and take notes, showing your customer you do care about their problem. The following sensory phrases can help you get more details and information about the problem while helping decrease the emotion of the situation:

“I can see you are frustrated…”
“I hear you have a problem, please tell me more about…”
“I feel I can help you, let me understand more about…”

To further decrease the emotions empathize with your customer. Let your customer know you understand the impact of the problem on their business or situation.

“I am sorry you’ve had this experience, from what I understand this is impacting your ability to…”

Next, you need to make sure you understand you heard the problem correctly. Clarify what you have heard to confirm you have an accurate understanding of the REAL problem. Once you clarify, be sure to pause and listen.

“To make sure I understand your situation, I’ve heard you say…..”

Finally, work with your customer to make a plan and take action. Be very clear with your customer the steps you intend to take to solve the problem and what he can expect from you and when.

“Here is what I plan to do in the next 24 hours….”

Following through after you have taken the action will help you to solidifying a customer relationship. More importantly they will tell their peers (your prospects and customers) how well you handled their situation and turn bad buzz backwards into a positive Word of Mouth in your market place.
Stephanie Liska is the President of Beck Ag, Inc. the industry’s leader in the development and implementation of Word of Mouth Marketing Strategies. Stephanie has more than 20 years of industry sales and marketing experience. Prior to leading Beck Ag’s team, Stephanie worked for AgriBusiness Group consulting with various organizations improving their organizational learning strategies. A graduate of Iowa State University, her personal mission is to develop people towards exceptional performance. Stephanie can be reached at 866-375-4390 or by e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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