Dealing with customer complaints 6 August 2020
NOTHING IS MORE likely to sabotage a brand’s reputation than a customer complaint that goes viral. Social media often blow the problem out of proportion, leading television programmes and newspapers to pick up the story, which is invariably one that pits plucky members of the public against some heartless corporate Goliath. Consumer gripes—and stories about them—have multiplied during the pandemic as many services were cancelled because of lockdowns.
Rupert Younger of Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford says that views of companies are centred on the issues of capability and character. Firms’ capability is expressed in the quality of their products. The way that firms handle customer disputes, meanwhile, speaks to their character. If that quality is undermined, it can take time to rebuild public confidence. Research suggests that people and organisations alike tend to be judged by the worst thing they do.
One of the best-known pieces of brand damage occurred in 2008. Dave Carroll was travelling with United Airlines when he heard another passenger say that baggage handlers were carelessly tossing around guitars. When he arrived at his destination, Mr Carroll found his guitar had been damaged. After months of fruitless complaints, the musician made a video about his experience called “United Breaks Guitars”….