Master the Art of Recovery

As online participation provides increased levels of consumer feedback, angry consumers are participating in your story as well. That’s why we are entering a new era of corporate listening. We have all purchased our license to social listening tools such as Sprout or BuzzSumo, but what do we do with all that power?

Don’t be like some of those who have purchased subscriptions without integrating it into your systems and operational structure. Otherwise, these tools can become just an expensive Excel spreadsheet. They can be incredibly important, but they only perform well if you have properly outlined the goals and principles of use. Ultimately, it’s about what real humans do with the data that these tools provide. One of the most important functions of these tools is building customer satisfaction.

According to a study by American Express, fewer and fewer people talk about their good customer experiences. Nearly half of your consumers admit that they tell negative stories about brands in social media. Don’t miss the opportunity to turn these negative comments into a positive story. Up to 63% of your consumers are willing to give your brand two or more chances to recover. A simple online response to a negative tweet, or a recovery effort to refund the customer, can gain a customer’s loyalty for life

When a brand masters the art of recovery, consumers actually lend a higher level of loyalty than they had given your brand before the mistake had occurred.


It turns out my mother was right: Manners matter. Consumers are always happy to receive a credit or refund, but surprisingly, customer satisfaction is not finally earned without an apology. Monetary value alone won’t cut it. Studies show that refunds or other compensation might only earn you 37% satisfaction after a service failure. Consumers want to know that you care. You can double your satisfaction score to 74% or higher by offering an online apology. In many cases, loyalty is even stronger after the apology than before your brand made the mistake.

When customers get answers to their concerns in real time, this is a remarkable — and remark-worthy — moment. And, all of the friends of these customers get to experience this recovery moment together. So, never let a service failure opportunity go to waste. It’s a great chance to write a completely new story.

If you have your graphic-services department posting ads in social media, that’s nice, but it can further frustrate angry consumers. The last thing they want to see in a response to their complaint is a branded meme about your stellar service. Adding a service-recovery team to your social-media strategy can be expensive, but consider the opportunity cost of staying in the harbor and not winning over a loyal customer for life.

This is one more way to make your story known — by having others tell it for you.

– Excerpt from: Surfing The Black Wave: Brand Leadership in a Digital Age