Faulty product = fabulous PR opportunity?Ok, Ok, the title is a teeny bit misleading here, but when you get to the bottom of this blog, it’ll all become clear. Could a faulty product make a great PR opportunity?

Let’s start at the ideal…

In a perfect world, every product that leaves your shop would be perfect. There would be nothing wrong and you’d only have happy customers. That goes without saying. But we all know that in the real world, through no fault of anyone’s, stuff goes wrong. There are a range of reasons – the damn thing can shrink in the wash, the colour can run, the leather can crack, you name it. The customer contacts you to complain…and here’s where it gets interesting. You can turn this problem into a great PR opportunity that shows how much you care. There are options here, and if you’re a company dealing with the end user in particular, it’s important to really think about how you’re going to deal with these people in a way that conforms to your company policy. I’m not going to look at specifics as everyone has their own policy, and I’m not saying you should go against this at all (as this should be inline with the rules and regs you have to follow), but I’m looking at how you manage this person. In my opinion. And how they can become your biggest cheerleader.

How social media can kick you (hard) or really help

As social media is one of my areas of expertise, let’s look at this, but understand the example can be applied everywhere. Your peed off customer has posted on your Facebook page. They’re not happy. “I bought my x from you, it cost me y, it was for my daughter’s birthday, she’s distraught, I’m beyond livid, your company is a joke”. It happens. Now. She’s posted this publicly, and that’s fine too, if handled correctly. You need to work with this person. Yes, she may have just called you a joke and you’ve taken that badly, and you have absolutely no idea whey she didn’t follow the correct complaints procedure, but in the world of social media, people don’t always do this. They seldom do. They like to air their views and they want everyone to hear them roar. It’s annoying. Actually, it’s very annoying. But now is not your moment to kick off, because the other people who like your page won’t see you there, being insulted, and being annoyed that she hasn’t followed the correct procedure. They’ll either see you a) being helpful and caring or b) being an arse – yes, not a word I usually use in a blog, but scale it up a bit to get people’e true view. They won’t see the full picture, so as you address her and her issues, just keep in mind what other people are seeing and how this either boosts your brand or kicks it in the nuts. Now, follow up with her promptly. Address her issues, work with her. Of course, I’ve assumed that this is a genuine issue. And that her x really is broken. People who are taking the mick are different in some ways but still need careful handling. Follow her complaint through quickly, you might even want to send her a goodwill gesture (which could be a voucher off her next order, or even something small and relevant like a sample of a new products or a little treat). Before you know it, you’ve transferred your ‘nightmare’ into an advocate for your brand, because when she buys from you again, and she will (if you’ve done your best and looked after her), she knows that you will support her and look after her, even if things don’t work out.

Cracking customer service can save the day

Customer service is a dying art, and if you can really hone your skills in this area, it’s far more than just this. It’s going to boost your brand in more ways than you can imagine and it could mean that you can turn negatives into positives. Who would think that faulty products have the potential to create good PR opportunities? Obviously you shouldn’t try and create faulty products, but if one slips through the net, it’s how you deal with it that counts.

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