Customer Experience News & Trends

Make a good business move out of a bad customer experience

One person who’s having a bad day can wreak havoc on all of your good customer experience efforts. Just ask Whataburger — and see how they turned it around.

As much as you’d like to keep a watchful eye over every touch point and ensure customers have positive experiences, things can still go wrong.

As a result, an employee’s bad day might spill into a subpar experience for customers — and go viral from there. That also presents an opportunity to rebound with tact and class.

One bad example

A front-line Whataburger employee in Lewisville, TX, recently refused to serve a pair of uniformed police officers. He didn’t give a reason. He just said, “We don’t serve police officers.”

The officers posted what happened on social media and outrage against the burger joint caught fire.

Whataburger quickly responded, “We would never condone this action and this is completely unacceptable. We are working hard to address this as soon as possible.”

Of course, that employee wasn’t trained by Whataburger to act like that. And it wasn’t the experience the chain wanted customers to have. The employee was fired, and the officers were invited back so the company could “make it right.”

One good response

While some damage had been done to Whataburger’s reputation, in the long run it will likely be small and short-lived. That’s mostly because the company rebounded well after a poor customer experience.

Two good rebound tactics: A) Whataburger responded quickly, and B) The chain continued to use the phrases “apologize” and “make it right” in subsequent social media exchanges.

Here are 4 other keys to a solid rebound when something goes wrong — and/or viral — in a customer experience:

  • Be apologetic and vague at first. It’s very important that you apologize for any poor behavior that’s called out. But you don’t want to make any certain statements about what went wrong, how people will be affected and what will happen until you have a plan. That plan must include how you’ll find out exactly what happened and how you’ll respond.
  • Be unified. The plan for post-bad-experience response needs to be unified and consistent. If possible, it should come from one, appropriate person. That person can create the social media posts, public announcements and correspondence to customers.
  • Get specific. Whataburger took a day to explain what it would do — fire the employee and make attempts to make amends with the officers — and where it would try to improve. After you have time to plan, tell customers exactly what you will do.
  • Take responsibility. In the Whataburger situation, the employee was responsible for the bad experience. But the company didn’t try to remove itself from responsibility for what happened. They hired, trained and put the employee in a position to make a bad, public decision, so it had some culpability there. When you need to rebound, don’t try to blame people or circumstances. Take responsibility for what went wrong, and more importantly, what will happen to make it right.

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