Michele Drohan, EVP, Client Services

One of our clients challenged us this week to find a way to call out a product they had improved. The perception (and the truth) was that this particular product—in this particular niche industry—was indeed subpar for a while. And our client fixed it. Really, really well.

What brand doesn’t slip now and then? From large, global corporations accused of being environmentally negligent, to the small online retailer that suffers an inventory issue, most businesses, at one time or another, experience the Unhappy Customer Moment.

The good news? There is such an abundance of feedback channels and data now to provide immediate and rich information on how our customers are experiencing our products and our brands. The even better news? This information provides us with an extraordinary opportunity for change. To respond. To fix the problem.

But then what? How do we change a customer’s perception of a problem? Well, don’t sweep it under the rug. Market the solution. Really market it.

There are many ways and means to do this. But here are a few guiding principles to help get you started:

Be honest: Admit it. Point right to the perception of weakness in your business. Was it a substandard product? Was your pricing thought to be a little too high? No matter the issue, call it out. This authentic and very human sense of self-awareness (your brand self) and apology goes a long way towards getting trust back. It can also disarm your customer in a very positive way, such that they may be ready to listen and be open to you resetting the story. One of our clients had a price perception issue. A postcard with a large headline that read, “Us? Expensive? Not Anymore.” proved powerfully successful.

Be bold: That’s right, be confident. You’ve listened to the feedback and addressed the problem. Don’t be shy, but rather, shout it to the rooftops. Whether it’s bold design, a provocative headline or a more unconventional method to reach your customers, get yourself noticed. You’ll need to be bold to break the barriers of the negative perception.

Say it everywhere, and say it often: Once isn’t enough, and neither is one channel. Put your message everywhere your customers are. Often. Seriously, like, a lot. And for kind of a long time. Be brave.

Get other people to say it, too: Unfortunately, bad reviews about a company or product travel faster than the good ones… and there are a lot more of them. Studies have shown that customers who experience a bad interaction are 50% more likely to share about it on social media than those who had good experiences. Work to counteract this—and not just on social media—with testimonials from now happy customers that have experienced the turnaround.

Prove it. Make sure you can substantiate your claims.

Finding a solution to a business weakness can be a tough road, and the mountain can be steep. But a problem, solved, can be an extraordinary opportunity to grow product and brand loyalty.

Because it shows you listened.

Interested in finding your own unexpected marketing opportunities? Shoot me a note to chat at micheled@jschmid.com.

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