Worst Case Scenario: Dealing With Bad-For-Business Situations Online

They say that to appreciate the good days, you need to go through a few bad ones. This applies to both your personal life AND your business. Sometimes a situation arises in retail where you need to do some damage control. The good news is that you can often use a bad situation to show your customers just how much you care about their loyalty and trust.


Though a product recall is of no fault of yours, you do have the responsibility of alerting your customers of the recall and giving them the next steps to take. Recalls are announced through the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an independent government agency. However, your vendors should make you aware of any product recalls that may affect your customers. If you want to keep an even closer eye on product recalls, you can sign up for the recall email on the U.C.P.C. website. Be sure to use email and social media to reach out to your customers and let them know that they may have purchased an unsafe item from your store. When a customer’s safety is in question, it is important that a recall is not swept under the rug! Rather, you should let customers know you are keeping an eye out for them  while providing instructions on how they can return the product.

A Negative Social Media Post

Long gone are the days where you have plenty of time to think about what to say to a negative comment about your business. A few bad words can go viral in just a few seconds, and it’s up to you to stay calm and handle the situation accordingly.

It is important to handle every customer’s comments – even if they are less-than-friendly or unwarranted. Rather than deleting a comment, be sure to thoroughly address any issues or problems to show that you are willing to work with them and concerned with their satisfaction in your store. If the situation is something that you would rather not discuss on a public medium such as a social media site, it is completely acceptable to respond with something such as, “Hi, [Name]. I’m so sorry that you’ve run into this issue. Please email me at email@storename.com and we will get this fixed as soon as possible. Thank you!” You may even wish to respond publically so that your community can see your willingness to ensure exceptional customer service. Treat an angry customer online the same way you would treat them in person – with patience and respect!

Unforeseen Events

Sometimes you may need to close the store unexpectedly, or you’ll have to cancel an event at the last minute. When Newton’s law takes over and anything that can go wrong does go wrong, it’s important to keep customers in the know. Try to give them as much warning as possible that your schedule will be temporarily changing. Don’t be afraid to make up for it in another way. This can be done by offering extended hours at a later date or giving them a coupon for their next purchase!

A Bad Review

A bad review on a site such as Yelp or Foursquare can sting – and can be bad for business. The first step you should take in order to be sure that you have a little bit of control over how your business is represented online is to claim your online listings. Once you’ve done this, you know that someone else doesn’t have control over these mediums without your knowledge.

Next, you need to handle a negative review on any website the same way you handle it on social media. Keep calm, be apologetic and understanding of their needs. The customer may not always ACTUALLY be right, but you should never tell them that. Take every step you can to let them know you will work to fix the problem and that keeping them as a customer is important to you.

If it  fits your store’s ersonality, you may even want to have a little bit of fun with your bad review, like the owner of this New York City sandwich shop! Take customer feedback seriously, but don’t let it ruin your attitude.

Remember, you can’t please everyone. No business is immune to cranky customers! Just continue to provide the best service you can for your customers, whether they are singing your praises or complaining your ear off.

Posted on Snap Retail’s Blog by Jessica Brown on August 16, 2012

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