How to Respond to a Customer Revolt

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You might not think of customers as a threat to your business. But thanks to social media, consumers can now incite insurgencies that overturn even the most strategic initiatives (see the Gap logo and Netflix debacles). Here are three steps for reacting to a customer rebellion:

  • Listen and respond. Many brands get into trouble by failing to notice warning signs. Be sure your company has tools for monitoring social media, a crack team of social analysts and customer advocates, and a genuine commitment to act on what you see and hear.
  • Engage and dissipate. Potential insurgents are far more likely to trust a fellow customer than you. To neutralize a problem before it spreads, encourage brand advocates to speak on your behalf.
  • Involve and transform. Prevent riots from happening in the first place by involving customers in making key strategic decisions. This could be as simple as establishing and moderating online customer support communities; or as involved as innovating your customer strategy, relationships, and processes to be more collaborative.

Adapted from “Countering a Customer Insurgency” by Mark Bonchek and Chris Fussell.

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