In almost any business, there’s always the chance of a public relations issue arising. Whether just from circumstances you couldn’t control or by an actual fault on the part of one of your employees, this PR faux pas can present very real difficulties for your business. Here are four of the most common PR issues you may face and how you can handle them effectively.
Bad Service Experience
If one of your customers has a negative experience with your customer service for any reason, it can lead to some very negative word of mouth advertising for your business. In such a situation, it’s usually worth it to do whatever you possibly can to remedy that customer’s experience, even if it means offering a complete refund. If you can leave the customer with at least a neutral opinion of your business, you’ll be in relatively good shape. A bad customer experience can also prove to be a valuable teaching moment for members of your service staff.
Receiving a Defective Product
Nothing is more likely to irk a customer than buying a defective product from you. The impact that this can have ranged from merely having an unsatisfied customer to the product defect causing an injury and a personal injury lawyer being retained by the customer. The level of the problem will determine what you need to do to solve it. If you just get a customer complaint, refund the item completely or offer a replacement. If the customer is preparing to sue you for injury, consult with your own legal team to determine the best course of action.
Upsetting the Community
One of the more peculiar PR problems to navigate is the case of an upset community, rather than an upset customer. To give an example, suppose you planned to expand your business into a new location that required you to acquire and demolish one or more existing properties. If the properties to be eliminated were regarded as generally beneficial or attractive by the community, you may find yourself in the middle of a public relations storm. When this happens, the best course of action you can take is to listen to the concerns of the people who live in your town or city and attempt to mitigate them as best you can. A bit of willingness to compromise in such a situation will go a long way toward solving the problem.
A Legitimately Bad Customer
Most of the time, bad PR comes from some action on your part. Once in a while, however, you’ll simply have a bad customer try to tarnish your reputation. This is a difficult problem to solve because such customers have no legitimate grievance for you to solve. Continue to be polite and do what you can to improve the customer’s experience, but accept that if a customer is simply asking for unreasonable concessions on your part that there may be nothing you can effectively do. When this kind of situation arises, the best thing you can do is simply to keep focusing on providing great service for all of your other customers so that any negative impact to your reputation as a business from the one bad customer is minimized.
These are some of the major public relations debacles you may run into during your time in business. Above all, the key to solving these problems is to keep a cool head. If you don’t, there’s a good chance you’ll just make the situation worse.