How Call Centers can Rebuild Customers’ Trust in a PR Crisis

Regain Customers Trust

PR disasters don’t play favorites. So, if you think you’re exempt from PR disasters, think again. Even the best companies have them.

Volkswagen, Toyota, Equifax, Dove, and Samsung are just a few of the companies that have PR disasters in recent memory.

All have lost considerable value and customers thanks to their PR nightmares. But a PR disaster can hit at any time.

What you do right after a PR disaster occurs, however, Is critical. Being silent or slow to communicate after a disaster can do more harm than good.

To survive a major PR hit, you need to regain customers trust as soon as possible. Below are proven steps you can take to rebuild trust.

Call Centers: The First Line of Defense

Call centers are often the first to detect when a PR disaster hits:

  • Help desk service desk or customer service phones start ringing off the hook.
  • Irate customers call in droves.
  • Demands by callers to speak with managers grow.

These signs tell you somethings wrong.

But call centers are also your first line of defense when disasters strike. So how can call centers help? Below are some best practices you take lessen a disaster impact:

Set up a separate number

Separating disaster calls from regular calls is a good start. You may also want to assign a different number for the calls or borrow staff from other departments to handle these calls. This step ensures that disaster calls don’t disrupt the normal business activities at the call center and your business.

Allow agents to vent

Taking agents off disaster calls for a few minutes is a good idea. It lets them release the stress that builds up in these situations. Otherwise, their frustrations may boil over and impact callers. They can provide some ideas on how to improve the situation.

Empower team leaders

Empowering call center team leaders help. They may be able to improvise temporary solutions to problems until more permanent ones are found—including escalation measures and solutions to complaints. Empowering team leaders may also help agents resolve disputes faster.

Keep brand managers informed

Keep brand managers informed every step of the way. That will help protect the brand’s reputation. Communication is especially important if you’ve outsourced your call center activities. Meanwhile, customer care managers can also suggest sound solutions based on customer feedback.

Rebuilding Trust with Consumers

Handling calls at your call center is the first step in rebuilding trust with consumers when a PR-disaster occurs. The second step is taking concrete measures designed to restore trust. Below are some proven trust-building activities:

1. Own the issue

You need to recognize the issue right away. That tells consumers you’re taking responsibility for the disaster. If you have to, set up a task force with no more than four members to investigate the issue and make recommendations.

2. Capitalize on social media

There are always two sides to every story. Social media can help you tell your side. But you need to rely on your friends to do it. Arm them with talking points, tools, and outreach protocols to start and maintain dialogues on social media with your brand’s community.

3. Create empathy with consumers

One way to create empathy is to overreach in consumers’ favor. In other words, do more than you have to resolve the issue. Choose compensations so generous your rivals and detractors will marvel. When trying to rebuild trust, it’s no time to think about short-term revenue issues.

4. Think as your competitors think.

Your competitors will be poised to acquire your customers. To retain them, you need to see the crisis as an opportunity and take steps to capitalize on it. Act as quickly as possible to make things right. Set up another task force if you have to with the goal of stopping the bleeding.

5. Rebuild your long-term reputation

You just lost your most crucial brand value—trust. So everything you say and do will be suspect. Having taken short-term measures to shore up trust, you now need to determine how you’re going to rebuild it long-term. Look at everything you do from that viewpoint.

One thing you’ll want to avoid early on is advertising. Not one will trust anything you say anyway, so you might just be wasting your money.

PR disasters happen—even to the best of companies.  But staying silent or reacting slowly when one occurs you could be doing yourself more harm than good. Rebuilding trust after the crisis, however, is critical to your survival.