Thanks to social media, the sordid details of a bad customer experience can spread across the globe before a company is even aware of a problem.

We’ve all seen CX disasters unfold before our eyes, whether it be a poorly-worded Facebook response to a complaint that prompts hundreds of negative comments, or worse – a company appearing to ignore an issue altogether, bringing into question its entire attitude towards Customer Experience.

Let’s be realistic – mistakes can and will happen, but it shouldn’t spell disaster by following a few simple rules.

1 – Don’t be in denial.

Whether or not an error in the CX process was directly your fault, or the result of circumstances out of your control, own up to it and acknowledge the customer’s concerns. Being defensive – for instance, a customer service representative trying to shift the blame outside of the company’s influence – will only ensure the customer is lost forever.

Own up to mistakes earnestly, and where necessary, offer a profuse apology, preferably in the form of personal correspondence – so forget about auto-responses, and for goodness-sake, spell their name properly!

2 – Be generous

A bad customer encounter will race across newsfeeds like a gorse fire, but offering compensation such as future discounts will show that you mean business when it comes to customer care and doing what is necessary to make amends. Hopefully, news of this rectifying will also spread.

Just remember – freebies without a sincere apology can make an image problem go from bad to worse!

3 – Be quick about it

Owning up to a mistake and offering to fix it is meaningless unless carried out as soon as possible. A wronged customer is an impatient one, and the longer you take in solving a problem, the less sincere you appear. Unnecessary delays also allow more time for them to share their negativity online. Every second counts!

4 – Get to the root of the problem

OK, so a customer is unhappy and you aim to fix it, but are you also working on preventing a repeat of the problem? Whether they were overcharged, endured poor customer service, or received the wrong order, don’t allow it to happen again. Each mistake should be a learning curve, and repeated mistakes will be swiftly spotted and identified publicly on social media. Don’t earn a bad reputation – it can take a long time to undo.

5 – Prepare your staff

Is everyone in your team on the same page when it comes to addressing CX blunders? It’s all very well reading up on the dos and don’ts of dealing with an aggrieved customer, but if the rest of the team aren’t on board, good work on resolving a bad situation can be undone very quickly indeed.

Don’t let a weak link in the chain prevent your company from rescuing a customer’s future engagement.

6 – Know who you’re dealing with

Customer service software giant Zendesk used a survey to discover that the people most likely to cut off all engagement following a bad experience are repeat customers.

That’s right, the more loyal a customer, the more likely they are to take their business elsewhere. All customers deserve the best treatment, but identifying a repeat customer can help prevent losing them altogether, and suffering negative feedback online in the process.