You Can’t Turn Back Time – But You Can Make It Better Next Time

5 ways to get a second chance after a bad customer experience

Adebisi Adewusi
January 31 2019

While mistakes are inevitable, many customers are unforgiving: 89% will not give you a second chance after a negative interaction. Despite the bleak statistics, you still have a chance to earn forgiveness if you play your cards right. In this article, we’ll show you five ways to win customers back after a mishap.

Go Transparent

When you deliver a negative customer experience, customers may nonetheless give you another chance if you have a history of transparency. Sprout Social reported that nine of 10 people are more likely to give transparent brands second chances after bad experiences, and 85% are more likely to stick with them during crises. Here a few ways you can build company transparency: 

  • Apologize: If you’re at fault, acknowledge your mistake. A genuine apology can strengthen the emotional connection between you and your customers. Don’t blame external factors; show your human side, take responsibility, and avoid blanket apologies. During Tesco’s horse meat scandal, the supermarket giant genuinely apologized to customers for selling beef burgers containing horse meat. Tesco’s apology took responsibility and put their customers first. 


  • Present A Solution: 89% of people say a business can regain their trust if it admits to a mistake and outlines the steps it will take to resolve the issue.  So instead of saying “sorry” and calling it a day, give a detailed explanation of how you’re going to fix the situation.
  • Keep Your Word: You can rebuild trust by honoring the promise you made to unhappy customers. When resolving complaints, don’t over-promise. Be realistic with your response, give a clear turnaround time, and when the issue is resolved, contact customers to ensure they’re satisfied with the outcome.

Deal With Complaints Effectively

70% of unhappy customers whose problems were resolved are willing to shop with a business again, though many companies seem lacking in their initiative to right wrongs. 29% of customers who experienced a negative incident said that no action was taken to resolve the problem. Differentiate yourself from competitors and regain your customer’s trust by making proper amends. Here’s how:

  • Insist on Knowledgeable Staff: 46% of all consumers will abandon a brand if faced with untrained staff. Therefore, train frontline staff to develop a 360-degree customer view so that they can be proactive and solve issues quickly. For online agents, you can also adopt skills-based routing to guide customers’ questions and complaints to the most suited customer care team.
  • Solve Complaints in a Single Interaction: 33% of customers want their issues resolved in a single interaction no matter how long it takes. Place priority on quality during each customer interaction and grant customer service reps access to solution-oriented tools and resources that help avoid dragging things out. 
  • Take the Initiative: When consumers believe they’ve put in most of the effort to resolving an issue, they are four times more likely to stop purchasing from the company. Train your staff to go the extra mile to seek agreeable solutions.

Encourage and Act On Customer Feedback

Though not always fun, encouraging frustrated customers to share their feedback about your business can be productive. This will help you detect pain points, create better experiences, and build loyalty. Nearly all customers have a more favorable view of brands that provide opportunities for feedback. Encourage customers to speak up, and prepare to respond to the issues that follow.

Analyze collated feedback to identify trends that indicate problems with your customer experience – then act on it. Domino’s Pizza improved their recipe after receiving reviews that their pizza crust tasted like cardboard and their sauce like ketchup.

The upgraded recipe persuaded customers to give Domino’s a second chance and led to an industry record for same-store sales gains of 14.3% in the first quarter. When working with customer feedback, keep these points in mind:

  • Contact customers who left negative feedback to find out what problems they encountered and what could have been done to improve their experience.
  • Acknowledge and provide a response for every opinion you receive, even if what the customer is requesting isn’t possible. This will make customers feel like they’ve been heard.
  • Share feedback with members of your team and implement changes that will result in the greatest impact for customers.

When collecting feedback, be careful about offering incentives, as they may affect the credibility of the responses.

Offer Restitution  

Goodwill gestures can correct an off-putting experience and increase customer loyalty.  92% of customers plan to stay with a brand that makes them feel valued. Gift cards are a convenient and cost-efficient way to show customers you value them. [RW2] [JG3] In addition, following the value-oriented mindset of consumers, you can offer aggrieved customers a discount on future purchases. These steps provide you with the opportunity to strengthen your relationship with customers and increase the potential of them shopping with you in the future. After complaints about late deliveries, Amazon gave $20 gift cards and refunded shipping charges to customers whose gifts weren’t delivered in time for Christmas Day.

When offering restitution, keep the following in mind:

  • Train frontline staff to express empathy about your customer’s frustrations and apologize before offering recompense.
  • Give your customer service team the ability to compensate customers, but train them to identify legitimate complaints and use discretion.
  • Allow customers to voice how they’d like to be compensated and try to find a solution that works for all.

Offering your customers reparations shows that you value them, leaves them satisfied, and gives your brand credibility. Don’t view it as an expense; it’s a relationship-building investment. 

Recall Bad Products

A survey from Corra found that 31% of complaints are product-related. If your products are consistently delivering a bad experience, recall them. While a  product recall may seem like a death sentence, it can increase brand loyalty when handled responsibly. 87% of consumers are more likely to purchase from and remain loyal to a company or brand that handles a product recall honorably and responsibly. 

If you discover that your product presents a safety risk, initiate a voluntary [JG1] recall; the proactive approach increases customers’ trust. Amazon voluntary recalled a particular stroller over fears it could tip over and injure children.

Start by apologizing for the situation, state the reasons for the recall, and include all steps you’ll be taking to avoid future problems with the product. 

While you could contact every customer who purchased the product, social media may be a more time-efficient way to answer questions, address concerns, and keep customers updated on the recall progress. This isn’t a situation where you can take your time; a speedy resolution will keep customers from abandoning your brand.

Turn A Negative Experience Into A Positive One

Even with the best products and processes, things do go wrong. If you’ve really upset your customers on a large scale, consider a new management structure, drive cultural change, and launch a campaign that shows how you’ve improved. Treat customers right and they’ll help transform even the most embarrassing gaffes into buzzworthy success.

Adebisi Adewusi

Adebisi Adewusi is a freelance B2B writer and a Huffington Post Contributor. When she’s not creating compelling content for businesses, you’ll find her capturing moments with her Nikon d600.

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