HP Sauce and how to make complaint responses better

How you write to complaining customers determines the response you get back.

A little while ago, HP Sauce changed their recipe.  Even though the change was tiny, people thought they could taste the difference. It caused a storm of customer complaints, articles in the UK press, on the radio and TV.

Twitter and Facebook agreed, with tweets and messages demanding the old recipe back.  HP did the right thing and wrote back to anyone who complained, trying to explain why they’d changed the recipe. Unfortunately, the response (you can see a copy in the Slideshare below) made it sound as though customers, rather than HP, were at fault.

We haven’t seen HP’s complaint stats, but it’s likely their complaint response would have ended up generating more complaints itself. It’s not uncommon; the way organisations communicate with complaining customers can end up making the original complaint worse.

Responding to customer complaints

Help your teams to respond to complaints in a human, customer-centric way.

Responding to customer complaints

A combination of trying to avoid being blamed, dismissing customer concerns and seeming not to ‘hear’ what customers are saying can all cause more complaints.

The more effective way to handle complaints is to understand their emotional impact (people can get irate over apparently small things), focus on what matters to the customer, be authentic and give people honest reasons why you’ve done what you’ve done.

In this Slideshare we look at how to handle customer complaints and how HP could have done it differently.

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