There are brands that stand out in the minds of consumers. How did they get to that place of prominence and how do you get there too? Some companies make it by putting large amounts of money, time and branding professionals behind their brands, which you may not be able to do. Though it is not only those things that make a successful brand.
Starbucks, for example, has been very successful. Their store designs are good, their products are good, and the staff members in their stores are invariably cheerful. What sets them apart, in my mind though, is how they handle problems when they crop up.
Starbucks recently went through a problem in one of their Philadelphia stores when an employee asked two black men to leave because they asked to use the restroom, though had not bought anything. When they said they were not going to leave, as they were waiting for a friend, the employee called the police who arrested them both. They were later released with no charges filed.
This was a terrible situation that could have caused a lot of problems for Starbucks bottom-line and customer loyalty. However, Starbucks handled the situation extremely well. The CEO immediately apologized profusely and quickly and put the employee on leave pending more information. The event happened on Thursday and by Friday, Starbucks was all over the news with their apologies.
By Monday, the CEO had sat face-to-face with the gentlemen in question to apologize and by Tuesday Starbucks had announced that they would close all 8,000 of their stores for an afternoon in May to hold racial bias training for their staff.
Starbucks may not have mitigated all the damage that was done by the incident, but their strong and hitherto unheard-of response was well received by crisis management and diversity experts.
It was a terrible situation, but the company stood up to the problem, sought solutions and sorted out the problem, saving their brand from a lot more losses than they sustained from closing all their stores for an afternoon.
My point is, if someone complains, whether it is a small or large complaint and whether they complain publicly or privately, take care of the problem. If it is a public complaint, you may wish to resolve it privately, but report the solution to the problem publicly so all your customers who may have seen it on Facebook or Twitter or wherever know that you took care of it.
A tip of the glass from me to you.