You might have noticed that Bluehost was down yesterday and today.
I believe it's the third major outage within a year.
For many of those businesses who host their websites on Bluehost, extended outages (and I am talking here more than 30 minutes or in this case today, more than 29 hours and counting!) means loss of traffic and revenue, disgruntled potential leads, and angry customers.
Bluehost hosts over 2 million websites. So if even a small percentage of them go dark for a bit, they have a lot of angry customers on their hands.
This means a major catastrophe to the hosting company! People are tweeting angrily to customer support, threatening to leave once the website is up again.
Competitors are using promoted tweets offering free migration service to help businesses switch away from Bluehost.
But I am not here to talk about GoDaddy. I want to share some ideas from an Inbound Marketing perspective on how to turn this disaster into a somewhat positive experience.
Even problems can be an opportunity to delight customers
Angry customers talk and share their experience. Depending what industry you are in, one angry customer will tell 6 to 20 other people about their experiences. That is not taking social media into account.
As an Inbound Marketing Agency, we could not help but wonder: how can you turn those (rightfully so) upset individuals that are very verbal in social media and turn them around into happy or at least happier clients.
Even if you are not in the repeating customer kind of business, you need happy customers. Happy customers make great promoters. Happy customers give helpful reviews. Happy customers will come back for more.
So how can we turn angry customers into happy customers?
1) Sincere outreach and follow-up
Something went wrong. That happens to everyone sometimes. So, if you have an angry customer, reach out in a sincere way and inquire about what went wrong. Try to fix their problem before they get frustrated.
In Bluehost's case, they know what went wrong. So a sincere email or follow up to apologize for the outage and the damages caused by it is a first step.
2) Open communication
The angry customer is more likely to show understanding for the existing problem if you openly explain what caused the problem and what you have done (or are still doing) to fix it.
In this case, Bluehost posted a vague message about the cause of the outages. Customers calling support waiting more than 30 minutes to speak to someone and then were hung up on. This left some people guessing they have something to hide.
3) Personalize, personalize and personalize
Whenever possible, use personalized messages addressing the sender and the problem directly. Do not use any pre-written text that you just copied and pasted.
However in time of a crisis and when time is of essence, as it was today for Bluehost, when replying to hundreds of tweets an hour, you have to (and maybe should use pre-written and pre-approved messages to reply to every tweet.
Their support staff on Twitter responded to us in a friendly and courteous manner.
4) Solve the problem
I mentioned Dell before as an example of great Inbound success. DellCares is Dell's customer service Twitter account where a support staff responds to tweets of customers who need help. Not only will they respond with a personalized message (if possible with the person's name) but also solve the customer's problem. After providing a solution, they will reach out again to ask if it fixed the problem.
5) Be realistic
When you are solving your client's problem, be realistic about setting expectations. Do your best to give an estimated time of when you can get back to them with a solution if not immediately.
6) Try to over-deliver
Be proactive and offer a coupon, compensation for the damage or an extra bonus to make up for the inconveniences caused. The timing is very critical here.
If you wait for customers to reach out and ask for it, their expectation is already set. If you do not offer them what they have in mind, they will be unhappy. If you reach out before that and make a sincere effort, you might take them by surprise with a nice gesture and leave them with a better impression of your company than they had before the problem.