Great customer service goes beyond fixing an appliance or handing out discounts. It’s about leaving people with a good feeling about your business. But even the most successful of businesses have failed the customer at some point.

We all remember poor customer experience, and we’re not afraid to share the poor experiences we’ve had, with social media being the complaining platform of choice.  How many times have we read bad reviews on hotels or restaurants as compared to good reviews? Furthermore, how many times have our decisions been influenced by these reviews?

The experiences shared by others online have an enormous effect on our buying decisions. The reality is not formed by marketing departments as much as they are formed by the opinions of others during the customer experience. So how does a business acknowledge the failures to customers, not only to resolve issues, but to go as far as turning the unhappy customer into a loyal brand advocate? If handled correctly, ‘rock bottom’ can serve as the first stepping stone a company needs to begin climbing back to the top.

Check out our top 3 strategies (and examples) to minimize the negativity and amplify the positivity when things go downhill…

1. Start with Your Employees.

Great customer service and experience starts with those delivering it: your employees. So it’s time to start treating your employees as your first valued customer. Why? Because when your employees are happy, so are your customers.

Example: Groove is a San Francisco-based sales engagement platform. According to CEO Chris Rothstein, it’s committed to helping employees develop to reach their own professional goals, even if that means those employees will eventually leave the company. By offering benefits like education reimbursement and one-on-one feedback meetings with employees, leaders have seen consistent staff growth.

“We try to put our team members into projects before they’re necessarily ready, which is, in my opinion, a worthwhile risk for a company to take,” Rothstein said by email. “It empowers the employee to learn new things by trial and pushes them outside their comfort zone.”

Help your employees create detailed action plans for the near and distant future. Take an interest in employees’ objectives and hold them accountable for learning new skills that will help them build the career they want.

2. Invest in the Customer with Cultural Change.

The essence of customer experience leadership is simple: If you say customers matter then invest in the things that improve their experiences. Embracing cultural change and shifting to a customer-centric experience will help you climb out of a deep reputational hole.

Example: Back in 2015, Comcast was in the news often, and it wasn’t a pretty picture. Fast forward over a decade and Comcast is one of the largest organizations in the world. To achieve this success, Comcast has invested in its customer experience at a level which few companies can ever replicate: They not only focused on using technology to improve its omnichannel execution and the experience delivered by its contact centers, but is also improving its core, boots-on-the-ground service interactions with enhancements like narrower appointment windows and bill credits for late technician arrivals. Its leadership team has put significant resources — financial, operational, and human — behind this cultural change, in a way that sends a message to team members and customers alike.

Ultimately the lesson is that true customer experience leaders put their money where their message is.

3. Listen to, and Focus on the Individual Customer Needs.

A great customer service strategy always starts with understanding what your customer needs. And if you really want to know what they need, just ask them. Keeping your customers satisfied with your product or service is non-negotiable and no business should be above willingness to learn. Did you know, as many as 94% of customers say that a negative review convinced them not to do business with a brand? To truly understand your customers, you need the power of customer experience research that monitors your brand to gather critical data (and then knowing what to do with that data through Business Intelligence). You can create wonderful customer experiences just by listening on social media too.

Example: A brand that’s doing this right is Nike. The handle @NikeSupport is dedicated solely to responding to customers who need help. Nike is clearly a huge company with lots of different avenues and products. @NikeSupport allows the company to dedicate an entire account to customer service, which simplifies the process while keeping comments, questions, or concerns in one support hub.

So remember, online platforms are a great way to create and maintain your reputation, no matter if you’re responding to a blog post or talking to customers on Facebook or Twitter.

Incorporating a 360 Approach.

As no brand wants to disappoint and ultimately lose a customer, difficult service situations should be viewed as valuable opportunities to redefine and deliver excellent service with the goal of convincing a customer that the brand cares about their business — and is eager to provide a better customer experience. Adopting one of the above strategies simply won’t cut it when trying to achieve this goal: You need to incorporate them all simultaneously.

Through a mixture of customer research solutions you’ll be able to get a 360 view on how your customers perceive your business and how to create a more positive experience time and time again.  The better the impression you make on them, the more likely they will not only come back, but share that positive story with other prospective customers.