The job of public relations professionals is to manage the relationship between the organization and their publics. One of the largest and most influential publics is consumers. Dealing with consumers is a front-line responsibility of public relations.
There are many objectives that go along with consumer relations. All of them surround the overall objective of increasing sales. It is the job of public relations professionals to not only keep current customers happy, but also attract new customers so the company can grow. In addition, they must work to market new products and deal with customer complaints.
Handling customer complaints is a large part of consumer relations. Because of the increased use of technology and the internet, customers can complain on social media, blogs, message boards, and product review sites. This is called consumer-generated media. When customers post on these platforms, there is always the chance of the complaint going viral, especially when social media is used.
Airlines especially struggle with receiving complaints from customers, specifically on Twitter. United Airlines is facing lots of angry customers recently as a video was posted on Twitter showing a man on an overbooked flight being forcibly removed from his seat and dragged through the aisle. This incident quickly went viral, and people were outraged to see what they considered to be unacceptable behavior. Some people claimed they would not fly with United again. While the incident itself might not have been a huge deal originally, the story spread quickly on social media. United Airlines has apologized and issued a statement, but people are still upset. The company now has to work to build back its trust with consumers and recover its image.
Having positive consumer relations is critical to a business’s success. However, it is not always an easy task. Whenever there is a customer complaint, the company should deal with it quickly, thoroughly, and efficiently. Any business can benefit from good consumer relations, whether it is a large corporation or a small mom-and-pop shop. It is necessary for a business to cultivate good customer relations in order to attract and keep a loyal base of customers.