Managing Complaints on Your Social Platforms
If there is one thing a business doesn’t like, it’s a complaint. Complaints can have far-reaching cons
equences whether it’s losing a valued customer; losing out on potential customers; or even your reputation being torn to shreds overnight. Complaints are a common
factor for all businesses, but need to be correctly managed. It’s not just about damage limitation – handled correctly your reputation could even be enhanced.
The nature of social media has changed the way complaints work for businesses. In the past they were largely private – a phone call a letter, or more recently an email. The dialogue would be between the customer and the business only. Now, social media has made it more public, complaints on Facebook or Twitter are seen by many people and, even worse, can be shared and end up going viral. The enormous increase in social media over the past few years has led to more and more complaints being issued through this medium. These complaints require different handling.
What can be done to minimise damage?
- Respond quickly – everything in social media is real-time, all customer messages are in the public domain as soon as they are sent. This means complaints need to be replied to quickly, preferably within an hour. Complaints that are left a long time without being dealt with could create more problems with customers and could damage your reputation and end up spiralling out of control.
- Is it worth a response – sometimes the complaint is something that can’t be easily solved, it’s just a general criticism. Often complaints like this are best left – take it on the chin. However, if you must respond, accept the criticism and pledge to find a way to improve your service.
- Accepting mistakes – the fact is, from time to time, your business will make mistakes and, again, the best thing you can do is accept it. If you try to defend your errors customers could become annoyed because they may feel that problems will never be sorted. Accepting your responsibility demonstrates humility, as well as showing you will go the extra mile to resolve problems.
- Talk offline – when a complaint is made, talk to the customer offline, have a one-to-one chat. If the problem escalates the last thing you want is for that to happen in the public eye. Not only could you lose the customer you are talking to, but the conversation could go viral and damage your reputation.
- Respond personally – a customer who complains is looking for you to accept there is a problem, so automated responses are not helpful. These give the impression you neither care nor have you taken the time to read the complaint. When you respond use a conversational tone and address the complaint directly – this shows you are responding to their needs.
- Follow up responses – once an issue has been resolved don’t stop there. Follow up by asking the customer if they are satisfied the issue has been resolved satisfactorily. This is good customer relations and demonstrates you value their opinion.
- Don’t talk like a robot – be human! From a keyboard it’s easy for a customer to be abusive or critical, but if you react in a friendly, human and conversational tone it changes everything. Once the customer realises there is another person on the other end being helpful they will often quickly change their tone. This makes it a lot easier to help them.
- Never argue – this is a big NO. You may well be right, but all the customer will see is that you are defensive and unable to admit fault. You will also appear aggressive. Keep your emotions in check and remember you are also dealing with a real person. The way you respond will be seen by everyone, so if you remain calm and fix the problem you will help your reputation.
It’s all about great customer service
At the heart of it, it’s all about helping the customer. If you go out of your way in a friendly, positive and approachable manner you are going to come across well, and that’s the key.
Much of it is commonsense, ‘make sure you do this, don’t do that’ etc. However, occasionally situations may arise that you don’t expect – but if you take note of the above points you will be on the right track. And, of course, it’s a great idea to give periodic training to your employees helping them to focus on acting in a positive manner towards your customers.
Remember, the customer is ALWAYS right.