Social media is a more direct and personal way for your brand to connect with customers. However, customer service on social media has also become an outlet for clients to tune into when their issues are not being addressed or dealt with effectively through other channels.
Because of the nature of social media being such a public and open space, for the sake of your business and brand reputation, it’s best that every customers’ cry for help be solved as soon as possible
Below, we lay down a plan of action for you to adequately handle customer complaints on social media.
1. Be aware
The internet is an infinite space for sharing information. That’s what makes it so great, yet so scary. You can only respond if you are aware the information or complaint is out there. It’s easy if it’s on your social media page or account as you can control when you receive notifications depending on the type of interaction a client has with your organization.
But how do you catch brand mentions outside your social sphere?
Set up alerts for your brand mention across the web using free tools such as Google Alerts or tools available within your current CRM. Whatever you do, don't let a customer complaint on social media wander around without addressing it.
2. React quickly
Being responsive to a customer complaint on social media shows you are willing to take responsibility and that you care about your customers’ experience. Not to mention it stops an issue from growing and taking a life of its own as other readers add and comment on the original concern.
3. Put yourself in their shoes
Social media is most likely not the first outlet that your angry customer has tried to contact you through. Customers turn to social media because they feel they are not being seen or heard through other channels. It’s a way to get your attention. When you get in touch, thank them for contacting you and be understanding of their frustration.
4. Do your research
Understand your customer's complaint and research their case well within your company before replying. If you can solve their issue without much further discussion, bonus points for you. By knowing your stuff without having to contact the client to have them explain everything all over again, you'll impress your unhappy client and turn the cards in your favor in the eyes of your social media followers.
5. Take it elsewhere
If the case too complex to resolve on social media, offer to connect with your client on an adequate channel. By steering the conversation away from the public’s eyes, you are able to better control the situation in case it escalates.
6. Stay cool
Don’t expect unhappy customers on social media to be polite.
However, don’t take it personally and lose your cool. No matter how rude, being empathetic to their situation always helps. It’s the brand they’re angry with, not you.
By staying professional and keeping the brand voice you avoid feeding the fire and your followers will respect and appreciate you for it.
7. Say sorry
Such a powerful word, yet so underused. It’s hard to admit wrongdoing but when your brand is at fault no matter the reason, it’s important to acknowledge it.
Customers don’t care if your provider did not deliver or the post office was on strike. Apologize and propose a solution instead of giving an excuse.
8. Provide a solution
Social media is used as the last resort for customers to reach out to your brand. Propose a solution to their problem, if not you can expect it to escalate whether it be through them or other users.
No one wants a YouTube videos with hundreds of thousands of view of someone sharing how bad of an experience they had with your brand.
Offer a discount, a freebie, an add-on or that they try your service again free of charge. You’re guaranteed a huge return on investment at little cost to you.
9. Correct misinformation
Sometimes customers make it look much worse than what it really is. While interacting in a public space, it’s important to not only resolve the issue publicly but tone it down and share the reality of the situation if there is any misinformation.
Don’t paint the picture pink, but if your product was delivered 2 days late when the customer said it was a week, mention it politely when providing a solution.
10. Recognize and ignore trolls
There’s a difference between an unhappy customer and a social media troll.
Social media trolls complain for the sheer pleasure of getting a reaction out of your brand and your followers. They are not looking for a solution and have no legitimate complaint.
They can usually be spotted due to their poor grammar and punctuation, their use of capitalization throughout entire sentences, hate speech and personal attacks.
Block, delete, report and move on.
11. Let your advocates do the dirty work for you
Who doesn’t love loyal brand followers? They know you better than you know yourself and always have your back. When someone asks a question about your brand, they’ll answer, when someone trashes you, they’ll defend you.
Your love is rock solid.
Believe it or not, handling customer complaints on social media can be a gift in disguise. The whole world can see how your company strives to make things right and please their customers. When you fix a situation of an unhappy customer publicly, you reassert your brands’ credibility and gain loyal followers.
Ready to tackle the challenge of social media and brand reputation?