In the digital age of immediacy and the desire for instant results, consumers unhappy with their goods and services often use social media to air their frustrations. Why are emails and calls becoming a thing of the past? Well, in simple terms, it is all about exposure. A single tweet has the power and capability to reach thousands of users in a matter of minutes, especially those that use the @handle of the business in question. Today’s post talks about how to handle those complaints in a timely manner and how to remedy your customer’s problems in the right way.
Find those mentions!
Finding every single post that is a complaint directed at your business will likely seem an impossible task, and you would not be wrong for thinking that. Calls and emails are easy, they’re often directed straight to you and you have a number or a name. It’s far harder to find these same complaints in the Twitter-verse, for example.
A New York University study found that less than 5% of complaints regarding customer service featured the company’s @handle in the tweet. And further still, only half of users who write out complaints online are expecting a response from the business, so it may not even reference the name of your company!
This is why, especially for larger companies who rely on a strong customer reputation, using software that captures these indirect posts are essential in ensuring your customer’s complaints are rectified.
Plain and simple – the faster you respond to a complaint or an issue, the quicker it can be resolved and the less likely you are to run in to trouble. Typically, you would want to be responding to a social media post within the hour (around 40% of users expect a response within half this time!). So once again, alert software, social media management tools, Google alerts – these will all help flag up anything coming your way.
Once you’ve found those posts, the next step is how to engage with the customer. The last thing they’re going to want to hear is a generic, robotic response that would be found in the replies to every complaint online.
Making it human is the difference between a resolution and an ongoing complaint.
Showing empathy – and of course apologising – is a great way to start, but ensure you are making the apology sincere and not half-hearted (“I’m sorry you feel this way” is a quick way to antagonise the situation!). Address the customer by their name, perhaps introduce yourself and tailor your response to their specific complaint. This will effectively show the customer that you are firstly taking their complaint seriously, and secondly that they are engaging in a real conversation with a human and are being heard.
Reply publicly, resolve privately
Replying to complaints publicly is beneficial for two reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, it shows the customer you are hearing their voice. And secondly, it shows any onlookers/spectators that you are willing to help your customers with their issues and helps build a strong customer service reputation.
Having said that, you don’t want to force the customer to air their complaints online in a thread of 20+ tweets or comments. A good step is to invite them to continue the conversation in direct messages or private inboxes (or even offer a number they can call). That way, you can pull all the details of the complaint, including order numbers, delivery address etc. Information they wouldn’t be comfortable sharing on a public platform.
And once again, to onlookers, you’re doing your part. You’ve responded, you’ve been timely, you’ve shown empathy and apologised and now you’re fixing the issue privately,
Don’t delete the complaints
Having a complaint sitting on social media, for anyone to see, is going to be a frustrating experience and one that you will be keen to erase. However, as tempting as it might be to remove any evidence of wrongdoing on your company’s part, doing so will potentially look even worse for your customer service reputation and will likely irritate the customer.
It’s not all bad news though! Leaving complaints online that are followed up with your timely and empathetic resolutions are a viewing gallery for any future customers and social media spectators and will once again reinforce your strong customer service relationships.
The final step is to ensure you are reconnecting with your customer a few days after the issue was initially addressed. Are they happy with the customer service they received? Has the complaint been resolved? Is there anything the customer felt you could have done better?
All of this information will be crucial in growing your understanding of how to deal with online complaints and make the experience more efficient for any future mishaps.
So there you have it – the six key steps you need to take in ensuring that each and every social media complaint you receive is dealt with correctly and empathetically. Need further help with your social media, or feeling overwhelmed with responding to customers or clients? Take a read of our social media management service and see how we could help you!