Social Media and Handling Customer Complaints
Social media has provided customers with an easy and quick way to vent and complain about poor customer service. And when a customer complains using social media, it can reach thousands of people in a short period of time. So instinctively, managers often want to respond to complaints by refuting them or trying to get the customer to retract their statement. In extreme circumstances, some companies may even retain legal counsel to attempt to frighten a customer into removing their complaint.
Although this may seem a good idea, getting into an online debate with a customer will almost always end in you looking bad. And when attorneys become involved, you may be viewed as bullying your customer or using your power to try and intimidate them.
How to Respond Properly
In many cases companies simply choose to ignore customer complaints believing they will go away or will not affect their business. Others may think it a waste of time to respond if you can’t solve the customer’s problem. But the truth is, not responding may be seen as uncaring while responding says you are listening to your customers and want to make them happy. Along with responding, it is important to do it expeditiously (that is within 24 hours).
For this reason, larger corporations should have a plan in place to keep up with comments being made about them online. This can be done by hiring a social media expert or promoting one of your leading customer service representatives to handle that role. Smaller companies may not need to watch the internet as closely, but should be aware of feedback on major social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
Besides responding in a timely fashion, you should respond to customers privately and directly whenever possible. Take the time to prepare a well thought out response. Don’t sound defensive or condescending. Instead, attempt to be positive and considerate to this customer despite their displeasure with your business and/or services. Speaking privately will further give you the chance to see if there is something you might be able to do to fix the problem.
If you are unable to respond privately, you will have no choice but to respond directly to the complaint publicly. In this case, you must definitely choose your words carefully and wisely. Be brief and positive while also doing your best to get an e-mail address or phone number to attempt to communicate with them privately in the future.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of an apology. Simply put, don’t be afraid to tell your customer you are sorry for whatever occurred that made them unhappy. When responding however, be sure your apology is genuine. Your customer will know if you are just trying to appease them.