In the age of social media, customers have now become more comfortable sending their complaints through a tweet or Facebook message than directly contacting your business. This phenomenon is happening both on a large scale and a small one, from corporations to your local business. And it’s fairly easy to see why: customers would rather avoid confrontation.
While online complaints are easy for the customer to make, it’s very difficult for a business to recover from them. About 67% of shoppers state that they would be deterred from buying a product by one to three bad online reviews. Over half of the current Facebook users have over 200 friends, though about 15% of them have more than 500. The average number of Twitter followers for a single account is 208 people, though let’s not forget that a hashtag could increase the number of views a single tweet has exponentially. If the customer decides to tag your business in a post or write the post on your Facebook business page, that grievance could be seen by all of your followers or potential customers. With these kinds of numbers, you don’t want to ruin your reputation with bad social media customer service.
How do you transfer your customer service to a social media format?
- Have employees that are assigned to manage social media complaints. They can be your regular customer service representatives, and they can do the job part-time. Just make sure that they consistently check social media for new messages.
- Before you begin customer service online, come up with a strategy. Who should tackle which type of complaints? What kind of tone will you be using when responding to customers online? Some of these details can be ironed out along the way, but thinking up a strategy now will help streamline the process.
- Never let a complaint go unanswered. Martiz Research Company specializes in social media analytics, and found that 70% of complaints on Twitter are never answered. Not responding to a grievance looks absolutely terrible – if your current customers cannot get adequate customer service from you, why should potential customers give you their business?
- Respond to the customer as quickly as possible. Even if you cannot yet present them with a solution to their problem, send a reply that lets them know you are working on it.
- Apologize to the customer for the problem, even if the grievance wasn’t your business’s fault.
- Do not ask customers for their personal or account information through social media channels. Instead, ask customers to call you. Give them a phone number in response to their message. Even if the customer never calls, responding in some way to their complaint looks wonderful to potential customers who see the post.
- If customers are looking for information regarding your product or business, send them to the appropriate webpage with the answers. One shortened link that gets them directly where they need to go in a single click is necessary.
- Let the customer know that he or she is talking to a real person. Even in tweets and Facebook posts, have the individual employee sign off with their name. This personalized touch will go a long way with customers; they will also be able to call back and ask for a specific individual to help them with their problem.
- Keep replies short and simple – this shouldn’t be too hard to remember on Twitter, where you are limited to 140 characters. If the problem is complex, ask your customer to give you a call.
- Review each tweet and Facebook response with your team. If a reply received a lot of positive attention, talk about why. If the customer was still not happy, discuss that as well.
How have you handled customer complaints over social media?
Charlton, Graham. “How many bad reviews does it take to deter shoppers?” http://econsultancy.com/blog/7403-how-many-bad-reviews-does-it-take-to-deter-shoppers. (19 Feb. 2014).
Smith, Aaron. “6 new facts about Facebook.” http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/03/6-new-facts-about-facebook/. (19 Feb. 2014).
Roberts, Jeff John. “Typical Twitter user is a young woman with an iPhone & 208 followers.” http://gigaom.com/2012/10/10/the-typical-twitter-user-is-a-young-woman-with-an-iphone-and-208-followers/. (19 Feb. 2014).
Knowledge @Wharton. “The Ignored Side Of Social Media: Customer Service.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/knowledgewharton/2014/01/09/22014/. (19 Feb. 2014).
“Best Practices for Social Media Customer Support.” https://www.viralheat.com/blog/2014/01/06/best-practices-social-media-customer-support/. (19 Feb. 2014).