It seems nearly everyday you read a headline of a brand in trouble for not handling customer complaints on social media appropriately. I'm seen some brands go so far as to call their customers names on Facebook. Crazy!
Social media has forever transformed the nature of customer complaints. Customers have greater control, a louder voice and much broader reach; which can have serious impacts on your reputation.
So how should you manage customer complaints on social media?
Facebook is customer service
Often we think Facebook interactions are different to customer service, when in fact they aren't - the premise is the same. All businesses rely on customers so we have to treat them with respect, whether it's in person or on social media.
It's crucial you respond to complaints quickly, be helpful, treat customers with respect, and always be friendly and polite. The worst thing you can do is ignore the tweet, or Facebook comment, or respond in a negative or abusive way.
Deal with it privately
The general rule when dealing with customer complaints on social media is move it from public to private as soon as possible.
Be a respectful customer
Complaining has never been so easy. Customers can hide behind anonymity to make complaints that they may not have made in person.
Customers can complain with very little thought or respect for the people that hear it. Everyone has the responsibility to stop and think about how their remarks impact the business owner or their staff.
I do think that business owners have a "right of reply," so long as the reply is done in a respectful and tactful way. If a customer is being unreasonable or abusive, comments can be deleted or responded to.
Top tips to help you respond to a negative comment on Twitter, Facebook or a blog.
- Post a polite public reply in response to the negative comment and offer a clear process for resolving the issue.
- Deal with the issue on a more personal level by asking for their contact details. Send them an email or call them on the phone.
- Always stay calm and do not aggravate the situation further by getting angry or responding negatively.
It's all about treating people the way we would like to be treated. Speaking up when we need to and always being respectful.
About the author
Catriona Pollard is the author of From Unknown To Expert, a step by step framework designed to help entrepreneurs develop effective PR and social media strategies to become recognised as influencers in their field. www.unknowntoexpert.com
Catriona is also the director of CP Communications, which merges traditional PR tactics with cutting-edge social media strategies that engage consumers as well as business. www.cpcommunications.com.au