Social media has narrowed the gap between a company and its customer base. It has become one of the most common modes of communication. As such, people turn to social media to share special moments, capture live events and, of course, complain about stuff.
An estimated 67% of consumers are active social media users who have used various social media platforms to interact with brands. This means that a large number of complaints lurk in the social media ether, so it is important to apply strategic thinking to quickly resolve complaints.
With social media being one of the easiest ways to reach a business, a business needs to set a good impression at ‘first click’ to portray a positive image. Here are 9 tips to gracefully deal with customer complaints on social media.
- Keep a careful watch over your social media entities
- Respond carefully, not slowly
- Consider the client’s perspective
- Implement a well-informed solution
- Escalate when necessary
- Keep calm, don’t take it personal
- Create a tangible solution
- Identify and ignore trolls
Keep a careful watch over your social media entities
It all starts with knowing what’s out there. Monitoring social media is so important that many companies will hire an individual or a team of people to manage their social media presence. Social media is as important as any other department and has overtaken traditional marketing.
It is important to get ahead of a complaint once it is out there by paying close attention to what is in your notifications and to carefully read external posts.
You can also use various tools, like Hootsuite shown above, to track the mention of your company on different social media platforms. Besides, it is also advised to interact with positive feedback because a responsive culture sets a positive precedent.
Respond carefully, not slowly
People these days are quick to rant on social media when they feel ignored. Their complaint might seem minor, but this can blow up into an undesirable situation if multiple clients complain about the same thing.
Make your audience feel attended to by letting them know a resolution is. Ensure that complaints are responded to in good time and are not a risk to your business. See how quickly Slack responds to a customer complaint:
Showing that you are willing to take responsibility for a bad customer experience will convince the client that your brand is trustworthy.
Consider the client’s perspective
Before you get annoyed that a client is dragging your brand name through the mud, consider what they have been through. Perhaps they have tried to reach you, and feel social media is one way to garner attention because of its public nature.
Sarah O’Connor, who works as a customer service consultant for this essay writing service, advises to understand the customer’s frustration. She says, ‘’They spent hard-earned money on a product or service and feel a sense of loss when things do not go as expected. Be patient in dealing with them, find a way to respond that does not hurt your reputation, or mutate the situation into a bigger mess-up that it already is.’’
When you respond to customers, thank them for their support and show sympathy for their situation. Above all, ensure a solution is in place within 48 hours.
Implement a well-informed solution
Imagine wanting to buy apples and having the seller decide to give you bananas instead? How would you feel? Well, your client will feel the same way if their complaint is not resolved appropriately.
Avoid a blanket approach to every complaint and address each one directly. Apart from simply resolving a complaint, see this as an opportunity to improve your product or service. Create a way to never receive that complaint again.
Besides, swift resolve to a problem helps you gain customer loyalty, and possibly more business from referrals. You have the potential to turn an unhappy client into a satisfied client, depending on how you spin the situation.
Escalate when necessary
Some issues are too complex to solve with a social media comment or message because it may require additional expertise. As soon as you understand the nature and severity of a problem, refer the client to the relevant expert.
Carefully steer the conversation away from the public eye by requesting a private chat or contacting them directly. Some cases are too much to resolve on social media. Besides, it might make the client feel special to be contacted directly for their complaint.
The aim is to mitigate negative feedback and its presence in the public eye when it comes to your brand.
Keep calm, don’t take it personal
If you have a small to medium brand that you run by yourself or with a small team, you might take things personal and become emotional. Your emotions are not good for business, keep a cool head even if the client is rude.
Maintain a sense of empathy throughout the situation, and understand that it is the brand and not you that is being attacked. Yes, it may be your brand, but it is still not you. Always keep a professional yet gentle tone in your response and avoid fueling the negativity. Keeping a good thread of solid communication sets a good example of your brand.
Apologies are possibly one of the most underused yet most powerful tools in the business. Admitting your wrongdoing as a brand shows that you care about your client’s experience.
Even if the situation was mostly out of your hands, apologize for the mistake. An apology creates room for a solution to be crafted, instead of giving an excuse about why you could not deliver - simply apologize.
Create a tangible solution
Usually, social media is a last ditch effort made to get your attention because they have tried other forms of contact and been ignored. Instead of focusing on the problem and interaction, find a way to resolve the problem in a significant way within a short space of time. Propose solutions that they can apply or send help to them if your business allows it.
The last thing you need is a complaint becoming part of your brand when people search for it online. In addition to solving the problem, it is important to work to correct the situation and make your customer feel valued.
Identify and ignore trolls
A ‘troll’ is someone who specifically uses social media to spread a negative outlook on certain issues and spread lies about a brand. There is a difference between a legitimate complaint and those who are just out for the sheer pleasure of hurting others.
Thankfully, you can block and remove such individuals from your page, as well as report them to the specified website and they might get banned.
Dealing with social media complaints in a tactful way can turn your clients into allies as they will be the ones to defend your brand when it is being trashed. Your responsiveness, and showing your humanity garners loyalty from clients. With social media being such an integral part of life, it is important to take this aspect of your business seriously and to work hastily at resolving each crisis. But if you need help, one of our reputation management consultants would be happy to help.