Just a few years ago, unhappy customers had two formal options: write a complaint letter/email, or ask to speak to a manager. Of course, this was in addition to personally telling all their friends about their experience.
With social media, unhappy customers can now broadcast their complaints, not only to their friends, but to anyone who’s listening.
In one way this is great for customer service advocates—the people now have a platform to expose bad companies. On the other hand, there are people who abuse these channels to tarnish good companies, hoping to be reimbursed with gift cards, upgrades and free goods.
If you’re one of these good companies, eGain CEO and customer service expert Ashu Roy shares five things you can do to protect your business from being taken advantage of in social media.
Identify the customer. Try to familiarise yourself with who the complaining customer is. This will help you address his/her specific concerns and not just state generalities.
Acknowledge the dissatisfaction in the venue it was originally voiced. If the customer complains via Twitter, acknowledge the complaint in Twitter.
Move the conversation out of the public space. Suggest to the customer moving the conversation to a phone or email conversation. It is virtually impossible to solve problems in 140 characters (if Twitter), and there is no need for the problem solving to be done publicly.
Train your customer service team to handle social media complaints. Have best practices in place. Companies traditionally have a standard way of handling complaints that come in over the phone or via email, yet many companies have neglected to have such a process in place for social complaints.
Make sure a customer complaining in a social space is receiving the same quality and consistency of service as one complaining through different channels. This will discourage customers from shopping around your customer service channels for a better offer.
(Shopping around: Calling over the phone to complain and be offered compensation. Then emailing the complaint to see if the email compensation is better. Finally, posting on Twitter to see if the final offer is better than the first two.)
Be proactive when it comes to social media. Don’t simply use a corporate feed to respond to complaints. If you do this, your entire presence will be negative. Be positively engaging with customers as well.
Essentially, handling social media complainers should be no more difficult or time consuming than handling complaints that come in from traditional channels.
(Photo credit: FailPost)