Many businesses are sceptical about using Social Media as they fear it will open up a ‘can of worms’ – giving their customers the opportunity to complain publicly on the rare occasions that things don’t quite go to plan.
However I would suggest that the opposite is true.
Think of it this way. Over 28million people in the UK use Facebook, and the number using Twitter is creeping up on a daily basis – your clients and customers are among these people, as are their friends, clients, and customers too.
If someone wants to complain about your business then they will – and they will most likely do this online. I’m not great at remembering truisms but one that sticks in my mind goes something like “If a customer is happy with your service they will tell one person, if they are unhappy they will tell ten”.
Social Media is essentially today’s word-of-mouth‘ – and therefore customers will most likely tell more than just the ten people they are unhappy – if they post this as a status update they are more likely to be telling hundreds!
And as we all know in business, things can go wrong, it’s impossible to please all of the people, all of the time (although I try :-)).
But these negatives can quickly be turned into positives – if somebody is unhappy with your service levels then you want to hear about it right?
Well having a business account on a Social Media platform is a great way of achieving that – as rather than just name your company, the unhappy customer is much more likely to seek you out and look to link to your social media account within their complaint. If they are already a regular customer, they may well follow you on these platforms already. I’ve seen this scenario on a number of occasions across my entire client range – but this is a good thing!
You have the chance to quickly and publicly respond – immediately demonstrating great customer service by showing your customer that you do care, and seeing how you can put it right.
As you engage in dialogue with your customer, their friends, clients and customers can see the conversation and see the lengths you are going to in order to get things right. And although people complain – it’s often spur of the moment and by responding positively you can quickly promote a ‘change-of-heart’ from your customer – it can often even lead to an apology from the customer for complaining in the first place!
So don’t bury your head in the sand. Whether you agree with Social Media or are yet to be convinced, take my word for it, your customers are talking about you online and surely you’d much rather know about this and be able to address it than not..?
Here are my three top tips for responding:
1) Find Out In The First Place.
If you’re on Facebook and Twitter in particular then you will be alerted to anyone who links directly to you in the complaint so you can respond very quickly. However, I would suggest using regular keyword searches on these sites to check for general mentions of your brand regardless. Free software like the fabulous Hootsuite enable you to manage up to five accounts on the same dashboard and also run real-time keyword reports so you’ll never miss a mention. If you’re not one of the Social Media converted as yet, you can still use tools such as Google Alerts to notify you of online mentions of your brand. Remember – you can’t respond to complaints that you can’t see!
2) Act Personally and Quickly
It’s a good idea to respond as quickly as you can, even with a quick – “Thank you for your message and I’m sorry to hear that – my name’s Matt and I’m looking into this for you. I’ll respond in full as soon as I’m able to”. This gives a human element to your business (as I write about in my ‘Humanise Your Business‘ blog post) and also stops the complaint from escalating any further from your customer’s point of view at that very point. If you feel that the subject matter of the complaint isn’t appropriate to deal with in the public domain, then at this point you could also request an email address or phone number using a direct message. If you’re happy to discuss the matter publicly (which hopefully you are!), then this is perfect forum to take steps to put the experience right for the customer, and show the world that you’re doing so.
3) Apologise Properly – And Don’t Get Into An Argument!
Ultimately, it’s a good idea to apologise and do it well. If you’re in the wrong, take full responsibility and involve the customer in how you put it right. The customer already has the upper-hand from the start as they have made the official complaint and are unhappy – they also know that ideally (in most cases) you don’t want to lose them as a customer. All you can do is try and engage them in conversation and not respond to derogatory comments. If the customer should become abusive then it’s a difficult one for you to win – just stick to your principles, re-enforce your apology, and move on.
Finally here is a great example of an apology done well using Social Media. FedEx get everything right here, an apology from the top, and on the same Social Media platform (in this case YouTube) that the original complaint was posted. Let me know what you think.
I hope you find the above information useful – if you’d like any further advice or want to know how this type of thing can be managed for you, then please contact me.