Tuesday, November 12, 2013

5 Tips For Dealing With Social Media Complaints About Your Brand

Last week social software provider Lithium released a study that reveals 53 percent of consumers expect a brand to respond to a tweet within an hour. But what if the consumer is tweeting about a bad experience? The number jumps to 72 percent of the consumers expect a brand to respond within an hour!

So if you are responsible for managing your company’s social media activities, does this mean you can never turn off your phone or if you do, are you running the risk of angering your customers even more by not responding within an hour? Not exactly, but realize you need to respond to the complaint as soon as you are aware of it.

Being unresponsive has the potential to turn a small complaint into a larger and more public issue. On the other hand, responding quickly and in a negative manner to the consumer’s concern can have equally as much impact to your business.

For example, by now I am sure most people have heard about the British Airways customer that was so fed up with the company’s handling of his lost luggage that he took his frustrations to Twitter. The customer paid Twitter to promote his tweet so a wider audience would view his complaint. The tweet went vial and led to a very embarrassing situation for British Airways. While this is an extreme case, you need to be aware of what your customers are saying in public about your brand and have a plan of action.

So what can you do?

Here are five tips for dealing with social media complaints from your customers.

  1. Begin with determining who is responsible for monitoring and responding to complaints through your social media channels. During your normal business hours, the person managing your social media accounts should be responding or a designated backup person with access to your accounts if your are out of the office. If you plan to respond to complaints afterhours, have a plan on who will be monitoring your accounts and set internal guidelines on how to handle issues such as will you attempt to resolve the issue afterhours or the next business day.

  2. Respond to the person as quickly as possible and offer an apology about their experience. Remember, it does not matter what experience your brand was trying to provide, the customer’s experience and expectation were not met. Learn as much as you can about the person’s concerns and ask for their suggestions on how you can improve the experience next time. 

  3. When responding to an online complaint, it will be natural that you will want to defend your brand. However, it is important to remain calm when responding as your initial approach to the situation will influence the outcome.  You never want to respond out of anger or attempt to talk down to the customer. The last thing you want to do it compound the situation by trying to prove the customer wrong. A good rule of thumb is - do not try to win the battle as you may end up losing the publicity war.  Case in point: See how the Kansas City Chiefs insulted a frustrated fan here and lost the publicity war. 

  4. Be sincere in your responses and follow up communications. Most of the time the person just wants acknowledgement of their concern and reassurance that someone is listening. If the problem will take some time resolve and the customer is expecting an answer, take ownership of the issue and provide the customer with a definitive time on when you will provide them with an update. And most importantly, follow up when you told them you would!

  5. Take the conversation offline as quickly as possible as it will provide you with greater flexibility and privacy in the manner. Once the conversation is offline, you can now ask for sensitive personal information that will help you research the complaint. Moreover, it will provide you and the customer an opportunity to discuss the manner without other users chiming in or limit the conversation between due to character limits for a Tweet.

Following the above guidelines will solve most of your social media complaint issues. However, there will be cases in which the consumer will not be happy with your solutions regardless of your best efforts. In this case, you need to know when to walk away from the issue. Prolonging the conversation will only feed into the ire of the consumer and provide the person and the public with more content for bashing your brand.

I would love to hear how you dealt with complaints through a social media channel and what tactics worked and did not work in the comments below.

1 comment:

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