Social media is a great customer service tool. While most companies view Twitter and Facebook as a great tool to monitor what customers are saying about them, I’ve written that they are missing opportunities to enhance the customer service and experience by posting value added content.
That said, this short article is about how to respond to the irate customer who decides to air his or her grievance using social media channels instead of reaching out to the company directly. Or worse, maybe they tried to reach the company via traditional channels (phone, email, etc.) and didn’t get the response they were looking for.
When a customer complains on social media channels like Twitter or Facebook, the customer’s usual goal is to get the company to respond. The company’s goal is to mitigate or eliminate any negative impressions, and show the customer, and the rest of the world, that they are there to support and help the customer through the problem. The company is trying to avoid a PR nightmare. Managed properly, the result will be the opposite of the nightmare, showing the customer, their friends and potentially the rest of the world that the company stands behind their products and offers amazing customer service.
Here are five simple steps to managing a customer complaint on Twitter, Facebook and other similar social media channels:
- First and foremost, respond quickly. Many customers feel that a same-day response is acceptable. Some companies attempt to respond within an hour. I just worked with 1-800 Flowers and their goal is to respond within five minutes. That’s a pretty amazing goal.
- Think of this as a conversation. Respond in a very conversational style. Don’t use a canned answer. Customize your response if possible.
- If they are obviously angry, don’t become defensive. The risk is that you start an argument in front of everyone. Instead, take control of the comment by first apologizing for any issue they are having, and letting them know that you are there to help.
- Ask them to direct message you their contact information so you can get the information needed to call them on the phone or start a longer email conversation – in private.
- Once the problem is resolved, go back to them on the original social media channel they used to reach to you and thank them for bringing the problem to your attention and the opportunity to fix it. Show there was a positive resolution.
The bottom line is this: If you don’t deliver, at a minimum, an acceptable level of service, the whole world can find out about it. Embrace social media. Your customers do, and that means you should, too.