While social media has shaken up both the business strategy and the relationship between customers and brands in a particularly significant way, it has also brought some new potential issues which marketers and brands as a whole need to learn how to manage. Brands have been gifted fast, responsive, targetable platforms, but customers have been gifted fast responsive and direct means to communicate their feedback very freely with businesses as they please.
So while getting the ‘we loved working with these guys’ tweet or Instagram share is great for morale, UGC and customer experience, the negative comments and complaints aren’t so great to receive; and, unfortunately, these are the ones which consumers are often more motivated to communicate. A business strategy planning for growth needs to acknowledge that a badly dealt with complaint could hinder growth long-term; it’s therefore so necessary that the team knows how to deal with them effectively.
We’ve pulled together a little help sheet so you can put your best foot forward and follow social media feedback best-practice!
Quick. Quick. Quick.
Your timing does matter, especially if it’s a complaint or criticism. The longer the complaint goes unaddressed, the longer it is there for your other potential customers to see and be influenced by the negative words, and the longer your unsatisfied customer is stewing, with unresolved concerns.
This is where your social listening comes into play, monitoring every mention of your brand to ensure that you’re able to catch all and any comments to and about your brand in the shortest time possible. Facebook, for example, will let customers know how speedy your replies typically are through your messenger pop up.
Naturally, depending on your resources, this response time will vary; if you can have a team manning the social media platforms 24/7 then great, but if you’re smaller or growing then do the very best you can to have someone checking in as regularly and often as possible.
Respond to all, but complaints are a must!
Yes, ideally respond to each and every piece of feedback online; this will assist in building you up as a reputable, reliable and responsible brand, however, the positive comments are not so pressing; complaints are a must! Respond to these as a priority!
Your social media is an arm of your marketing strategy, so while it’s the best possible practice to see a company responding to their negative feedback, occasionally the discussion can turn a little heated if the customer feels they have been let down or the company is unable to give the customer exactly what they want. In this case, divert conversations offline as early as possible. While you want to help the customer, if their complaint is out of your hands, their request is not possible, then you don’t want to have that discussion in the public eye! Which leads us on to our next point…
The customer is always right (right?)
Is the customer always right? If you’ve dealt with even a handful of customers in your time, you’ll know that often through expectations, limited knowledge or past experiences the customer can be a little off in what they’re asking from you. Some complaints or requests are simply unreasonable or undoable.
Although, sometimes, the customer is not right, don’t be tempted to enter into any kind of argumentative communications with the consumer, apologize for their inconvenience or dissatisfaction, reason calmly and either stand your ground or offer any compensation you’re able and approved to, depending on the situation.
Ownership Of Mistakes
If your customer has a valid concern and you can see that an error has been made on your end, take ownership of this! Trying to wriggle out of the blame or excuse the company’s actions won’t paint the company in a better light. Apologizing for the mistake and offering a means or rectification or reimbursement are your best moves here.
Plan To Prevent
Prevention of negative feedback is the best plan of attack. Know your weaknesses and have a contingency plan in place for when complaints are made. A system of what can be offered and where complaints should be directed to if they need to be addressed by an account manager or higher management perhaps. Develop a clearly determined path for your team to follow as a social media-based complaint escalation plan.
Listening to past areas of complaint can assist in your business development, highlighting where you are failing in your customer satisfaction and allowing you to rectify these areas!
Use your good feedback!
Finally, don’t forget about your positive feedback. We have concentrated rather exclusively on the correct response to negative feedback, this is where most businesses need a little assistance, but your positive feedback is a chance to develop relationships and utilise some UGC. So respond, tweet back, share it on your story and comment on the praise. Showing that you are quick to respond on social media is a trait worth having.