Has your business ever received a negative comment via social media? How do you effectively put out fires while keeping a positive brand image on social channels? This is a struggle we hear from businesses across all industries. Whether you agree that you should have social customer service or deal with complaints offline, the amount of people who hear a complaint has risen with the introduction of social media. Traditionally, if a person received a bad experience, they were likely to tell ten of their friends. Now, that same person can tell 1,000 or more friends in a few seconds via social channels. The potential for customer complaints to go viral makes it crucial for companies to take action.


Who is most likely to complain?

A study based on the top 100 internet retailers by NM Incite found that younger people are more apt to complain online and through multiple channels. This study also discovered that there is a slight difference in the expectations of social customer service based on age. For instance, the study found that 60% of 18-24 year-olds voice their complaints on Facebook and 42% post their comments on Twitter. In addition, this age group expects businesses to respond to their complaints within 12 hours. Negativity can spread like wildfire, so how can you plan for the worst?

How do you put out the fire?  

1) The first step is to decide who will respond to customer complaints. You may designate one person to resolve complaints by posting as the company, or you may be totally transparent and have someone say who they are and always respond as himself/herself. You don’t ever resolve complaints by talking to a company; you want to talk to a human! So why would social complaints be any different? In my opinion, that’s why having an individual represent the company and take the blame makes social customer service more effective.

2) The second step is to decide what the typical response time will be. After you decide that, it may be a good idea to add this to your company account description. Something like, “We care about your experience. If you have a complaint, we will get back to you within X hours via X. For immediate assistance, please call our customer service line at …..” would be sufficient. This way, customers will be less likely to repost their complaint and know you will get back to them.

3) The third step is to develop a step-by-step process for resolving complaints via social. To reduce continued negativity online and respect your customers’ privacy, it is important to tell the customer to send a private message with more details, including their account information, so you can better assist them.

4) The final step is to determine what to do about trolls. “Trolls” are customers who like to complain on every post you create. This can hurt your brand if every positive post you create is followed by a negative comment. Tread carefully when dealing with this type of customer. I recommend trying to solve the customer compliant and then repost that you fixed the problem if they continue to post negatively. This type of customer wants a response. Typically, if you ignore them, they will post worse comments on social media that go beyond the problem because they are looking for a response.

In conclusion, businesses need to proactively set up a social customer response team in order to maintain a positive brand image online. What has your business done effectively to respond to customer complaints? Please leave a comment here.


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