It’s no secret that social media has changed the way businesses and customers interact. By opening up lines of communication, companies are required to be transparent, and customers have the opportunity to speak directly with the brands they are using. While this communication can often be positive, which is basically free advertising, you may come across some negative comments and questions as well. In fact, according to research conducted by J.D. Power, 67 percent of consumers have used social media as an avenue for customer service. So how can you as a brand adapt to this trend? Knowing the nature of social media and the best way to respond to complaints is vital to success online, so lets take a look at some quick tips.
1. Be Prompt and Personal With Your Response
Prior to social media, customer service was predominantly done via the phone as this was a fast and efficient way of resolving any issue. While many consumers have shifted to social media for their service, this does not mean they are willing to wait any longer. Research conducted by Forrester in fact found that 77 percent of online adults cited valuing their time as the most important thing a brand can do in customer service. Therefore, when it comes to responding to complaints online, try and be as prompt with your responses — within one hour is usually a good time frame. Try setting up Google alerts and have employees regularly check social media pages as well as other forums like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Zagat. A great way to do this is by using a cloud contact center that has powerful multi-channel features and will assist in keeping employees engaged with sites.
As customers value their time, they not only appreciate a fast response but also a fast solution. Therefore, it’s vital that you have a set out plan for your team to follow in any situation. First, identify whether you did in fact make a mistake and if so, is it complex enough that the discussion should be taken offline? Either way, you should be responding politely to your customers and directing them to appropriate resources or offering help. If the problem is more complex, having an escalation plan is important to not only save time but to avoid confusion amongst your employees. The worst thing you could do is give customers false information when they are already experiencing trouble with your brand. When following out any plan, be sure to keep your customer in the loop at every stage so they know you care and that you’re working hard to solve the issue. If you need a bit of time to sort out how you’re going to handle a situation, still respond within an hour to let the customer know you’re working on a solution.
3. Follow Up and Correct the Error
Once an issue has been resolved via social media, ensure that you follow up within a couple of days to make sure the customer is happy. You don’t want them to experience another problem as this may lead them to undergo more drastic measures. Double check with them they’re satisfied and even gather some feedback for you and your team. Following this, ensuring that that same issue is avoided in the future, is important. Whether this means resolving an issue on your end, or encouraging the customer to contact you directly next time they need to communicate, it’s always a good idea to do some damage control.
Social media is the new way for customers to communicate and complain about brands. As a very public forum, it’s important for companies to master the way they address these complaints to avoid negative publicity and attract loyal followers.