How to Deal With Unhappy Customers on Social Media
2016 September 19
Unhappy or dissatisfied customers can’t be good for your business. Especially when they decide to tag your brand and vent their ire on social media or address it directly to you. Social media can give visibility to your brand and while that may sound wonderful and can help your business generate leads, there is also a pitfall. Social media can help propagate a negative perception about your brand or customers' gripes can spread like wild fire, even if it is unsubstantiated.
Negative news and opinions tend to spread quickly on social media and very soon it could raise a storm. It can influence people’s perceptions of your brand and if a negative point about your brand is flagged, it will be your duty to prove innocence or show your responsibility by admitting the problem and providing a quick solution before things escalate and get out of control.
Why you should intervene?
If you sense a negative perception brewing or if you see a discussion which is painting your company in poor light, timely intervention is necessary; you don’t have to fight. If you feel that there is prima facie merit in the complaint, accept it and promise quick action. If not, try to debunk it politely and by countering such argument(s) with logic and patience. But always respond.
Not having an official position on a controversy surrounding your company may be counterintuitive. On one hand, you plan to promote your brand by engaging the audience but on the other hand you want to maintain secrecy if a controversy hits you. If you let the controversy flow without intervention, it may singe and affect the brand image and your own social standing.
So, always be quick to take positive action. Also, if you don’t address a customer problem, your business would suffer directly because you would lose a valuable customer and through negative word of mouth, you'll likely lose a few more.
Strategies to counter customer dissatisfaction on social media
1. Understand and act
Before taking a hostile stand, try to understand where the customer concerns or complaints are coming from. Are they justified? Carry out quick investigations to establish if the complaint is evidence-based or simply biased. You should respond in either case. However, take your time in formulating a proper response strategy; don’t act hastily. Try to cover your tracks and make sure that your actions don’t exacerbate the problem and make the customer even more dissatisfied. Never try to browbeat or coerce the customer to change tone. That would amount to hara-kiri. Also, try to avoid initiating legal action until and unless it’s absolutely necessary because it usually gives your brand a poor name even if you are justified in your action.
2. Connect directly with the complainant and try to take the discussion offline
First, you will have to directly address the critic or the complainant either publicly or if possible, through offline means. If the customer details are present in your database or if you can send the customer a message to take the discussion offline by promising action, you would at least prevent a public showdown. It would happen discretely and it would be easier to correspond and ameliorate the customer by offering incentives or proactive action. Also if the problem is solved, request the customer to give a public disclaimer that the problem was solved through quick company intervention and that the company was sensitive to the problem.
3. Show humility and humaneness in response
Be genuine and polite in your apology. Your social media team should be asked to be extremely customer-friendly and even if they are not civil, the customer care executives can’t retort or shout back. They shouldn’t take things personally. Rather, you and your team should empathize with the customer problem and make a genuine effort to find quick solution. Also, don’t make promises that you can’t keep.
Social media has given you a platform to connect with your customers directly. If you can use it properly and if you are sincere, you can immediately take note of a problem and offer solution which will give a boost to your image and spread positive word of mouth which is arguably the best form of promotion or branding.
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Posted In: Social Media and Digital Marketing